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07/27/2012 12:14 AM

First in Series---Triggers

Posts: 11218
Group Leader

I wanted to start a series of posts (anyone can chime in with a new thread in the series!) about the various nuts and bolts and ins and outs of bipolar disorder. Oldtimers, don't be afraid to repeat what you said in a post two years ago (or two months ago!). Newtimers, ask all the questions you have!!!!

First off, I want to copy something from Bipolar Caregivers website about common triggers:

Stressful negative or positive life events (e.g. the birth of a baby, a promotion, losing a job, ending a relationship or moving house).1

Disruption to sleep patterns (e.g. due to jet lag or social events). Decreases in the time the person sleeps can contribute to hypomanic or manic symptoms, and increases in sleep or bedrest may be followed by depressive symptoms.2

Disruption to routine. A regular structure (e.g. regular going to bed and waking up times, regular activities and social contact) can help to maintain the bodies sleep patterns and usual energy levels. 3

Too much caffeine

Too much stimulation from external sources (e.g. clutter, traffic, noise, light, crowds, work deadlines or social activities)

Too much stimulation from within the person (e.g. overstimulation from lots of activity and excitement when the person tries to achieve challenging goals or having stimulating substances like caffeine (e.g. in coffee or cola) or nicotine (e.g. in cigarettes or nicotine patches).

Abusing alcohol or street drugs can cause the person to have ongoing bipolar symptoms, more frequent relapses and hospitalizations.4

Conflict and stressful interactions with people

Illness that is not treated or managed.

________End of QUOTE________________

Here is WebMD's Definition of TRIGGER:

You may also discover particular "triggers" -- situations or events that can provoke a period of mania or depression. Some people find they're more likely to become depressed or manic during stressful times at work or during holidays. Many people see seasonal patterns to their mood changes. Of course, not everyone can identify triggers. Also, some triggers can't be anticipated or avoided, like a serious illness or a traumatic event.


Stay tuned for part II....

Sources for part I: common-bipolar-triggers

Post edited by: marriedtoit, at: 07/27/2012 12:16 AM

Post edited by: marriedtoit, at: 07/27/2012 12:32 AM


07/27/2012 12:26 AM
Posts: 11218
Group Leader

Triggers are events that can cause your loved one (or YOU if you are one of our members with bipolar disorder) to become destabilized. If your loved one is not on meds or is in denial (on meds and in denial is something we see WAY too often), you can see a manic or depressive episode result. If your loved one is on meds and committed to stability, a trigger can derail him or her in a major way.

Tracking triggers, identifying triggers, and learning how to avoid those triggers s/he can and cope with those s/he can't is CRITICAL.

So what triggers to watch for.

One common trigger is OVERSTIMULATION.


"Overstimulated Symptoms:

Feeling overstimulated is a common bipolar symptom. This includes feeling like you can't go on and that you have to quit what you're doing because of the pressure. Feeling overwhelmed in crowds, feeling pressured by others, wanting to hide in bed, wanting to run away, and feeling physically uncomfortable and anxious are other common symptoms. These feelings are often triggered by taking on too much, so lifestyle management is often the key to dealing with them."

---from "Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder" by Julie Fast and John Preston


I agree 100%. Overstimulation is DEFINITELY a common trigger for most people with bipolar disorder.

And yes, this is a matter of "Lifestyle Management," not simply meds.

My husband can handle loud noise--he listens to his 70s-80s rock at a deafening volume. But if he is in any place and there is more than one source of loud noise? Bad. So, we were at a diner recently, and they piped, not loudly, but as background music in the radio...only the reception was bad it was static. Hubby and I had to ask them to turn it off. Any place where there is a TV blaring while people are trying to talk? A "no go" (Army term for "not gonna happen"Wink. He hates the blaring flourescent lights at the Big Stores. (But he can handle them for a time. Now, add in us not being able to find anyone who can give us info about the toilets or the blinds? He can get really agitated really fast.)

Does this mean I never go anywhere? No. And I recommend you just adjust your thinking a little. It is unrealistic, and plain dumb, to drag my hubby to places he will be triggered in. It is equally unrealistic (and dumb) for my husband to expect me to never go to Walmart, never go to weddings, never go to parties. If I want to go, I go without him. If asked about him (often I am not...a lot of people I see every day are dual career couples and often one spouse is doing something without the other), I say "My husband really hates these events."

I love going to college basketball games. But every single trigger is there: multiple sources of loud noise, crowds, overlit spaces...too hot often, too, and the people in the stands can be really obnoxious. So did I give up my season tickets and sit home feeling sorry for myself? No sirree. I take friends with me. I take our custodians with me. I take former students or current students. I take visitors. And if nobody is able to go with me? I go by myself.

What are YOUR loved ones triggers and how do you and your loved one cope/avoid/handle them?

