Everyone has the potential to grieve losses in their life. Those with bipolar disorder don’t have a right to say they grieve more than others. However, they are at risk for extreme mood episodes as a result of a significant loss in their life, making their grief dangerous and potentially life threatening.
The loss doesn’t have to be a death. It can be a job, a relationship, or a tragedy without death like a severe illness or injury. It doesn’t have to involve someone who is personally known but can be related to a collective loss or tragedy of a famous person or someone in their community.
When a person with bipolar disorder experiences a loss, at a minimum, daily tasks may fall by the wayside. Worst case scenario the person becomes completely immobilized, ignores their most basic tasks such as hygiene and nutrition and starts having thoughts of harming him or herself.
Some ways to cope with a loss if you have bipolar disorder is to make sure you keep taking your medicine as prescribed.
Stay away from alcohol and recreational drugs which can bring you down even further and lower your inhibition when trying to stay safe.
Talk to someone about your feelings.
Journal about your thoughts and feelings.
Go to a support group.
Talk to your doctor.
Go to a therapist or counselor.
Go for a walk.
Spend time with animals or children.
Take a hot bath.
Take the time and care you need to ride out the emotions knowing they will pass.
Do not “should” yourself or judge or talk negatively to yourself about anything you’re not able to do while going through this time. This is the way your brain was made and it is not something you chose. Acceptance and self compassion are key to experiencing less suffering during these times.
What are some other ways you can or have coped with loss in your life?
Everyone feels sad at some point in their life but not everyone gets depressed. Usually sadness is a result of some specific external event or reason going on in someone’s life from something as serious as the death of a loved one to something less serious like failing an important exam. This is not to say that some things that cause sadness such as these cannot lead into depression if it goes on for a long period of time.
Main Differences Between Sadness and Depression
A person with sadness can usually find some relief from crying, venting, or talking out frustrations. Those with depression can do the same thing but often don’t find the same kind of relief. They continue to feel very sad with the added symptoms of hopelessness, lack of motivation, and loss of interest in activities that they once found enjoyable.
Sadness usually passes with time. Depression tends to last weeks or months and may lead to those with it thinking about or attempting suicide. They may also no longer feel like spending time with family or friends and might become disinterested in their usual hobbies and feel unable to attend work or school.
Sadness is just one part of depression. Other symptoms of depression that aren’t necessarily seen in sadness include a daily depressed mood that lasts for most of the day, nearly every day, with signs of hopelessness and sadness. There’s also a loss of interest in normal activities for an extended amount of time, significant and unintentional weight loss or gain, insomnia, sleepiness, or increased amounts of sleep that affect normal schedules, tiredness and low energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt on a daily basis, inability to concentrate or make decisions, and recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal attempts or plans. A person who experiences any five of these symptoms for longer than two weeks would probably be diagnosed as having depression rather than a prolonged experience of sadness.
If you feel like you are experiencing depression rather than sadness, contact your medical professional as soon as possible. There are many treatment options available for people with depression including medications and psychotherapy and counseling.