Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition. A person may feel depressed, sad, and have extreme mood swings. Caring for someone with bipolar disorder may be challenging, and let us look at ways to manage bipolar disorder.

Caring for your loved ones with any injury or illness is a difficult task. Caring for someone with bipolar disorder is extremely challenging. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition. A person suffering from this may feel sad, depressed, and have extreme mood swings. 

Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Around 2.8% of the population in the US has bipolar disorder. People can experience bipolar disorder at any age, and it usually begins in the late teens or adulthood. Every one of us may experience mood swings at times. But people who have bipolar disorder may experience extreme mood swings. It may affect their ability to think properly, thus affecting their daily routine.

However, this is a lifelong condition, and there is no cure for it. But with proper treatment and medication, you can manage the symptoms and mood swings. Let us look at the ways to care for someone with bipolar disorder in which we will cover:

  • Mood Episodes
  • Types and causes of bipolar disorder.
  • Ways to help your loved ones with bipolar disorder.
  • How can this be treated?

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness affecting a person’s daily work. There will be a change in their thinking ability, behavior, and feelings. 

We all experience some challenges in life, but people with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings and depression. They may even find it difficult to decide to need any help and support.

Mood Episodes

There are different mood episodes a person experiences in their life, including mania, depression, hypomania, or mixed state. Let us know about these mood episodes in detail.

Depressive Episode

This is when your loved ones or family members are depressed and are not interested in doing anything they enjoy doing. This can go for like two weeks. A person may have the following changes:

  • Feeling tired all the time.
  • Sleep issues. They may sleep for a short time or sleep too much.
  • They may lose concentration and find it hard to remember things.
  • They may have thought about suicides or deaths.
  • Loss of appetite – they may eat too little or too much. There may be a change in their weight.
  • Less movement or feeling of restlessness.

Manic

This is when your family member is overexcited or extremely happy or elevated for almost a week. There may be a change in their character like:

  • Talking too much than usual.
  • Getting distracted very easily.
  • Overconfidence and self-esteem.
  • Requiring short sleep duration.
  • Getting too much involved in gambling, shopping, or driving.

Hypomanic

This is when there is a change in a person’s mood and is similar to mania but not extreme and does not require hospitalization. The changes may be there for just three to four days. People may be doing their regular work but may get irritated or argue more than usual.

Mixed Episode

This is when a person experiences a mix of mania and depression episodes. The mix of both the episodes can be there simultaneously for a week. The person needs to be hospitalized in this case to get the proper treatment on time.

Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Types Of Bipolar Disorder

There are different types of bipolar disorder. This depends on the mood episodes a person experiences. Certain symptoms lead to unpredictable changes in the mood and behavior of a person and thus resulting in a lot of difficulty in life.

#1 Bipolar I

In this, a person experiences a manic or mixed episode, along with a depressive episode. They will experience both mania and depression. To help a person diagnosed with this type of disorder, he must experience a manic episode for seven days. If it’s severe, then hospitalization is required.

#2 Bipolar II

A person experiences at least one depressive and one hypomanic episode in this. They will not experience a manic episode.

#3 Cyclothymic

This is when a person experiences hypomania and mild depression episodes for at least two years. But they may not experience full mania or dull depressive episodes. A person may have unstable mood swings. People with this type of disorder may have a normal mood, but it lasts not more than eight weeks.

#4 Bipolar Disorder, not specified otherwise

A person may not experience bipolar I, II, or cyclothymia. Or there will be very fast changes in mood between manic and depressive states. It may last for a few days, but there is no specified period. A proper diagnosis is required if a person experiences frequent hypomanic episodes without depression.

Causes Of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder may be due to certain factors. It includes:

  • Genetics. The chance of getting bipolar disorder increases if a child’s parents or family members suffer from a similar disorder. But getting this disorder is not necessary. A child from the same family may not develop bipolar disorder even if other people suffer from this.
  • Brain. Many times, your brain structure affects the risk of bipolar disorder. Certain irregularities in brain structure or function may increase the risk of this disorder. 
  • Environmental Factors. A person may develop bipolar disorder due to some external factors. This includes stress, illness, or trauma. A stressful event like financial issues, the death of a family member, or some illness may result in depressive or manic episodes.

Ways To Help Your Loved Ones With Bipolar Disorder

Sometimes caring for your loved ones with bipolar disorder is difficult. But there are different ways to manage and cope with it effectively. Just being there and supporting your loved ones will help make a huge difference in their lives. Let us look at the ways to help your loved ones with bipolar disorder.

Become Educated

The first thing you need to do is know about bipolar disorder. The more you know about it, the better you will help your loved ones. Understand the symptoms and episodes of the disorder. It will help you cope with severe mood swings.

Listen

You don’t have to be ready with all the answers or give advice to your loved ones. The best thing you can do is listen to your loved ones and understand the difficulties they are dealing with. 

