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Bipolar 1 Fatigue: 5 Ways To Relieve It

Medically reviewed by Ifeanyi Nwaka, M.D.
Posted on May 20, 2024

Do you ever feel so tired that it’s hard to get out of bed? This could be a sign of fatigue, which is common for those with bipolar 1 disorder. Living with bipolar 1 disorder can leave you feeling drained and lacking motivation. It’s not just about feeling sleepy — it can make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. Understanding this symptom is important for managing your day-to-day life with bipolar 1 disorder.

People with bipolar 1 disorder can experience severe mood swings, or mood episodes. During these mood swings, they might feel very energetic and excited (episodes of mania) or very sad and hopeless (episodes of depression). Fatigue can be a symptom of depression, mania, or a less severe form of mania called hypomania. People with mood disorders like bipolar 1 might feel fatigued more severely than those without the condition.

Fatigue can come from physical activity, stress, poor eating habits, or insufficient sleep. It can also be caused by certain medications used to treat bipolar disorder, like antidepressants and mood stabilizers. Sometimes, fatigue could signal a more serious health issue.

Read on for five ways to relieve fatigue with bipolar 1 disorder.

1. Get Moving

It may seem contradictory, but physical activity can help relieve fatigue. Exercise can boost energy by raising levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals help promote energy and improve mood.

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise at least three days a week can help improve your mood, energy, and sleep.

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Exercise can also help you sleep better at night. Physical activities like jogging, walking, and dancing can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and increase blood flow throughout the body.

Even a small amount of exercise can help you feel better. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise at least three days a week can help improve your mood, energy, and sleep. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can break it up into three 10-minute walks.

Members of MyDepressionTeam, the online social support group for people with depression and bipolar disorder, have talked about their favorite ways to get regular exercise. These activities include walking or dancing at home to a favorite song.

2. Downsize Stress

Another way to relieve fatigue is by managing your stress levels. Feeling stressed can use up a lot of energy. When you’re stressed, you might feel more tired and worn out. Navigating life with a mental illness may bring unexpected stressors. Having too much work or too many tasks to do every day can make stress, tiredness, and fatigue worse.

One way to lower stress is to lighten your load. Try focusing on fewer important tasks or asking others for help.

Relaxing activities can also help relieve stress and fatigue. Meditation and yoga are two good ways to relax. Meditation helps you focus on your breathing and clear your mind. Yoga helps stretch your muscles and can also be meditative. Both meditation and yoga can help reduce stress and improve fatigue.

3. Eat for Sustained Energy

The third way to relieve bipolar fatigue is to eat healthy for more steady and lasting energy throughout the day. Eating a healthy diet can help people with bipolar 1 fatigue find more energy. Keep in mind, however, that some foods and beverages that seem like they’ll boost energy — such as caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks — might only provide a short burst of energy. Afterward, you might end up feeling even more tired.

Eating a healthy diet, including foods like whole grains, nuts, and vegetables, can provide more steady energy levels throughout the day.

Fatigue can be a sign of dehydration. Make sure you’re getting enough water every day.
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Limit Caffeine

To have a healthy diet, it’s smart to watch your caffeine intake. Although many folks enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, having too much caffeine, especially later in the day, can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. It’s best to limit your caffeine intake, especially later in the day to avoid any negative effects on sleep.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking plenty of fluids each day is important for overall health and can also help relieve fatigue. Fatigue can be a sign of dehydration. When you’re feeling tired, drinking water can help give you a boost.

Mayo Clinic recommends that the average adult male should drink about 15.5 cups of fluid each day, and the average female should aim for about 11.5 cups. Most of these fluids should come from water and other beverages, with a small amount coming from food, like fruits and vegetables. Drinking fluids can help to improve your overall health and energy levels, and it can also help relieve fatigue.

4. Plan To Get Some Z’s

Sleep issues are common for people with bipolar 1 disorder. Sleep problems, whether it’s insomnia, sleep apnea, or getting too much sleep, can all contribute to fatigue.

The fourth way to relieve fatigue is by creating a healthy sleep routine. To do this, it’s important to set regular sleep and wake times and stick to them as much as possible. This routine helps your body get used to a regular sleep pattern. Also, try not to spend too much time in bed each night. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Try to avoid using electronics, and don’t exercise right before going to bed. Both can make it difficult to fall asleep right away. If you find yourself taking naps during the day, try to limit yourself to 30 minutes or less. Napping too long can interfere with your nighttime sleep.

People with bipolar 1 disorder on MyDepressionTeam have reported that activities like meditating, doing yoga, and taking walks help them feel better when fatigue hits.

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Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening can also help you fall asleep better at night. Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for several hours, so it’s best to avoid it after lunch. By following these tips, you can establish healthy sleep habits that will help you feel more refreshed and energized during the day.

5. Take Care of Your Health

The fifth way to help relieve fatigue from bipolar 1 disorder is to take care of your health and well-being. Be sure to maintain regular health care visits, take your medications as instructed, and make time for self-care.

Members of MyDepressionTeam have noted the importance of making time for self-care and wellness when experiencing fatigue. Members have reported that activities such as meditating, doing yoga, and taking walks help them feel better when fatigue hits.

Talk With Your Doctor

If your fatigue is affecting your daily life, you should discuss it with a health professional. They can help figure out if your fatigue is caused by bipolar 1, medications, or another health condition.

Some psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers, may cause fatigue. These medicines may be used to treat mental health disorders such as bipolar 1. If you think that your fatigue is a side effect of medication, talk to your doctor. They may decide to change the dosage or prescribe a different treatment option.

Bipolar 1 disorder needs long-term treatment. Telling your doctor about side effects like fatigue and how they affect your quality of life will help them figure out the best treatment options for you.

Find Your Team

MyDepressionTeam is the social network for people with depression, or related mental health conditions, and their loved ones. On MyDepressionTeam, more than 146,000 members come together to ask questions, offer support and advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with depression.

How do you manage fatigue with bipolar 1 disorder? What steps do you take when you have low energy levels? Share your experience or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on May 20, 2024
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    Ifeanyi Nwaka, M.D. earned his medical degree from the American University of Antigua College of Medicine. Learn more about him here.
    Michelle Collins, Ph.D. is a freelance science writer with over 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development. Learn more about her here.

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