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Bipolar Disorder Support Tips for Caregivers

By HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), more than 10 million people in the U.S. are affected with bipolar disorder (BP). BP is also known as manic depression. The median age of BP is 25-years-old, and men and women are equally diagnosed with the disease.

There are two phases of the BP illness: the manic phase and the depressive phase. These cycles of highs and lows can last days or weeks.

It is very important for people with BP to seek proper treatment. Bipolar disorder can be treated with medications and regular therapy talk visits to a psychiatrist or support groups. Extreme cases of BP may include hallucinations or delusions. Also, bipolar disorder is associated with a high rate of suicide.

Like diabetes and hypertension, bipolar disorder can be difficult for family and friends. Family and friends have to manage a BP patient's behavioral issues which may include: severe depression, poor work or school issues, financial irresponsibility and frequent visits to medical professionals. The stress of your loved one’s disease can be exhausting mentally and physically.

A recent study states if a caregiver is under a great deal of stress, their loved one will have difficulty following a treatment plan. Here are some important tips to support your loved one who is affected with BP:

• Keeps tabs on your own mental health and take care of yourself. It is vital for caregivers to take care of themselves. To avoid burnout, set healthy boundaries. Take a timeout for yourself, even a vacation or two once a year. You are dealing with a great deal and you may need help processing your own feelings.

• Invite your friend or relative affected by BP out for positive distractions, such as walks and other activities. Sometimes just getting out of the house changes the perspective and mood of the BP patient.

• Find social support. Find sources of support such as a bipolar support group in your area.

• Research. Educate yourself about bipolar disorder. Also, learn about BP so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing. There are a variety of books, brochures and websites available on BP. One resource is www.familyaware.org.

• Listen to the BP patient’s feelings. Express understanding about their situation and offer emotional support. Also, provide understanding, patience and encouragement. Talk to your friend or relative and listen carefully. Remind them they will get better with time and treatment.

• Develop a crisis plan. Discuss with the BP patient about what you will do if they become suicidal. Do not ignore comments about your friend or relative inflicting self-harm. Report these comments to their therapist or doctor immediately. Also, determine what you will do if you need to hospitalize the person and put your plan in writing.




Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I am 65, he is 60. I stayed with him 20 years. Take it from me; an MSW degreed woman myself, it will NEVER get better. He was narcissistic the whole of our union; I rarely could get a word in edgewise; he blamed me for everything (even when he'd find the missing object, where he'd left it). never ever appologized, was a hoarder, I was never allowed to be right or have an opinion. I supported this man with every fiber of my body, literally, until one day I just couldn't do it anymore. I went to counseling, I became med compliant for depression (it is hopeless). I told him "meds or me", after he spent the mortgage gambling, and wrecked the car for the hundredth time. He chose crazy over me. It was a party for him; it was pure hell every single day for 20 years for me. DONT DO IT. Don't waste your life on any bipolar who is not med compliant. YOU will absolutely get nothing from the relationship and it will age you 200 years. There is no hope for a noncompliant bipolar period (and I am even a mental health professional myself which is how I met this very charismatic brilliant guy) . You deserve better! IT WILL NOT EVER GET BETTER EVER, EVER, EVER! All sorts of people will tell you it will and give you loving schmoozie stories. They are deluding themselves and you. I am telling you the truth. It won't ever get better! I am not bitter or hateful I'm just realistic and I'm done!

December 16, 2018 - 7:00pm
EmpowHER Guest

our daughter has bp and shes 15 in Pa. they won't trest her till 21 so what are we to do till then. She breaks things in the house, screams and yells for no reason and its diving up the house. Shes not happy till everyone is fighting with each other. What can we do' please give us some ideas ty

January 17, 2013 - 6:32pm
EmpowHER Guest
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June 6, 2013 - 4:22am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

She's been diagnosed and not treated? That makes no sense. There are treatment facilities in PA. Speak with her physician about referral to a psychiatrist for a med evaluation. The sooner she is treated the better the outcome if she adheres to the treatment regimen. Medication is the core treatment for this disorder optimally combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.

January 17, 2013 - 10:51pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.