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.
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.
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:
- Take all medication as prescribed
- Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder
- Become a partner in treatment to find the most effective medications and dosages
- Get eight hours of sleep a night
- Eat healthfully
- 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.
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."