Bipolar disorder can be challenging and having someone to talk to whom you can trust or joining a peer support group can make it easier to cope. Knowing people who are also living with the disorder and listening and sharing your story can really help to validate your concerns.
Below is a list of recommended support groups and information services:
- Australian Society of Bipolar Disorders (ASBD)
- International Society for Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar Australia
Beyond Blue Beyond blue is dedicated to improving understanding and acceptance of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and postnatal depression.
Blackdog Institute Specialist mood disorders assessment, treatment and information. It contributes to research in the area and offers education programs to consumers and professionals. A vast and informative site that offers wonderful resources.
Headspace Support, information and health services for young people aged 12-25yrs with mental health problems.
Bipolar Caregivers An informative site for people who care for those with bipolar.
The Sydney Clinic A private psychiatric hospital in the eastern suburbs of Sydney which provides inpatient and outpatient care for mental illness. Has a regular bipolar support group covered by private health insurance.
Mood Gym This website assists people with depression to use cognitive behavioural strategies to relieve and prevent depressive symptoms.
- E-Couch Information and evidence based online therapy for people with anxiety or depression.
- Bipolar 2 Treatment & Bipolar Spectrum (Jim Phelps – PsychEd site)
Other useful sites
- bpHope Magazine A wonderful online magazine full of wonderful stories, blogs, informative videos and research updates.
- Best Bipolar Blogs of 2019
- Top 100 Bipolar Blogs & Websites to Follow in 2019
Louisa G. Sylvia, Ph.D. and Andrew A. Nierenberg, M.D., The Wellness Workbook for Bipolar Disorder (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2015).
David D. Burns, M.D., The Feeling Good Handbook, revised ed. (New York: Plume, 1999).
Thilo Deckersbach, Ph.D., Britta Hölzel, Ph.D, Lori Eisner, Ph.D., Sara W. Lazar, and Andrew A. Nierenberg, M.D., Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Bipolar Disorder (New York: Guilford Press, 2014).
S. Nassir Ghaemi, M.D., Mood Disorders: A Practical Guide, 2nd edition (Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2008).
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (New York: Vintage, 1997).
William J. Knaus, Ed.D., and Albert Ellis, Ph.D., The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program, 2nd edition (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2012).
Stephanie McMurrich Roberts, Ph.D., Louisa Grandin Sylvia, Ph.D., and Noreen A. Reilly-Harrington, Ph.D., The Bipolar II Disorder Workbook (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2013).
David J. Miklowitz, Ph.D., The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know, 3rd edition (New York: Guilford Press, 2018).
Susan J. Noonan, M.D., M.P.H., Managing Your Depression: What You Can Do to Feel Better (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).
Phelps J. and Aiken, Chris., Bipolar, Not so Much. Understanding Your Mood Swings and Depression. (W.W. Norton & Co, 2017).
William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (New York: Random House, 1990).
Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness (New York: Guilford Press, 2007)
James Phelps. A Spectrum Approach to Mood Disorders. (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2016)
William Marchand. Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder – How Mindfulness and Neuroscience Can Help You Manage Your Bipolar Symptoms. (Oakland: New Harbinger, 2015)
Monica Ramirez Basco. The Bipolar Workbook – Tools for Controlling Your Mood Swings.2nd Ed. ( New York: Guildford Press, 2015)
Useful Apps for Bipolar Disorder
One of my favourite for its simplicity. iMoodJournal makes this process easy. Alerts remind you to check in and choose from a colourful scale of mood labels. There are also hashtags to help you organise your thoughts and triggers. We like that you can visualise hashtags on a chart to identify any correlations between how you feel and your sleep patterns, medications, or other identifiers. The app also links to Facebook if you want to check in with friends and family.
Daylio is a micro-journal app which lets you keep track of your mood, monitor activities and make new habits by highlighting patterns. In general, Daylio is one of the best mood tracker apps for people who are looking to track their daily habits with minimal app involvement. Just set the app once and it’ll give you non-intrusive pop every day at the specific time of the day. No need to open the app to enter your mood. And after a while, you can use this data to look for patterns in your daily habits, make sense of those mood swings and maybe make a few new habits.
This probably one of the best apps on the market. eMoods is a very intuitive app with a very simple UI, you can log activity every day by simply tapping the buttons which correspond to the level for one emotion. This may seem a little complicated but it’s really not. The whole picture comes together when you gather the data for a few days in an informative graph. The calendar keeps track of the activities and displays little dots for each emotion input that day. If you pay for the app it lets you time stamp the notes which can be very helpful in exacting the situation. You can add medication notifications in this app if you often forget to take your pills, which I believe is a great option. You can also generate a detailed report of your daily activities and present it to your counsellor which should help you in getting a better diagnosis.
Originally known as Diary Mood Tracker, Moodcast works as a smart journal which encourages you to take notes of your activities daily by writing it down like a journal and then it automatically detects your mood to create a profile based on your data entry. Just like Daylio, you get a detailed insight into your mood, habits, and emotions with informative charts and graphs for a set period of time, but you also get additional features like journal style data entry if you upgrade to the premium version of the app. This app is for people who like to write own their daily experiences and wish to look for patterns because Moodcast does that for you by guessing your writing style and generating a profile for you.
If you’re searching for a mood tracker with a ton of bells and whistles, Moodlytics may be right for you. Yes, you can track your ups and downs simply with text, but you can also use emojis, attach photos, journal your feelings, set reminders, set mood goals, log moods from days passed, and more. The more you log, the better your feedback will be, as you can create charts that break down just how often you’re feeling a certain way.
Mood swings are par for the course when you live with bipolar disorder. The Moodtrack Diary app is designed to help you get a handle on them, or at least learn how to better predict and manage them. I like the graphing feature that allows you to view your moods over time. This may help you identify trends and cycles.
Optimism is designed to help you identify and work through your feelings as they arise, rather than when you’re in the midst of trouble. According to the app makers, it helps you learn your triggers so you can recognise early warning signs. It does this primarily through mood and trigger tracking, and also lets you create reports to share with your treatment team.
T2 Mood Tracker
Brought to you by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, the T2 Mood Tracker takes a simple, clean approach. If you’re looking for a bunch of bells and whistles, this may not be the app for you. The T2 Mood Tracker is free of clutter, allowing you to rate your moods by sliding a bar to the right or left, and add notes about your medications and treatments.
When it comes to the highs and lows of bipolar disorder, sometimes people just need a break. Learning how to regulate your moods as best as possible can be difficult, but deep breathing and relaxation can help. The Breathe2Relax app gets my vote because it’s a simple deep breathing app that requires you to slow down and relax. It teaches you how to breathe from your diaphragm and can assist in easing anxiety and stress.
DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach
Dialectical Behaviour therapy, or DBT, is a type of therapy that is sometimes used to treat bipolar disorder. This app uses the principles of DBT, with a skills coach and a behaviour tracker that work in conjunction to help you slow down, analyse your thoughts and feelings, and apply what you’ve learned for better moods and outcomes.
Being happy can be a matter of outlook. While no one would suggest that bipolar disorder can be “fixed,” there’s little doubt that having a more positive attitude can help you manage stress and moods. Happier is an app that works to keep you optimistic by introducing you to a community of like-minded people, and giving you a place to journal your thoughts and feelings.