Managing bipolar disorder during COVID-19

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Possible challenges they face

  • Stressors around the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to a higher chance of triggering an episode for individuals living with bipolar disorder. As the uncertainty and restrictions may prompt mood instability. Moreover, people in a manic or hypomanic episode may find it difficult to comply with social restrictions and safety measures, which also heightens chances of infection.

Managing symptoms

  • Take your medication regularly. If you are running out of medications, please contact your clinic to see if a drug refill is available. Discuss with your doctor If you want to adjust the dosage.
  • Stick to a daily routine. The uncertain nature of the pandemic can make you feel unstable and stressful. Following a routine helps to ground yourself and gives you senses of stability and control.
  • Take breaks and stay away from social media and the news. Get updates from trustable sources, and minimise exposure to sensational information on the internet and social media.
  • Get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep can be a major trigger for people experiencing bipolar disorder. Getting enough sleep can stabilise your mood and shorten an episode. Here are some tips on improving your sleep.

Managing a crisis situation

  • Set a crisis plan. Create a crisis plan with people around you, including what kind of help you want, so they know how to handle an emergency.
  • If you are in distress or having suicidal feelings, here is a list of hotlines or online counselling services that are available:
    • 24-hour hotline counselling services:
      • Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong 24-hour hotline (Cantonese only): 2389 2222
      • The Samaritans (Multilingual): 2896 0000
      • Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre 24-hour (Cantonese only): 18288
      • Suicide Prevention Service: 2382 0000
    • Online counselling services:
  • If you are at risk of harming yourself or people around you, please dial 999 or visit closest A&E. For more mental health services provided by local NGOs, please visit our community directory.

How can friends and family help

  • Learn more about bipolar disorder
  • Make a plan for manic/hypomanic episodes. Having a plan can help both of you to feel stable and under control.
  • Learn their signs and Identify their triggers. Understanding signs and triggers for them can help to avoid or better manage an episode.
  • Providing assistance. Ensure they are maintaining a healthy routine, discuss how you can help or support them, or even plan with them regarding possible crisis situations and during a manic episode.
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