Based on our current theories about the causes of bipolar disorder, there is no ready way to prevent its onset. However, those at risk for bipolar disorder — because it runs in the family, for instance — can do a number of things to be sensitive to its symptoms. Be aware of manic or hypomanic episode symptoms so if they do occur, you can seek immediate help and treatment for them. The same is true for depressive symptoms — the sooner they are caught, the sooner they can be treated.

Mood changes can often be felt before their full onset. Talking to other family members who may suffer from bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) may help you identify the unique things in your family that bring about or trigger mood changes. Although this may a difficult conversation to contemplate having, it will allow you to be a better informed individual for your own self-care.

The best prevention strategy is for people who have already experienced an episode of mania or depression to stay on medication to avoid recurrence. The better you become at identifying the symptoms of bipolar disorder, the faster you can get help to prevent a full-blown episode.

Most people know certain feelings that indicate when a mood change is developing. Small changes in mood, sleep, energy, sexual interest, concentration, motivation, thoughts of doom and even changes in hygiene and dress may be early signs of an episode. If a person has had two or three episodes, they will likely benefit the most from remaining on some form of medication for much of the rest of their lives. A person also may receive a recommendation for medication indefinitely if they have had just one or two severe episodes that were considered life-threatening or required a significant period of hospitalization.

People who have family members with the condition should be alert to the possibility that they could develop the disorder. In short, if you’re afraid that you may get bipolar disorder or are at greater risk for it in the future, you should monitor yourself for symptoms of mania or depression.

While in most cases, bipolar disorder as we know it today cannot be prevented, a person can be on the lookout for its mania and depression symptoms and seek out help for it before it becomes a severe problem that significantly interferes with the person’s life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you find yourself with symptoms of mania or depression. Treatment for bipolar disorder is effective for most people who seek it out.