Listening to and understanding a person with bipolar disorder will help them be more comfortable with the disorder. Always pay attention to whatever your loved ones are speaking and stay calm. Listen, but don’t start arguing with them. 

Be Supportive

People with bipolar disorder may have negative feelings, and they may feel that everyone is against them. As a caregiver, ensure your loved ones know that you are with them, and this will make them feel positive and stable. By just letting them know they have your back will be very beneficial.

Your loved ones with bipolar disorder may feel powerless or worthless. Make sure you tell them their positive qualities and help them recover from the disorder with ease.

Be Understanding

It is difficult to understand your loved ones with bipolar disorder, and you may not know what they are feeling and experiencing. 

People with bipolar disorder will not even know why they have such mood swings. You need to try understanding your loved ones and be there with them.

Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Help Them With A Treatment

A person with bipolar disorder will require therapy sessions and treatment. When looking for the right treatment for the disorder, a person may have to try different therapies and treatments and look for what suits them.

It is important to find well-qualified doctors for the treatment. Help your loved ones find a good doctor nearby and schedule appointments as a caregiver. Make sure to keep track of symptoms and medications. 

Sometimes the treatment looks a bit complicated and makes people scared. You can offer support and talk to them, which will help reduce the stress and anxiety that they may feel.

Social Support Group

People with bipolar disorder often feel lonely and isolated. You have always seen your loved ones healthy and active, and it isn’t easy to see them suffer and deteriorate. 

Your friends or relatives may not understand this disorder and find it difficult to go out with them. You can look for a social group that supports people with bipolar disorder in the nearby area.

Develop A Plan

It is difficult to find if a person has bipolar disorder. But you need to have a plan if you see your loved ones with severe mood swings. Talk with your family members and plan what to do if this disorder becomes manic or depressed. He may get out of control due to mood swings.

You need to plan to help a person with extreme mood swings and depressed episodes. Make plans with your loved ones when they are in a good mood and stable. Note the plan in a copy, so it is easy to refer to.

Care For Yourself Too

When you care for a person with bipolar disorder, you may forget to care for yourself. Before helping your loved ones, make sure you can manage time and have that emotional capacity to cope with the person.

You can set boundaries for how much you can help your loved ones with bipolar disorder. Don’t overexert yourself. Make sure you get proper sleep, rest and are eating healthily. Also, while taking care of a person, you may get depressed at times. Just don’t be afraid to get medical help for yourself.

Be Patient

Bipolar disorder is a life-long condition. The symptoms and mood episodes will come and go throughout. Sometimes the symptoms are unpredictable, and they may have extreme mood swings all of a sudden. You need to be patient in such situations and help your loved ones deal with them.

Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

How Can This Be treated?

Many treatments help reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder. It includes counseling, medications, certain therapies, and lifestyle changes. The main goal is to help your loved ones be active and do their daily work effectively.

Medications

It is essential to take drug treatments to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Most of the doctors recommend 

Antidepressant. These medications help treat depressive episodes, and it helps your loved ones deal with severe anxiety disorder. A doctor usually prescribes antidepressants with some mood stabilizers to reduce the risk of hypomanic or mixed episodes.

Moodstabilizers. Doctors usually prescribe this medication as it helps a person manage mood swings. Before prescribing such medications, a blood test may be required, and this is done to get the right treatment.

Anti-Psychotics. These medications help treat symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations, which can be associated with different mood episodes. 

Every person will respond to the treatment and medications differently, even if they suffer from the same disorder and symptoms. It is advisable to consult your doctor before starting with any medications. Every drug has some side effects and affects every person differently. It is better to tell your doctor about other medications you may have, and it will help reduce any adverse side effects and help in proper treatment.

Psychotherapy

Different psychotherapy approaches help manage bipolar disorder. 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy helps a person manage stress. This Therapy helps a person change their thinking and behavior patterns. A person can identify the symptoms and take prompt steps to reduce the risk of extreme mood swings.

Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal Psychotherapy offers partial relief. It is useful in mood disorders and the depressive state of a person. It helps improve the relationship of a person with their loved ones.

Interpersonal And Social Rhythm Therapy 

Interpersonal Therapy can help in managing the daily habits of a person. This includes improving sleep patterns, eating habits, and exercising, and this will result in fewer mood swings and help reduce the symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

Certain changes in lifestyle help reduce the symptoms and cope with the mood swings. This can include:

Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Takeaway

A bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition and makes a person’s life difficult. A person will experience depression, extreme mood swings, and anxiety. A proper treatment will help reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life. 

As a caregiver, it is your responsibility to understand your loved ones with bipolar disorder and help them deal with the difficulties they are facing. Making some effort and helping your loved ones deal with the disorder will make a huge difference in their lives, and it will help deal with the situations positively.