Prevention of episodes

You can put measures in place to prevent episodes from happening. You have the option to follow the guides and techniques below. If you have your own and would like to see them here, please let me know.


You can start by avoiding things, where possible, that can trigger your episodes. This can protect you from relapsing. The SMART model lays the foundation for you to start building a structure for you to put measures in place that can help you deal with and prevent future episodes. Your senses can be impacted so find ways to safeguard and then stimulate them. What you consume, such as over-the-counter medication, antibiotics, recreational drugs and alcohol can have an affect on your prescribed medication and shifts in your mood. Looking after yourself can help you reduce stress and prevent a relapse. There is a guide that you can follow to prevent suicide which includes creating a crisis plan.

The SMART model

What is the SMART model?

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This model lays the foundation for you to start building a structure for you to put measures in place that can help you deal with and prevent future episodes.

Support

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Create a support structure that you can lean on in your times of need. This can include of your family, friends, people you trust, psychiatrist, psychologist, another practitioner helping you, support groups and online communities.

Manage

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Side effects: tell your psychiatrist about them. The dosage or medication may need to change. Signs: tell the people in your support structure if you see any signs of a relapse. Support structure roles: show people what role they need to play and how they can manage your recovery.

Assist

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Assist yourself by working with your support structure to get the support you need, follow your treatment plan and use any medical services available to you like psychiatric care, rehabilitation and hospitalisation.

Responsibility

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You are responsible for reaching out for help, taking your medication every day and on time, making appointments to see your practitioners and being on time. It is a good idea for you to create a crisis plan to help you when an episode gets out of hand.

Teach

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Teach yourself about bipolar to make better decisions, maintain stability and have richer conversations with your psychiatrist and therapist. Tell your loved ones what bipolar is, how it works, how it impacts you and how they can help you.

Use your senses

How does it work

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Depression can affect us emotionally and physically. Our senses can be impacted. We may need to safeguard them and then use them as powerful tools to enhance our well-being. When we get more input than our brains can cope with then we can overwhelm ourselves which affects our emotions. Once we have climatised then we can change our neurochemistry by feeding our 5 senses.

See

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If you are sensitive to light then you can dim the lights or close the curtains/blinds to rest your eyes then afterwards try your best to get some light, sunshine and look at bright colours that surround you. Go to an art gallery, Google for bright pictures that you can look at, go to the park while the sun is out.

Hear

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If you are sensitive to noise or ordinary sounds then wear headphones to muffle out these sounds or play music that can soothe you then afterwards try your best to intensely listen to the sounds in your environment, listen to upbeat music, have conversations with loved ones.

Smell

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If you are sensitive to smell then try to avoid strong scents or odours like food and perfumes then afterwards try your best to smell strong and refreshing scents, breathe in fresh air and take deep slow breaths.

Touch

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If you are sensitive to touch then getting hugs and touching certain textures could be painful. Tell people that you don't want to be touched then afterwards try your best to touch textures that soothe you (soft, fluffy, warm, cold), get hugs, touch someone's hands, feel the warmth of tea, take relaxing baths, go for a massage or acupuncture.

Taste

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If you are sensitive to taste, your food may be bland or you get nauseous. Find foods that taste good to you or work with your psychiatrist through the nausea then afterwards try your best to fully immerse yourself in the taste of your food. Taste the strong flavours in your nutritious, vitamin-packed meals. Enjoy a delicious and warm cup of tea.

Watch what you consume

Watch out while you are sick

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Your moods are affected by your immune system. Try to eat a balanced-diet, exercise and get regular blood tests checking your thyroid and other vital organs. 

Check before you take medication

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Speak to your psychiatrist when you need to take antibiotics, over the counter medication or fungal creams.

Take your medication

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Making changes to your medicine on your own, not taking your medicine as prescribed or taking counteracting medication could cause nasty side-effects and put you at risk of relapsing.

Watch what you eat

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Eat a balanced-diet. Give your brain folic acid (helps the body produce and maintain new cells) and omega 3 (memory). Limit salt (high blood pressure) and caffeine (increases agitation and anxiety) intake - also impacts lithium levels if you are taking lithium.  

Drink enough water

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When the brain does not get enough water then it shrinks and has to work harder to function properly. It can cause fatigue, be difficult to think and shifts in the mood.

Avoid recreational drugs and alcohol

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You may feel good but the effects could lead to a relapse in depression or mania/hypomania as it affects the brain.

Look after yourself

Sleep

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Sleep properly to avoid chemical changes in your brain that can lead to a relapse. Tell your psychiatrist if you are having trouble with your sleeping patterns.

Routine

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Create a pattern of activities which you can follow on a daily basis. Watch out for obsession, burnout and stress.

Exercise

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Exercise releases endorphins (feel-good hormone) which can boost your mood.

Meditate

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Mediation is one of the tools that can help reduce symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, and pain. According to MRI scans the brain's "fight or flight" center, the amygdala appears to shrink.

If you experience depression, suicidal feelings or other serious problems after meditation then seek medical help.

Keep your mind active

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Your brain can lose functionality as you age which can lead to memory loss and brain fog. If you stimulate your mind then your moods will elevate and you can feel better from the inside.

Minimise stress

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Sleep, exercise, mediate, create realistic expectation work sustainable hours, take breaks between tasks, learn to take deep slow breaths, listen to relaxing music, take walks, journal, whatever you can to relax yourself and keep stress to a minimum to avoid having a relapse.

Suicide prevention

Be honest with yourself

Know when something is wrong. Reach out immediately before your symptoms become threatening.

Break your unhealthy state

Use your psychotherapy skills (DBT, CBT, therapy) to have realistic, meaningful emotions. Work towards a successful outcome. Self soothe using your senses to help you feel calmer, ease your mind and tolerate stressful situations.

Reach out for help

Follow your crisis plan, reach out to family and friends, schedule an emergency appointment with your psychologist and tell your psychiatrist about it or book yourself into a hospital. 

Your safety

Find someone you trust. Stay with them or get them to stay with you. They need to safeguard your from medication, bank cards, car keys and any firearms you may own.

Anchors

Find photos, cards, letters, memorabilia of people you love or places you have been to and keep it nearby and visible to remind you of how loved you really are.

Plan or imagine something nice

Plan something important to look forward to. If you don't have anything, think of something you would like to do. Imagine that you are doing it. Fully immerse yourself into the experience as if it is happening right now. Feel it for a while and then come back. Do this a few times if you need to.