If one of your friends or family members has bipolar disorder, you may feel confused, angry or even guilty at times. Some people don’t know how to handle the extreme mood swings of bipolar disorder, while others become angry at their loved ones for their reckless behavior.
Whether your loved one has been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder or has been living with bipolar disorder for years, there are certain things you can do to help him and you cope with his condition.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
One of the most important things you can do for your loved one is to learn as much as possible about his condition. Knowing the symptoms, causes and triggers for bipolar disorder can help you better understand and deal with your loved one’s behavior.
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes a person to experience unusual and sometimes dramatic mood swings. A person suffering from bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, may also experience sudden changes in energy levels and changes in the ability to function normally.
People who have bipolar disorder experience episodes of elevated mood (mania) followed by periods of depression. During mania, a person experiences:
- increased creativity
- increased energy levels
- reckless behavior.
In addition, people experiencing episodes of mania often sleep very little and become very talkative.
When people enter the depressive state, they experience symptoms similar to those of extreme depression, including:
- decreased energy levels
- feelings of hopelessness
- increased sleep
- suicidal thoughts.
If you want to know more about bipolar disorder, talk to your loved one’s physician. He should be able to provide you with information on the subject.
Bipolar Disorder Support Groups
After learning about your loved one’s condition, you might find it beneficial to join a bipolar disorder support group. Support groups in your area can put you face-to-face with others who have similar questions and concerns about bipolar disorder. In addition, these groups provide you with the opportunity to vent your frustrations and concerns to caring individuals.
If there isn’t a bipolar disorder support group in your town, you can always join an online support group. There are hundreds of bipolar support groups on the Web. To find the one that best fits your needs, simply type “bipolar support groups” into your favorite search engine and click on some of the retrieved links.
Helping Your Loved One Stay Healthy
As a friend or family member, you can take an active role in your loved one’s bipolar treatment. For example, you can help your loved one remember to take his medication on a daily basis and on a regular schedule. If he is reluctant to take his medication, remind him how important his medication is to his health.
Also, you can spot any side effects that your loved one might be experiencing from his medications. You can also note if his symptoms are getting worse or if his manic/depressive episodes are becoming more severe or more frequent. Be sure to report any changes in behavior to your loved one’s doctor.
Bipolar Focus (n.d.). Bipolar Disorder Coping Resources for Family Members. Retrieved July 18, 2007, from the Bipolar Focus Web site: http://www.moodswing.org/famcoping.htm.
Mayo Clinic Staff (2006). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved July 18, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/DS00356/DSECTION=1.