Depression & Bipolar Disorder
Depression and bipolar disorders are mental disorders, real physical illnesses that affect a person’s moods, thoughts, body, energy and emotions. Both disorders, especially bipolar disorder, tend to follow a cyclical course, meaning they have ups and downs. Nearly one in five American adults, or 43.7 million people, experienced a diagnosable mental illness in 2012 according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Treatment for these illnesses can also have ups and downs. As much as we may want it to, wellness often does not happen overnight. It is normal to wish you could feel better faster or to worry that you will never feel better. However, know that you can feel better, and that ultimately you are in charge of your wellness. There are many things you can do to help yourself.
Talk to your health care provider (HCP) about what you need from treatment. Your HCP can provide the treatment(s) and/or medication(s) that work best for you. Along the way, you have a right to ask questions about the treatments you are getting and choose the treatments you want.
It can also be helpful to work with a therapist, family member, friend, and peer supporters to help manage your mood disorder. This is why re:MIND provides many weekly support groups. Peer support groups are a wonderful and comforting way to work with people who have been where you are. The re:MIND support group system brings together diagnosed individuals, as well as family members and friends, in an environment that fosters empathy, education and empowerment. Not only can people share their personal thoughts and feelings, but they can address broader concerns such as treatment plans, medication, doctors, exercise or eating habits.
Wellness is a return to a life that you care about. A healthy lifestyle is always important. Even if symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder make things like physical activity, healthy eating or regular sleep difficult, you can improve your moods by improving your health. Take advantage of the good days you have. On these days, do something healthy for yourself. It might be as simple as taking a short walk, eating a fresh vegetable or fruit or writing in a journal. A talk about lifestyle changes should be a part of your goal setting with your health care professional (HCP).
You have the power to change. You are the most important part of your wellness plan. Your treatment plan will be unique to you. The plan will follow some basic principles and paths, but you and your HCP can adapt it to fit you. A healthy lifestyle and support from people who have been there can help you work with your HCP and find a way to real and lasting wellness.
In consultation with your Health Care Provider, some of the following can all be important components of mental wellness:
- Talk therapy/counseling
- Peer support groups
- Support of family and friends
- Healthy lifestyle (diet and exercise)
- Faith community
- Regular schedule (including regular and sufficient sleep)
- Creative activity (journaling, art, music)
- Volunteering/giving to others
For additional ideas and resources for mental wellness, visit our Mental Health Literature page.
If you're interested in attending a support group to learn more about depression and to talk to other people with similar experiences, please