Support in bipolar disorder recovery is important. People with bipolar disorder do better when they have support from family members and friends. Those whose loved ones are involved and supportive tend to recover more quickly, experience fewer manic and depressive episodes, and have milder symptoms.
Tips for coping with bipolar disorder in the family
- Accept your loved one’s limits – People with bipolar disorder can’t control their moods. They can’t just snap out of a depression or get a hold of themselves during a manic episode. Neither depression nor mania can be overcome through self-control, willpower, or reasoning. Telling a person to “Stop acting crazy” or “Look on the bright side” won’t help.
- Accept your own limits – You can’t rescue a person with bipolar disorder, nor can you force someone to take responsibility for getting better. You can offer support, but ultimately, recovery is in the hands of the person with the illness.
- Reduce stress – Stress makes bipolar disorder worse, so try to find ways to reduce stress in your loved one’s life. Ask how you can help and volunteer to take over some of the person’s responsibilities if needed. Establishing and enforcing a daily routine—with regular times for getting up, having meals, and going to bed—can also reduce family stress.
- Communicate openly – Open and honest communication is essential to coping with bipolar disorder in the family. Share your concerns in a loving way, ask the person how he or she is feeling, and make an effort to truly listen—even if you disagree with your loved one or don’t relate to what’s being said.
Supporting a person with bipolar disorder
What you can say that helps:
- You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
- I understand you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings.
- You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
- I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
- You are important to me. Your life is important to me.
Convincing a person with bipolar disorder to see a doctor
Aside from offering emotional support, the best way to help someone with bipolar disorder is by encouraging and supporting treatment. However, people with bipolar disorder tend to lack insight into their condition, so it’s not always easy to get them to a doctor. When they’re manic, they feel great and don’t realize there’s a problem. When they’re depressed, they may recognize something’s wrong, but lack the energy to seek help.
If your loved one won’t acknowledge the possibility of bipolar disorder, don’t argue about it. The idea may be frightening to the person, so be sensitive. Suggest a routine medical checkup instead, or a doctor’s visit for a specific symptom, such as insomnia, irritability, or fatigue (you can call ahead to tell the doctor of your bipolar disorder concerns).
Signs of mania or a manic episode:
- A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling “jumpy” or “wired.”
- Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
- Being easily distracted, being restless and sleeping little
- Increasing goal- directed activities, such as taking on new projects
- Having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities
- Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable, high-risk behaviours, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.[/one-half-first]
Signs of depression or a depressive episode:
- A long period of feeling worried or empty
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Feeling tired or “slowed down”
- Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Being restless or irritable
- Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide
Things to remember when caring for someone with bi polar.
- Bi Polar illness is no-ones fault.
- Offer support, understanding & hope.
- Every person is different in their symptoms.
- Communication is the key.
- Look after yourself and find support.
If you have any questions or concerns about living with someone who has bipolar, or would like to find out more about treatment for depression, Perth psychologists or how to find a psychologist who works with bipolar disorder, contact us today.Article Title: Living with Someone who has Bipolar
Article By: Vision Counselling and Psychology, Perth, Western Australia
Web Address: www.visioncounselling.com.au
Published: 03/03/2016 “Effective Communication”, Robinson, L., Segal, J., and Smith, M. (Help Guide), Available: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/effective-communication.htm (Accessed: 2015, January 01).
“Stress Management”, Smith, M. and Segal, R. (Help Guide), Available: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm (Accessed: 2015, January 01). Help Guide National Institute of Mental Health Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club