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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stress and Bipolar Disorder

Happy New Years everyone!  Here comes 2012!

We all know too much stress can make your life a living hell whether you have a mental health issue or not.  As someone with bipolar disorder I know that my manic or depressive symptoms become heightened under stressful conditions.  I experience a loss in ability to cope. 

Stress is the result of the inability to adequately cope with an environmental input or stressor(s) of some kind.  A stressor could be going to the store, an uncertainty about your job, or winning the lottery. Stressors can be good or bad, significant or nonsensical.  

Checkout a bad stress situation here!

In the lives of folks with bipolar disorder, stress is usually a pretty bad dude.  Our mind and body seem to have an added challenge processing and adapting to incoming stressors (negative information) in a way that it is not harmful to us.  I also think our resiliency to stress is somehow less than those that are without a brain disease.

I know of a guy with bipolar disorder who was in the position of assistant pastor for his church.  He had a bachelor degree from a reputed seminary school and a masters in theological studies.  All seemed fine I suppose, but at some point the stress in his life caused his bipolar symptoms to become unmanageable.  He became debilitated to the point where he could no longer hold his church position.

He had held the position for three years.  He attributes the loss in function to bipolar.   

Too much stress for someone with bipolar, if not properly dealt with, can eventually cause a depression or manic episode.  I think some of it is that bipolar people are, in general, more sensitive than the rest of the population.  I also believe some of us have coping skills that are lacking when it comes to managing stress.  I know I do. 

That's it for now.  I'd write more but I'm too stressed out.

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