Crisis Planning

Prepare a personal crisis plan to be used if your symptoms become so severe and/or dangerous that you need others to take over responsibility for your care. Your crisis plan may include:

A list of your supporters, their roles in your life and their phone numbers.

A list of all medications you are taking and information on why you are taking them, and the name and telephone number of your doctor and pharmacy.

A list of symptoms that may indicate the need for supporters to make decisions for you and take over responsibility for your care, such as:

  • Uncontrollable pacing
  • Severe, irritable depression
  • Inability to stop compulsive behaviors
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Abusive or violent behavior
  • Substance abuse
  • Thoughts or threats of suicide
  • Significant changes in sleep patterns — inability to sleep or difficulty getting out of bed
  • Refusal of food
  • Instructions that tell your supporters what you need them to do for you.
  • Directions for care of your children and/or pets in the event of hospitalization.
  • Directions for notifying your employer in the event of your hospitalization and what he or she should be told.
  • Insurance information to use in the event that emergency medical care and/or hospitalization is needed.
  • A list of medications that have worked in the past to stabilize you in crisis situations and a list of any medications you do not wish to take, doctors you do not wish to see and hospitals where you do not wish to be treated.

Give completed copies of your plan to your supporters and explain your needs to them. Update your plan as needed. Your local DBSA support group can help develop your plan. You may also want to consult your health care provider to determine whether you should develop a medical advance directive, and consult legal counsel to determine if a statement of Power of Attorney is appropriate.

Addressing Traumatic Issues

If you feel traumatic events are causing or worsening your symptoms, seek a treatment program or additional support group that:

  • Validates your experiences.
  • Empowers you to take positive action on your own behalf.
  • Helps you establish a connection with other people.

Suicide Prevention

Mood disorders are serious illnesses and can be life threatening. People with mood disorders who do not receive effective treatment have a suicide rate as high as 20%. Your life is important, and you can help yourself stay well by adhering to the following strategies:

  • Treat your symptoms early. Don’t wait until you are in a complete funk to act. Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider that you trust and respect.
  • Set up a system with others so you are never alone when you are deeply depressed or feeling out of control.
  • Have regularly scheduled health care appointments and keep them.
  • Throw away all old medications.
  • Have firearms or other things you could use to harm yourself locked away where you do not have access to them.
  • Keep pictures of your favorite people in visible locations at all times.
  • Instruct a close supporter to take away your credit cards, checkbooks and car keys when you are feeling suicidal.
  • Make plans for the future that you can look forward to, and try to keep the present in perspective, remembering that the painful times will not last forever.

Content Provided by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Website