Managing Bipolar Disorder and Diabetes Concurrently Promotes and Enables Stability

The intense highs and lows that come with bipolar disorder can be made even worse by the blood sugar fluctuations characteristic of diabetes. The dangerous relationship between these illnesses is toxic, and without maintaining a stable lifestyle, each one can make symptoms of the other worse. Through proper residential treatment, you can ensure that your daily routine and lifestyle habits are conducive to managing both illnesses.

“Which of my feelings are real?” Author Kay Redfield Jamison, who suffers from bipolar disorder, asks in her biography. “Which of the me’s is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.”

Bipolar disorder can feel like your life is divided into two different worlds—one of intense energy and the other of desperation and hopelessness. Proper treatment requires individuals suffering from this disorder to remain focused on monitoring their symptoms and moods, paying careful attention to the foods that they eat, and maintaining a regular routine. Without this treatment and focus, bipolar disorder can send your life into a chaotic frenzy of emotions and experiences that can have destructive effects on both yourself and the relationships with the people that you love.

A lack of routine while living with bipolar disorder can make it difficult to focus on what’s best for you both mentally and physically. It’s no surprise then that people with bipolar disorder are three times more likely to develop diabetes than the general population. Being an illness that also requires careful attention to diet and routine, leaving them both without proper treatment can exacerbate symptoms of each other and make healing a difficult ordeal.

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The Dangerous Relationship Between Bipolar Disorder and Diabetes

Experiencing mania or depression can throw you into a state of mind where you completely lose focus of your normal routine. The feeling of obsessive excitement and racing thoughts that come with mania make it hard to focus on anything, and the hopelessness that comes with depression makes it hard to care. When you have diabetes, you need to focus on your routine and ensure that you’re properly maintaining your blood sugar levels. Without a proper treatment plan, bipolar can make it difficult to focus on the demands of your diabetes, and losing control over these demands can lead to low blood sugar, which can cause mood changes, nervousness, and difficulty thinking clearly. Combined with the mood changes that come with bipolar disorder, these two illnesses can feed off of one another and make it very difficult to focus on treating either of them.

Given the overlap in symptoms that can arise from both bipolar disorder and diabetes, it’s clear that suffering from these two disorders is extremely difficult—and current research supports this notion. One study found that individuals with both bipolar and type 2 diabetes not only have a more severe course of both their illnesses, they are less responsive to treatment for them. In addition, those with both illnesses have poorer control over their diabetes when compared to patients with only diabetes. Another study found that type 2 diabetes might contribute to some of the changes in brain chemistry in the prefrontal cortex commonly observed in individuals with bipolar disorder, highlighting the toxic relationship between these two illnesses.

Achieving Recovery by Maintaining Stability

The constant swirl of emotions that bipolar disorder puts you through can make it hard to really step back and gauge how these emotions are affecting your life. Diabetes requires just as much control—without the proper diet and lifestyle, your blood sugar can spiral out of control just as quickly as your emotions and throw you into a state of mind that makes your bipolar disorder feel so much worse.

Whether you are aware of both of your illnesses, one of them or none, understanding that you need proper, guided treatment is the first step toward gaining control over them and restoring stability to your life. Undergoing a comprehensive psychological assessment is the key to getting a clearer picture of what is going on in your mind, how it’s affecting your body, and the steps that you can take to achieve harmony between the two. This helps you know what you need to focus on in order to keep your emotions and moods under control, which will also affect your attention to your diabetic food needs.

“You cannot be a diabetic without thinking about food and how it will affect you,” said Taylor, who suffers from type 1 diabetes. “Each item of food that I put into my mouth has so much more to it than the taste. When you eat, you have questions running through your mind such as, ‘How many carbs does this have?’, ‘Did I take enough insulin for this?’, ‘What if I am full but took too much insulin, do I still have to finish it?’ Those are just some of the questions, and that is for every single item I eat.”

This constant awareness and questioning can be difficult during either mania or depression, making understanding how to control your bipolar thoughts even more important. The understanding found through undergoing treatment allows you to maintain a stable state of mind and provides you with the focus that you need to keep track of the restrictions for your diabetes, and can also provide your life with the structure needed to control your bipolar disorder.

Benefits of Residential Treatment

Residential treatment provides you with a safe and comfortable environment to help you get accustomed to adhering to the proper lifestyle that is necessary to manage bipolar disorder. In addition to numerous holistic therapies, learning how to adhere to a consistent sleep schedule, regular daily activities, and eating the right foods will help promote a healthier state of mind and restore the balance that your disorder continues to tear away from you.

Much like bipolar disorder, diabetes is one that hinges on a proper diet to maintain optimal energy levels that keep your blood sugar from dropping too low. Limiting your intake of high-fat foods and sugars and increasing your consumption of vegetables and whole grains is the best way to do this. With access to private chefs, residential treatment programs can ensure that you eat foods that are beneficial for your diabetes, while also demonstrating the types of meals you can enjoy going forward. Weekly exercise classespaired with healthy eating help you establish the rhythm and physical health routine that benefit your whole person.

At the end of your treatment, you will understand that it is possible to maintain a stable routine and control the chaotic emotions that can come with bipolar disorder and diabetes. Only once you’ve experienced the stability that comes with treatment will you realize just how much routine and focus can help you manage your fluctuating states of mind and help you live the healthy, stable life that you deserve.

Bridges to Recovery provides a comprehensive treatment program for individuals suffering from both bipolar disorder and diabetes, as well as other co-occurring mental health disorders, substance abuse, or process addictions. Contact us to learn how you or your loved ones can manage these two illnesses and ensure that they don’t send your mind and life into chaos.

Lead Image Source: Unsplash user Lee Key