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What is a bipolar meltdown and how can it be managed? What are the signs and symptoms?

A fierce, rage attack by a bipolar disorder patient is one of the lesser-known symptoms. It often comes like a bolt in the blue and catches you off-guard!

Bipolar disorder can manifest in many unpredictable ways. Unfortunately, someone suffering from the condition does not have much control of their mood and emotions.

The emotional highs and lows they experience do not happen with warnings. And when these feelings overwhelm an untreated bipolar individual, things can go awry! Why? Because they cannot make sense of those feelings or process them.

According to the World Health Organization, 40 million individuals worldwide suffer from bipolar disorder. Also, the National Library of Medicine reported that the psychotic and mixed episodes of a bipolar patient are accompanied by severe anger and aggression.

In this article, I will discuss how to identify and manage a bipolar meltdown.

What is a Bipolar Meltdown?

What is a Bipolar Meltdown

In this section, I will explain the basic definition of bipolar meltdown.

The anxiety and frustration developed during a depressive episode can escalate to extreme rage in no time. So, it is very likely that a bipolar patient’s anger issues can intensify and get out of hand.

The question of where and how to divert the uncontrollable rage bugs them. So, being unable to regulate their emotions, they end up lashing out at others. This is called a bipolar meltdown!

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Meltdown

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Meltdown

Let me guide you on how to identify a bipolar meltdown.

A bipolar meltdown is characterized by extreme rage or anger. Given that bipolar disorder patient shows significant mood fluctuations, it can be challenging to determine when they might snap. It is more likely to happen during manic episodes wherein they either experience extreme joy or violent anger.

It could start with being incredibly irritable and fidgety. Rapid speech and reckless behavior are other signs to look for.

5 Major Signs of Bipolar Meltdown

In this section, I will take you through some of the obvious warning signs and symptoms that can help you spot a bipolar meltdown.

1. Rage Attacks

Rage Attacks

Certain triggers can set a bipolar person off in such a way that their anger becomes uncontrollable. This can result in a massive outburst in the form of a brutal rage attack. It erupts a boiling pot of anger. So, patients in this state start being unreasonable, use expletives to express their frustration, throw tantrums, and destroy property.

2. Physical abuse

Physical abuse

Unpredictable mood swings and extreme emotions of a bipolar person experiencing a meltdown can also lead to physical altercations. Having lost complete control of their anger, manic bipolar patients can engage in risky physical fights assaulting or injuring people around them.

3. Conflicts in relationships, family, and at work

Conflicts in relationships, family, and at work

A bipolar meltdown can affect both personal and professional relationships. Extreme rage of bipolar patients can have their loved ones walking on eggshells all the time. It can also cause verbal spats and nasty outbursts at their workplace. The unprofessional, abusive behavior is more likely to hamper the decorum at work and burn the bridges forever.

4. Complete social isolation

Complete social isolation

Who would want to deal or associate with a person showing intense signs of bipolar meltdown? Most people will think twice before they interact with a dangerously impulsive bipolar patient on the verge of a breakdown.

They also tend to either push their loved ones away or hurt them by taking out all their bottled-up anger on them. So, patients displaying bipolar meltdown are shunned by their loved ones as well as society driving them to total social isolation.

5. Increased tendency to blame others

Increased tendency to blame others

Blaming other people when frustration builds up is another common symptom of a bipolar meltdown. Although bipolar patients experience remorse and loneliness after an outburst, their temporary blame game on a loop with loved ones can permanently destroy good relationships.

How to Manage a Bipolar Meltdown?

In this section, I will discuss some effective ways that I have used to address a bipolar meltdown in my patients.

Violent behavior is more common in bipolar patients, particularly during mania and psychosis triggering a total meltdown. They are more likely to develop suicidal tendencies. So, it must be recognized and managed as soon as possible in the following ways.

1. Identify what triggers your anger

Identify what triggers your anger

It is advisable to maintain a journal to make a note of your thoughts that set you off. These could be things that cause frustration and stress you out. The key to effectively managing bipolar meltdowns is being proactive and self-aware in spotting problematic thought patterns beforehand before they mess with your emotions during manic episodes.

You must first take the initiative to help yourselves with small yet significant positive actions. Cumulatively, they will make a huge impact on your coping mechanisms helping you not just to get by but also improve in your life.

2. Listen to your body

Listen to your body

This is one of the best ways to identify an impending bipolar meltdown. Make sure to write these down in your daily journal and go through the list every day. This way you will be better equipped to deal with your outburst.

So, how do you look for potential red flags that can trigger a bipolar meltdown? Focus more on your inner emotions and bodily sensations than your surroundings to identify the source of your anger.

The next step is to avoid reacting to this trigger. Instead, take deep breaths and consciously try answering the question about what makes you lose your calm. The idea is to gradually tame or get rid of that source with a long-term strategy.

3. Channel your rage into a positive force

Channel your rage into a positive force

This is a great way to burn off some steam and feel better as you end up being most productive. So, when dealing with a bipolar meltdown, it might be helpful if you turn towards art or creativity. It is best to channel all your negative emotions into a positive work of art.

Engaging in blood-pumping workouts and sports activities is another way to healthily manage your challenging emotions. And thus prevent the negative consequences of a bipolar meltdown.

4. Talk to counselors and support groups

Talk to counselors and support groups

This is a great preventive measure and helps keep meltdowns at bay. Patients with regular therapy can benefit from the different counseling techniques. And have better control of their emotions, especially feelings of anger.

Also, a therapist’s clinic and support groups offer a secure and encouraging environment to reveal difficult emotions. Talking to a community of positively recovering bipolar patients can lower the likelihood of a bipolar meltdown during a manic episode.

Reaching out to your loved ones can also have life-changing treatment outcomes. A solid support system can make you feel loved and cared for and go a long way in stabilizing your moods.

5. Improve your lifestyle

Improve your lifestyle

Controlling breakdowns and anger is anyway challenging for non-psychiatric people. So, rage control is even more challenging for a bipolar patient. The condition is episodic, so they tend to explode although they do not intend to.

It is therefore advisable to make positive lifestyle changes by inculcating healthy habits. Practicing mindfulness meditation, number counting when angry, yoga and deep breathing is an excellent way to maintain composure. It will be tough to detach from anger in the beginning but you will get better with time.

Inadequate sleep can also interfere with your thought patterns and emotional stability. So, make sure to get six to eight hours of sleep daily. Eat nutritious foods to not only nourish yourself physically but also to nurture yourself mentally. After all, you are what you eat, remember?

Last but not least! Do not let your efforts go down the drain by resorting to sin substances. It is important to abstain from drugs and alcohol to keep junk emotions away from your brain and prioritize self-care.

6. Be consistent with your medication

Be consistent with your medication

Medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers in prescribed dosages have done wonders for bipolar patients. However, discontinuing them mid-treatment without your doctor’s recommendation can worsen manic episodes.

This can trigger multiple bipolar meltdowns creating havoc in your life. You do not want this, do you? So, be very disciplined when it comes to prescribed medications.

Be sure to attend your follow-up sessions and update your prescription medication from time to time including the dosage. It keeps your treatment progress in check and helps prevent frequent bipolar meltdowns.


So, a bipolar meltdown is definitely manageable. The disorder can make the manic episodes difficult to control as rage is unpredictable in most bipolar cases. However, appropriate treatments and therapy approaches should help them lead a normal life.

Hope some of these insights were useful. You can also reach out to me with further questions for more clarity.

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