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As with many emotions, however, people with bipolar disorder appear to be more vulnerable to extreme responses.“Everyone can become frustrated or angry, but loss of control can be part and parcel of bipolar disorder rage,” says Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
That’s where classic advice to take three deep breaths or count to 10 comes in—anything that interrupts the anger response. That might mean walking away from a loved one when he or she is starting to get angry or removing young children from a potentially ugly scene, he says. For Paul of Las Vegas, an innocuous comment by his wife during dinner could flip his switch. “It got bad.” Paul recognized that something wasn’t right with his ever-changing moods, but stigma kept him from seeking treatment for bipolar until a year or so ago.He would keep it together at the office, only to take it out in harsh words at home. His wife bore the brunt of his verbal attacks before their marriage ended.Brondolo recommends tracking various aspects of your feelings and behaviors on a regular basis—although she notes that such self-awareness isn’t easy once your brain starts misfiring.Her checklist starts with the basics: Am I upset about something? Also consider whether you are feeling anxious, sleeping normally, drinking alcohol, experiencing symptoms of mania or depression, and taking medications as prescribed.