Dealing with Bipolar Rage - Learning to Control the Enemy Inside
written by: Stephanie Torreno
• edited by: Paul Arnold
• updated: 4/28/2011
Bipolar disorder can truly redefine the saying "life is a roller coaster" with manic highs and depressing lows. Among the many emotions associated with this disorder, rage can be the most difficult, and the scariest to experience. Learn about bipolar rage and how to deal with it in this article.
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Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings of emotional highs and lows. In bipolar I disorder individuals experience both up (manic) and down (depressive) moods or episodes, with at least one manic episode in their lives. Individuals with bipolar II disorder, on the other hand, experience less manic, or up, episodes. People with bipolar I are more likely to experience angry outbursts, or rage.
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Rage in either type of bipolar disorder includes sudden, unexpected outbursts of anger and aggression. Rage on its own can be diagnosed as intermittent explosive disorder (IED), but people with IED have high rates of bipolar disorder. Individuals with bipolar disorder report rage that lasts less than an hour and is often accompanied by perspiring, chest tightness, palpitations, and twitching. Bipolar rage often causes people to become physically violent. After committing a violent act, some report senses of pleasure and relief, followed by feelings of regret and remorse.
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Dealing with Bipolar Rage - Tips
What can a person do to deal with bipolar rage and prevent violence and other terrible situations? First of all, know what triggers the rage and try to avoid it. Certain stressful situations such as arguments with family and friends, financial pressures, and sleep deficits can lead to rage. If you find yourself experiencing the initial feelings or symptoms of rage, remove yourself from the current environment or situation. Go for a walk or do something else. If the situation continues and your safety or that of somebody else is at stake, a family member or doctor may have to take over your care. In this case, an emergency plan will enable you to have some control over your own treatment.
An emergency plan should include:
A list of phone numbers of your doctor, therapist, family members
The names of all medications and the dosages you are taking
Information about any other medical conditions you have
A list of symptoms that make it necessary for others to take responsibility for your care
Preferences of who you want involved in your care, effective and ineffective treatments and medications, and who you authorize to decide how to proceed with treatment
In instances when you feel bipolar rage coming, quick action must be taken. Although many techniques exist to control your symptoms and maintain wellness, only you can determine which ones will work best for you through experimentation and patience. Individuals with bipolar disorder should use the following tips to reduce bipolar rage:
Become a partner in treatment to find the most effective medications and dosages
Get eight hours of sleep a night
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar
Get regular exercise
Join a support group
Call your doctor or therapist
Develop a support system and ask for help
Consider work or volunteering
Practice relaxation techniques, particularly meditation
Increase your exposure to light
Increase or decrease stimulation in your environment
Maintain a regular schedule
Set and respect limits
Remember, to control bipolar rage, you should know which types of situations trigger it and be able to recognize the first signs. Remove yourself from the situation and develop an emergency action plan to implement when necessary.
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National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Recovery." www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=67728
Smith, Melinda, Segal, Jeanne and Segal, Robert. “Bipolar Support and Self-Help: Living and Coping with Bipolar Disorder."