Home Mental Health & Well-Being Experts Warn That People Living with Bipolar Need to Manage Increased Triggers During the Summer Months

Experts Warn That People Living with Bipolar Need to Manage Increased Triggers During the Summer Months

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According to experts at Bipolar UK, the summer season can trigger relapse for people living with bipolar due to changes in routine and sleep deprivation, which research shows can be a trigger for four in five people living with bipolar.

Lack of sleep can be more prevalent during the summer months due to longer sunlight hours and warmer weather, as well as holidays abroad that may involve travelling to different time zones.

With the summer season now in full swing, Bipolar UK is warning people with bipolar to be more aware of their potential triggers and put plans in place to help them stay well.

Speaking about potential summertime triggers, Simon Kitchen, CEO of Bipolar UK, said: “During the summer, many people will be going on holiday and out of their usual routine. Add to that potential jet lag, extra alcohol, and general excitement which are all sleep disrupters, and this could lead someone living with bipolar to become unwell.

80% of our community say that sleep deprivation has been a trigger for them. Getting seven to eight hours sleep a night is one of the top protective factors in managing bipolar. Good sleep-hygiene measures include avoiding substances and activities that both delay someone getting to sleep and disrupt sleep quality, such as alcohol and caffeine, and using electronic devices before bed.

“This can be easier said than done during the summer months when routines change – another trigger for people living with bipolar.

“What people with bipolar can do to lower the risk of relapse is by making sure they have as many protective factors in place as possible. This will give them a buffer against any potential triggers.

“Protective factors include good sleep patterns, good lifestyle choices with diet and exercise, pre-empting stressful times, taking medication regularly, getting extra support from a healthcare professional, and booking in a medication review.”

For many people living with bipolar, experiencing hypomania or even mania during the summer months is more common because of the lighter mornings and evenings which can lead to over stimulation and decreased sleep.

Mania is officially described as an “elevated, expansive, and irritable mood with changes in energy and activity levels.” Someone experiencing a manic episode usually has no insight into their condition. 

Hypomania is “a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated mood,” and is the stage between a balanced, happy mood and mania.

“Maintaining as much of a routine as possible during the summer months is essential,” added Kitchen.

“Log your mood daily as this will help you to notice the early warning signs of a potential relapse or not feeling balanced. You can do this via Bipolar UK’s Mood Tracker app or using a Mood Scale alongside a diary.

By tracking your daily moods, sleep patterns, emotions, and any medication you’re taking, as well as spotting any early warning signs of relapse, you can also collect the data to share with your healthcare team,

“It’s also essential to communicate with your loved ones about how you’re feeling rather than hiding it. And you can plan ahead by  writing a document outlining key information for professionals who might treat you if you become unwell. In it, you can provide information about things like your condition, treatments which work/don’t work, and contact details, both for family and friends and for health professionals who are unfamiliar with your history.

“And finally, set reminders to take your medication so you don’t forget.

“It doesn’t necessarily follow that any single one of these triggers will cause an episode, but a bipolar episode is more likely to occur during the summer months if there’s a combination of more than one trigger. This is why planning ahead and putting protective factors into place is so important.”

Bipolar UK has a variety of resources to support people living with bipolar and their loved ones, helping them to recognise the risks and manage their condition so they can enjoy longer periods of stability.

To find out more about bipolar and how to manage symptoms:

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