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self-esteem

Bipolar Disorder and Exercise

Does Exercise Help with Bipolar Disorder?

Everyone knows that exercise is good for your health.  It is a no-brainer, and it is repeated so often that you have probably gotten tired of it.  I know I should do some physical activity. It is good for my heart, my bones… blah, blah, blah.

Bipolar DepressionOn the other hand, aside from needing to exercise because I am getting old and tired – the idea, that exercise might be good for my Bipolar Disorder, might just motivate me to do it.
Nothing else has.

A research study conducted in 2012 showed that exercise may have positive benefits for people with Bipolar Disorder.  I should have thought of that – but I didn’t (probably because I am bipolar and tend to ignore obvious things that might help me).

When asked – I have given advice to those who have depression (major depressive disorder, clinical depression, situational depression – or even bipolar depression).  What I tell those people is in addition to taking their meds, they should get up.  Get out of bed, get outside, and get some exercise – even if it is just around the kitchen.  Exercise increases the blood supply to your brain and helps to rise your energy levels – even if you don’t want to, it will do you some good.

Bipolar Disorder ShadowI give that advice to people when they are depressed, but I am not usually depressed.  My disorder tends toward mania or at least a mixed mood state.  So I don’t think about the need to increase my energy level.

Evidence has shown that exercise has some positive effects for people with Bipolar Disorder – even those that are not depressed.  In addition to the obvious health benefits, it can help to regulate your mood levels and “bring structure to chaos”.

As “bipolar“, we are often subject to disorderDisordered mind, disordered days, disordered environment.  One of the biggest tools for a bipolar patient to get and keep their body and mind regulated is the establishment of a schedule.

Go to bed at bedtime (and not at 2 am when you fall asleep in front of the TV). Get up in the morning, go to work on time, eat on a schedule – and take your meds when you should.
Establishing a routine does, in fact, help to keep from extreme ups and downs.

Exercise can be a big part of this – and physically reinforce a schedule on your body – that then affects your brain.  Just like getting up at the same time and going to sleep at the same time helps to establish a normal circadian rhythmexercise can reinforce that in a big way.

There are other benefits to exercise as well.  Physical activity naturally increases blood flow to the brain, which gives it the best chance of functioning at optimum level. It also helps to “clear out the cobwebs” that can be especially important if you are teetering on the edge.
Bipolar ExerciseExercise can increase your self-esteem that may have taken many blows in the past.  It can also increase social activity – that is apparently good for you, even if you don’t like people.  I don’t.

In my opinion, the biggest benefit may be “getting in touch” with your body.  When you exercise, you are more likely to stay within yourself.  One of the greatest problems in people with any mental disorder, and one of the reasons why people abuse drugs or perform any other risky behavior is the inability to be comfortable within your skin.  If you are exercising, you don’t really have a choice; you have to stay there.  Over time, you feel better about yourself, you feel more comfortable there, and you learn what is and isn’t “normal” within your body.

Perhaps this can lead you to better response when something is going amiss – when you may be slipping into disorder.

I tend to disregard the advice given by those who are not bipolar experts… either those with Bipolar Disorder or those who know the disease intimately, but this advice looks pretty solid to me.

Exercise and take your medicines!

Melissa Lind

Bipolar Disorder and Exercise as text to speech article

(Mental health video for blind and partially sighted people)

Depression and Women

Does women suffer from depression more often than men?

Depressed ManBoth men and women suffer from depression, but studies have shown that women suffer from depression twice as much as men do. Over the decades, many things have been blamed on a woman’s biological function, and a great deal of research has been put into this.

While a woman’s biological function does play a role in depression, other factors come into play as well. Several decades ago, women had very little control over their lives. It was standard that the man of the house — whether that was a woman’s father, husband or a grown son — made the decisions and had all of the control.

This lack of control can lead to depression, both in men and women. But since it was women who were the ones without any control, it was more often they that had to deal with the depression that this causes. Today, however, women are more in control. But there are still factors that affect them, as much as men, that lead to depression, such as relationship problems, the loss of a loved one, and financial changes.Depression, sadness and lonelyness

Furthermore, society shows us images of what women are “expected” to be, and these are things that few women in the world can live up to. This in turn affects the self-esteem, which in turn can lead to depression. Women see men’s reactions to those unrealistic images, and think that this is what they are supposed to be.

Women, who were children in the sixties, are in a real quandary today. Then, the world was changing for women. Depressed Woman - All AloneThose women were raised in homes where the old standards still applied, and then tossed into the world where all of the rules, standards, and social expectations had changed. This has contributed to even more self-esteem issues. The question “Who am I, and who am I supposed to be?” becomes very hard to answer.

So, yes, women do suffer from depression more often than men, and while hormones do play a role, there are many other aspects of life that also contribute to depression for women.

Never assume that a female is just suffering from PMS and that everything will be better in a few days!

Differences between male and female depression:
Women tend to: Men tend to:
Blame themselves Blame others
Feel sad, apathetic, and worthless Feel angry, irritable, and ego inflated
Feel anxious and scared Feel suspicious and guarded
Avoid conflicts at all costs Create conflicts
Feel slowed down and nervous Feel restless and agitated
Have trouble setting boundaries Need to feel in control at all costs
Find it easy to talk about self-doubt and despair Find it “weak” to admit self-doubt or despair
Use food, friends, and “love” to self-medicate Use alcohol, TV, sports, and sex to self-medicate
Adapted from: Male Menopause by Jed Diamond