Post edited by: marriedtoit, at: 07/27/2012 12:33 AM

07/27/2012 02:06 AM
Posts: 513

Very good thread married. My dog woke me up on the couch and I was on my way to my bed, then I noticed she knocked over my drink and spilled it on the floor. Trigger in itself, not just knocking my drink over preventing me from going to bed by having to clean it up. But also being a trigger that at 4:00 am I had to wipe it up off the floor and then spray some cleaner on it, being that soda and wood floors leave a nice sticky mess on the floor.

I have more that I will come up with later when I'm not so "out of it". So a puppy and all the mess they create along with potty training them is a trigger in itself, but the benefit of me being able to love on her and the fact she doesn't leave my side while I'm in the bed until I wake up, out way the negative things that come along with having her. But boy does she make me SO mad sometimes W00t!!!!

So I will mess around until the rest of the family wakes up, and see what I can do for innerglow, knowing she won't be feeling well today. Great thread though, I hope others chime in on what their or their BPSO triggers are.

07/27/2012 06:00 AM
Posts: 4891
VIP Member

His mom--he can talk to her on the phone and not get triggered, but can't be in the same state as her without anxiety taking over.

travel by car--I drive, or he takes a half an ativan. Going on longer car trips used to be so miserable, I finally vowed to never go anywhere with him again until he changed his ways. We are driving about 3 hours away tonight to go camping and I'm not worried in the least about this trip. He seems to be a little anxious, but I don't anticipate anything major.

Plumbing issues--leaks, specifically, make him very anxious. He is able to fix them, but not without a lot of pacing and worry.

movies, news stories, anything that reminds him of his son--nowadays he just gets sad, teary. He used to rage and get verbally violent towards me.

putting demands on him that he isn't wanting to deal with--like cleaning up, etc. I basically let things go a lot more, and only occasionally mention what I want him to do. When he's ready, he takes care of it.

Although he has ativan for triggers, he rarely uses it. I know this because I dispense it. He has come such a long way KNOWING prior to there being an issue that he needs an ativan. I respect and trust his judgement on this because it is such a rare occurance.

07/27/2012 06:43 AM
Posts: 439

Thanks Married, this was very informative! There is so much I don't know about BP and even though things will probably never work out with my husband, he will always be a part of my life. I think it is critical that I learn as much as I can about BP in order to understand him so I can help my daughter in her relationship with her dad and also to watch for signs in my daughter as she develops. I would hate like hell for her to have BP but if that were the case, I would want to be as educated as possible to get her the help she would need asap.

07/27/2012 07:28 AM

Thanks for this post. It helps me realize why things were so bad toward the end of my H's stay with us. Unmedicated, he didn't have a chance. I also realize why now he is been triggered left and right, which is why he is not crashing.

His aunt is really manipulative and probably keeps him triggered all over the place because I believe she is BP, probably NS and BPD possibly more.

I will remember this, though because I believe my son will be diagnosed BP. I need to get him evaluated soon. He has had problems with raging during tantrums since very young, but it was hard to tell if it was usual tantrums or more.

I will post more on this later on the BP family board, I think.

One interesting post would be how spouses that develop PTSD have triggers too, which makes the family environment even more stressful!

07/27/2012 07:42 AM
Posts: 3940
Group Leader

Crowds is a big one for my husband. Our son is performing at a fair and an ocean pier this weekend. I know its a trigger for J, so I do whatever I can to defuse it, by letting the day go at his timing, allowing extra time for traffic without stressing. Just keeping the day as airy as possible, not adding any more stress to it.

07/27/2012 02:58 PM
Posts: 513

My kids arguing for no good reason, only after it's been going on from the time they wake up until about 4:00, then I really start getting agitated which in turn makes me more prone to get upset about other "not so big" issues.

Going over to my families for any kind of visiting; birthdays, Christmas etc. Dealing with any of them besides my nephew is really a trigger for me.

02/09/2013 11:07 PM
Posts: 11218
Group Leader

Bumping....hope it will be helpful to a few new people...

02/10/2013 06:43 AM
Posts: 2379
Senior Member

For the last four days I have run our tree service booth at the Home Show. Everything about it is a trigger, getting all dressed to the nines, driving downtown, feel like I am sitting in a fish bowl, and having to be "ON" every moment selling our service to thousands of people. Yuch! I take my Klonopin at regular intervals and crash at night.

In eight months my oldest is getting married. There will be showers and dinners and 350 at the wedding/reception not to mention he is getting married 3 days after our anniversary. I am already having little panicky moments and it is going to be such a glorious time. I will have to keep to my regular schedule as much as possible, rely on my PRN, and see a therapist for probably the three months preceding the event.

My eight yr old is showing signs of early onset BP and it has been a huge trigger, I feel guilty and so very sad that he will be taking meds from such a young age. I cried when he got his first script. A major med change has been in order because now I have the monumental task of guiding my sweet boy thru the ups and downs of this very serious disorder that has so much stigma attached to it.

My biggest daily triggers are the hour between coming home and sitting down to dinner, can be quite irritable if I'm not careful.and arriving to appoinments in a timely fashion. I hate being late!


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