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Section 4
Track #4 - Simplifying Symptoms into 8 Categories & a Preventative Maintenance Plan

CEU Question 4 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Bipolar
Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track, we presented characteristics of clients who exhibit the symptoms of a psychosis. These are delusional thoughts; hallucinations; and paranoia.

I have often found, probably like you, that predicting an episode before it spirals out of control can greatly reduce a bipolar client’s risk of self-harm and psychotic breakdowns.  I feel that in order for a serious manic or depressive state to be prevented, the client must take an active role in monitoring their behavior.  Do you agree?

On this track, we will present techniques to predict manic and depressive states and to aid clients through these cycles:  Listing Symptoms According to Category; Preventative Maintenance Plan; and Three-Part Breathing Exercise

3 Techniques for Predicting Manic and Depressive States

Share on Facebook 1. Technique:  Listing Symptoms According to 8 Categories
The first technique I use is "Listing Symptoms According to Category".  Chad was a manic-depressive client of mine whose depressive states became so overwhelming, he could barely function.   To help Chad identify his symptoms more easily, I broke them down into eight categories:
1. Expressions: common expressions that client says prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "I’m bored", "What’s the point?", "I’m sorry I’m such a burden", and "Things are not right in my life."
2. Thoughts: common thoughts client experiences prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "I have no friends", "Is this all there is?", "Things will never get better—never", and "Everything is difficult."
3. Actions: common actions client does prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "Listen to old, sad music", "Overanalyze everything", and "Focus on the past".
4. Physical signs: common traits client notices prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "Wring hands", "Have problems sleeping", "Don’t feel animated", and "crying or sobbing."
5. Sleep: common sleeping patterns client notices prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "Sleep through the afternoon", and "Wake up often during the night".
6. Relations with Others: common behavior towards other people prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "Very irritated and snappy," "Have trouble thinking of anyone but myself", and "Can’t call friends".
7. Work or School: common thoughts or feelings client exhibits prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "Work is boring", "I can’t seem to do a good job at work," and "Feel unappreciated for work I do."
8. Eating Habits, Alcohol, Drugs, and Medications: common habits and behavior regarding eating, alcohol, drugs and medication prior to or during a depressive or manic state.  Chad wrote, "Stop taking medications or take it sporadically", "Stop eating and notice significant weight loss", and "Take caffeine pills to get some energy."

By simplifying symptoms into these categories, Chad could separate his bipolar behavior from that of his normal behavior.

Share on Facebook 2. Technique:  Preventative Maintenance Plan

Now that Chad has identified his depressive symptoms, the second technique I asked him to complete is a "Preventative Maintenance Plan".  I asked Chad to brainstorm ideas that he or his wife Sophia could do to help Chad’s depression from becoming debilitating.  Together with his wife, Chad came up with several activities that counteracted his symptoms and kept him from
complete depression:
1. "Sophia and I go to a local concert/art gallery/bookstore.  Anything that will stimulate my senses and gets me out of the house."
2. "Play modern, dance related music to keep melancholy at bay.  Dance with Sophia."
3. "Sophia forces me to eat at least 2/3 of the food she puts on my plate, whether I’m hungry or not.  She has agreed to make my favorite dishes when I begin to eat less."
4. "Do yoga to stimulate energy instead of taking caffeine pills."
5. "Sophia will visit me at work to break up the monotony."
As you can see, Chad’s wife Sophia played a significant role in preventing his depression from overrunning his life. 

Think of your bipolar client. Would he or she benefit from a "Preventative Maintenance Plan"?

Share on Facebook 3. Technique:  Three-Part Breathing
In addition to "Listing Symptoms According to Category" and "Preventative Maintenance Plan", the third technique I suggested Chad use specifically addressed his sleeping problems.  This relaxation technique is known as three-part breathing exercise and there are several relaxation techniques available for sleepless clients.  Review some with your client and figure out which ones best suit them. 

I asked Chad to practice this exercise before he goes to bed at night to put him into a relaxed state: Take a deep, diaphragmatic breath.  Imagine that your lungs are divided into three parts.  Visualize the lowest part of your lungs filling with air.  Use only your diaphragm; your chest should remain relatively still.  Imagine the middle part of your lungs filling, and as you visualize the expansion, allow your rib cage to move slightly forward.  Visualize the upper part filling with air and our lungs becoming completely full.  Your shoulders will rise slightly and move backwards. 

Exhale fully and completely.  As you empty your upper lungs, drop your shoulders slightly.  Visualize the air leaving the middle portion of your lungs, and feel your rib cage contract.  Pull in your abdomen to force out the last bit of air from the bottom of your lungs. Repeat the exercise four times.

I recorded this exercise onto a tape so Chad could easily play it to himself without having to memorize the entire exercise.  I also find it helps clients to hear their therapist’s voice when there are especially anxious.

On this track, we presented techniques to predict manic and depressive states and to aid clients through these cycles. These were  Listing Symptoms According to Category; Preventative Maintenance Plan; and Three-Part Breathing Exercise.

On the next track, we will examine conditions that may co-occur with bipolar disorder:  autoimmune disorders, borderline personality disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.  We will also present ways to diagnose these comorbid conditions along with ways to treat clients with comorbid conditions.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 4
What are three techniques to predict manic and depressive states and to aid
clients? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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