So by now, if you’ve been reading my posts. You should know that bipolar is characterized by unusual shifts in mood and energy. For me and a lot of bipolar sufferers, there is usually a “trigger”. You can’t avoid all triggers but figuring out these triggers means that you can better manage them in the future.
Stress and sleep are my biggest triggers. If one of those goes out of balance and I am not handling my bipolar properly. Then you are guaranteed an episode. It’s a bit like pulling a name out of a hat. Are we getting depression or mania this time? A study published in 2014 by the “Journal of affective disorders” findings also concluded stressful and negative life events are often a trigger for a bipolar episode. Worth a read I’d you’re into that kind of thing . Causes of stress are personal. What stresses me, might not stress you. Not all stress can be avoided but forewarned is forearmed? Is that right?
Sleep is a complicated one. It’s listed as a symptom of bipolar. Often someone having a manic episode can live with hardly any sleep if any at all. However, it can also be a trigger for an episode. Shift workers, people who work long hours, students lacking sleep, new parents, etc are all at risk of having a mood episode.
2. Big arguments with colleagues, partners, or friends
It’s a symptom as well as a trigger. Irritability is a symptom of both mania and depression. Or it could itself cause stress which leads to an episode. In May 2015 a study by the “Journal of affective disorders” found that most people with bipolar disorder said negative social experiences were among the events that triggered suicidal thinking for them.
3. Alcohol and Drug intoxication (and it’s after-effects)
It doesn’t cause Bipolar disorder as some may think. I’ve actually been told a few times (I’m sure by well-meaning people ). That I caused my bipolar in my teenage years by drinking and taking drugs. No, Karen. Those teenage years were a big fat red flag that I had a psychiatric disorder. Anyway, it doesn’t cause it but it can cause an episode to suddenly occur. And it can worsen the underlying illness. Drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines can cause or worsen a manic episode, while the after-effects (we used to call it “Coming down” or the “Monday blues”) are associated with worsening depressive episodes.
There are actually a few medications that can fuck with bipolar such as: Corticosteroids, thyroid medication, and appetite suppressants. But the one I have unfortunately had to experience is from prescribed antidepressants. Many psychiatrists say they’ve seen patients enter a manic state after being prescribed antidepressants. And now feel uncomfortable prescribing them. I’ve written about my teenage years (being diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants) so I’ll spare repeating myself. Just know that they are definitely a trigger for me at least to turn manic. Most psychs will now prescribe a mood stabilizer alone not both.
5. New seasons
Around 20% of bipolar disorder sufferers are said to experience fluctuations in their mood when the season changes. Depression starts in early winter and mania/hypomania during spring and summer. The reasoning experts give for this is your circadian rhythm or in layman’s terms our body’s internal clock. It’s the response we have to the change in the amount of sunlight we get. The response is controlled by our “clock genes” apparently they’re very complex . A bit like bipolar. Anyway, if these genes are abnormal a bit like having bipolar , you could be at risk of having seasonal bipolar disorder. Yay.
7. Pregnancy, birth, hormones, and altered sleeping patterns.
Unfortunately or fortunately? I haven’t had to deal with this one so I can only really repeat what I’ve researched. Experts say as high as 67% of women have a chance of experiencing an episode during the postpartum period. This is caused by altered medication (during and after pregnancy), changes to sleep patterns (obviously!), And shifting hormones. The 9 months leading up to birth should be used to explore every option and every avenue to avoid having a postpartum episode. Because not only can it trigger a bipolar episode. There is a chance it can trigger postpartum psychosis. Bipolar disorder is strongly associated with postpartum psychosis. A severe mental illness is characterized by the inability to emotionally respond to the newborn and/or thoughts of hurting the baby. Like I said above pregnancy and birth is not something I’ve experienced. So I’d encourage anyone worried about this to do their own research and contact medical professionals.
8. Financial/emotional strains due to job loss.
Unpredictable… And my bipolar brain does not do change or unpredictably. Change something and I’m probably going to have an episode. For some losing a job, they were unhappy with could be liberating. For others, the emotional and financial strain due to job loss can be a major stress. Whichever person you are the dramatic shift of emotions can cause an episode. Mania or depression? The choice is not yours. My doctor told me that I should put away and stop working so much and save money. I’m lucky enough that I could. But you try working in a supermarket and trying to save. What planet do you live on doc?
9. The death of a loved one and the bereavement process
9 triggers, what a shit number to end on? Why couldn’t I have come up with 10? Anyway…This is probably my favourite one to talk about. Not because death is my favourite thing.. that would be sick . But because I knew after my dad died was the trigger that changed the path of my life. It’s the trigger that led to most of my bad memories but on the other hand, it was the best time of my life. Where I learnt some very hard lessons about life. Someone you love is probably one of the most stressful life events you will ever experience. A lot of bipolar people can continue to manage their disorder successfully but for the ones who don’t, it can have extreme consequences.”Funeral mania” is an actual thing. It refers to a manic episode that is likely to occur within one week of a close relative or friend’s death. The most interesting thing I’ve found about this trigger is that data shows that a loss can be the trigger of a first manic episode in patients with a negative psychiatric history. – before my dad died I had only ever experienced depression and anxiety. My dad dying did NOT cause my bipolar but it could have been the thing that brought it out. Cheers dad