About 2.3 million Americans — nearly 1% of the United States population — suffer from bipolar disorder, a condition characterized by very high periods of euphoria (manic periods) followed by periods of sadness, depression, and malaise. While bipolar disorder can be managed with medication and therapy, having the support of loved ones also plays a key role in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.
The problem is, providing loving, compassionate support to someone with bipolar disorder isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be fraught with challenges — both for you and for your loved one.
At Grassroots Healthcare, our team offers compassionate, effective therapies for people with bipolar disorder, and we can also help loved ones understand what they can do to support a loved one — and to avoid getting burned out.
If you have a loved one with bipolar disorder, here are six ways you can help them while caring for yourself, too.
Reading unbiased books, articles, and medical studies about bipolar disorder helps you understand what your loved one is going through, as well as what to expect. Developing a deep awareness of the disorder lays the foundation for providing critical, loving support.
Good listening skills are paramount in every relationship in your life — but being a good listener can be especially challenging in the setting of an emotional issue like bipolar disorder. The key: When your loved one wants to talk about their feelings, listen — really listen — to what they’re saying. Don’t assume you know all the answers, and remember, their feelings are valid, even if they don’t align with yours.
Many people with bipolar disorder wind up isolating themselves as a result of their mood issues. Not only can isolation make their symptoms worse, but it can also usher in feelings of depression and even suicide. Keep them involved in activities you both enjoy.
Bipolar disorder can take a toll on your loved one’s quality of life and their physical health, too. Encourage good nutrition, regular physical activity, and a sleep routine to help them optimize their wellness. Make sure they keep up on their medications and therapy, but avoid the urge to lecture. Instead, encourage healthy habits by adopting them yourself (for your own benefit, as well as theirs).
Even without bipolar disorder, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you don’t have a regular plan for your day. Keeping a daily schedule is a good way for your loved one to feel more in control of their life and their moods while avoiding unexpected (and sometimes unpleasant) surprises.
Caring for someone with bipolar disorder can be draining, and it can be difficult to really know how to strike the right balance — especially if your loved one is in a manic or depressive phase. Talking with a therapist helps you fine-tune your role, as well as learn some new tools and techniques that can help both of you stay healthy and happy. Support groups are another good way to share experiences and feel valued for your own efforts.
Bipolar disorder can be effectively treated, helping your loved one reclaim their lives and their quality of life. In the meantime, though, the journey to wellness can take a toll on loved ones, too. If you’d like to learn more about bipolar disorder and how you can help your loved one — without getting burned out — call our office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or book an appointment online today.