Your loved one can certainly manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder with proper treatment. Although it isn’t easy to watch a loved one struggle with a mental illness, it is still challenging. To help ease the burden, you can do a few things.
Bipolar disorder can present several challenges if you have a loved one with this condition. Significant changes in mood and difficult behaviors can significantly affect the individual’s life and yours as a loved one who wants to help.
You should remember that even though bipolar disorder can strain your relationship, you are a source of support and love to that person. In addition to helping someone with bipolar disorder, there are various things you can do for yourself.
Get to Know Bipolar Disorder
Educate yourself about bipolar disorder as one of the first steps you need to take. Understanding the condition, including its causes and symptoms, will help you recognize patterns and handle any resulting behaviors.
Bipolar Disorder Basics
The symptoms of bipolar disorder can cause extreme mood swings, behavioral changes, and concentration problems.
An episode of mania and depression may follow each other during these episodes. Mania may be followed by periods of tremendous happiness and energy (mania).
People can find it challenging to carry out their normal daily activities due to these changes.
Each type of bipolar disorder has a different pattern of symptoms. There are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and also cyclothymic disorder.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) has reported that around 2.8% of adults in the U.S. experience bipolar disorder.
Reading reputable sources’ books, websites, and articles about the bipolar disorder will give you an overview of your loved one’s condition.
Listen to Your Loved One
Listening to a loved one with bipolar disorder is another way you can provide support. It is necessary for your loved ones to feel they can discuss their challenges with you. As we attempt to understand how your loved one feels doesn’t require any specific answers from you-just a willingness to listen openly.
Never forget that your words and your attitude are equally important while you listen. You should avoid getting angry or blaming them even if you do not fully understand what they are experiencing.
Even if you are frustrated by the individual’s behavior, try not to take it personally. Your loved one may act in ways that are unexpected or even hurtful during a manic or depressive episode. There may be irritability, aggressiveness, moodiness, hostility, or recklessness.
Keep in mind that these actions are symptoms of the condition, not your fault. Supporting your loved one’s ability to cope with and successfully manage their symptoms can play a significant role in shaping how they feel about their ability to cope.
The stigma associated with mental health can be shaming, isolating, and harmful to treatment. The best approach to concentrate on staying positive and helping your loved one feel empowered.
Participating in the treatment of your loved one may be beneficial, but keep in mind that you don’t have to fix it.
Typically, bipolar disorder is treated by a combination of therapy and medication. Due to the nature of the condition, the course of treatment can sometimes be unpredictable. It might be more difficult for your loved one to adhere to therapy during mood swings, so being there for them during those times is especially important.
Here are some ways to support the treatment of bipolar disorder among your loved ones.
Helping Them Find Treatment
Don’t be pushy, but be supportive. Many reasons exist for a person to delay seeking treatment. Ensure your attitude toward seeking help is encouraging and positive.
Provide transportation to appointments as a means of helping them. Additionally, you might be able to point them towards a physician or therapist with experience treating bipolar disorder.
The importance of spending time together
Be sure to reach out to your loved one if you notice that they are experiencing depression symptoms. You can always suggest spending time with them or going out for an activity together. People who are depressed often have trouble motivating themselves or finding energy, making it difficult to do anything.
When getting out of the house is too hard, try something simple like watching a movie or sharing a meal at home.
Encouraging Medication Adherence
Bipolar disorder is typically treated with medications that regulate mood. Bipolar disorder is commonly treated with lithium, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, and atypical antipsychotics.
There are countless reasons why individuals stop taking their medications, such as avoiding side effects or believing that they are not really in need.
Your positive attitude can help you to cope with your loved one’s medication. It is essential to remind them of its importance and importance. Additionally, you might suggest things they can do if they have trouble remembering to take their bipolar medication.
When your loved one is experiencing unwanted side effects, urge them to talk to their doctor before changing their dosage or stopping the medication altogether – which could actually be very dangerous.
Their doctor could be in the process of adjusting their meds, ready to try a different med or suggest other strategies for dealing with unpleasant side effects.
Pay Attention to Symptoms
If you notice that your loved one’s symptoms are becoming more severe, talk to them about what might help. When experiencing an episode of mania or depression, you might need to lend them a helping hand.
It is also a good idea to hang on to those things that you don’t want them to have access to while going through manic episodes to help them cope with their symptoms.
Excessive impulsivity is another bipolar symptom. Consequently, they may make poor financial decisions and purchase items they later regret. When your loved one exhibits such symptoms, offer to secure their financial health by managing their household finances and credit cards.
It’s critical to establish limits on what you are willing and able to accomplish. There may be times when your personal well-being is at risk, so you must know when to draw a distinction between being loving and supportive.
Here are some suggestions for establishing healthy boundaries:
- Recognize that you need time and opportunity to pursue your goals and interests as well.
- Limit unacceptable behaviors. Be specific about what troubles you, but instead of blaming your loved one, focus on how it makes you feel.
- Make sure your boundaries are enforced and that consequences are imposed on people who overstep them. However, boundaries must not be viewed as punishments.
- Stay healthy by protecting yourself. You have every right to protect your emotional and physical well-being. You don’t have to let your loved one’s condition rule your life to be supportive.
Remember, it is most likely a sign of needing boundaries when you feel overwhelmed, taken advantage of, controlled, angry, hurt, or frustrated.
Protect Your Relationship
Until some powerful steps are taken to address the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it can affect a person’s relationships. The person might experience hostility, irritability, and risk-taking actions that can worsen their relationship difficulties without treatment.
Take proactive measures, and you’ll be better off. Learn about the condition, identify what triggers manic or depressive episodes, support your loved one’s treatment, and practice self-care.
Take Care of Yourself
As important as it is to offer support to your loved one with bipolar disorder, it’s equally important that you take care of your own health and well-being.
Remember: if you are emotionally and physically exhausted, you won’t provide much assistance. Consider doing the following:
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Be careful not to allow your loved one’s illness to consume your life. Although it’s okay to do what you can, it’s also important not to ignore your own life, goals, and mental health. You should maintain an independent and separate identity-and your loved one should do the same.
- Find people who will support you. Friends and family members, particularly those who have taken on the role of caregiver, need people to turn to as well. Maintain good relationships with people in your life, including your family, friends, and co-workers. When you need assistance, don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor or therapist.
- Don’t overexert yourself. You don’t have to force your loved one to follow their treatment plan. It is impossible for anyone who has bipolar disorder to simply “get better.” Your goal, as a loved one, should be to provide support. An unhealthy codependent relationship can develop when you try to be responsible for the other person or “fix” them.
- Self-monitoring. Ask questions like “Did you take your meds?” if you suspect that your loved one is having mood issues for other reasons than his bipolar disorder.
- Keep your stress under control. Your stress levels may increase when your loved one is experiencing episodes of mania or depression when they have bipolar disorder. If you are experiencing stress, strategies such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation may help you cope.
- Think about therapy. CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) is often used to treat bipolar disorder, but family therapy can also benefit families affected by the disease. As part of family therapy, loved ones can learn more about the condition and explore coping strategies that can be helpful.
A loved one with bipolar disorder can make you feel far from ordinary. You might feel worried, upset, and even guilty. Keep in mind that bipolar disorder is a brain disorder, and nothing you did contribute to your loved one’s illness.
Offer your support, but also remember to take care of yourself, even if that means setting some boundaries with your loved one. While finding a way to cope with such a lifelong condition may be difficult, your loved one and you must work together to overcome it.