Bipolar Disorder Family Member

It may be shocking to have a friend or family member diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but it’s possible to provide support for bipolar patients. In cases of bipolar disorder, family support or a friend’s genuine encouragement can make a world of difference.

Seeking Treatment for a Loved One

The first step to managing bipolar disorder is getting a professional diagnosis and beginning a treatment plan. If you want to help a bipolar family member, you can do so by providing logistical support. For instance, contact your loved one’s mental health professional, make appointments for him, and make sure that he attends them.

Once the individuals is in therapy, support the treatment plan by making sure that the individual stays on his medication, makes all scheduled appointments and completes required tasks, such as maintaining a mood chart.

Providing Support for Bipolar Disorder

For a person with bipolar disorder, there’s nothing worse than feeling that she will be going through it alone. However, providing support for a bipolar family member can be quite trying. If you’re going to provide support for bipolar disorder, read up on the condition. The more you understand what your loved one is experiencing, the more you’ll be able to help her.

Providing support can be difficult during a manic phase, as the individual may be difficult to keep up with. During a depressive phase, it may be hard to reach her. If you keep at it, however, your determination will likely pay off. Once your loved one realizes your unwavering dedication, she may become receptive to your support. Be patient.

When providing support for bipolar family members and friends, remember that they can’t control their moods. Just like it isn’t realistic for a diabetic to try to make more insulin in their bodies, bipolar individuals can’t end an episode by simply “trying harder” or “snapping out of it.” Be sensitive, understand the nature of the disease, and let your friend or family member know that you’re there when she needs you.

Take Care of Yourself

Providing support for a bipolar family member can be a difficult–and sometimes thankless–task. If you aren’t a mental health professional, leave their work to them. You can’t cure your bipolar family member or friend on your own.

In the midst of your devoted efforts, you may inadvertently neglect your own needs. Know your limitations and leave time for yourself every day. If you get burnt out from helping your bipolar family member or friend, you won’t be able to provide the support that he truly needs.

Resources

Bipolar Focus. (n.d.). Bipolar disorder coping resources for family members. Retrieved August 12, 2010, from http://www.pendulum.org/famcoping.htm.

Patient Health International. (2004). Dealing with family tensions caused by bipolar disorder. Retrieved August 12, 2010, from http://www.patienthealthinternational.com/bipolar-disorder/feature-articles/.

Robert, M. (2007). Beating the marriage odds. Retrieved August 11, 2010, from http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm