Bipolar Relationships: What To Expect
Ups and downs are natural in any romantic relationship, but when your partner has bipolar disorder it can feel like youre on an emotional rollercoaster. Not knowing what to expect each day is stressful and tiring. Over time, it wears on the relationship.
Understanding why your partner acts out sometimes or becomes withdrawn is the first supportive step you can take in strengthening your relationship. Learn exactly what a bipolar diagnosis means, how it could affect your partners behavior and what you can do to foster a healthy, stable relationship.
Get Involved With Treatment
Ask if you can be involved with your partners treatment, which may include occasionally going to the psychiatrist together. Being a part of your partners treatment has multiple benefits, including:
- Gaining a better understanding of the illness.
- Providing additional insight for the psychiatrist.
- Learning to spot signs of impending episodes.
- Alerting the psychiatrist about mood changes.
Even if your partner hasnt signed off on you exchanging information with their psychiatrist, you can still report worrisome signs . This gives the doctor a chance to make quick medication changes that may help your partner avoid being hospitalized.
Who Does Bipolar Disorder Affect
Bipolar disorder can affect anyone. The average age of onset is 25 years, but, more rarely, it can start as early as early childhood or as late as in your 40s or 50s.
Although bipolar disorder affects people assigned female at birth and people assigned male at birth in equal numbers, the condition tends to affect them differently.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may switch moods more quickly. When people with bipolar disorder experience four or more manic or depressive episodes in a year, this is called rapid cycling. Varying levels of sex hormones and thyroid hormones, together with the tendency for people AFAB to be prescribed antidepressants, may contribute to the more rapid cycling in this population.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may also experience more periods of depression than people AMAB.
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What Is The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder And Manic Depression
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
It’s also been argued that the older term carries a stigma in popular culture and that both “manic” and “depression” are now used to describe everyday feelings and emotions. As a result, bipolar disorder is now the preferred term and the one that healthcare professionals use in diagnosis.
The Relationship Between Bipolar Disorder And Sex Drive
During manic episodes, people with bipolar disorder may engage in certain impulsive behaviors. For some people, this kind of behavior can involve a preoccupation with sex and a heightened sex drive, leading to unprotected sex or risky sexual situations with potentially damaging consequences, both physical and emotional. Hypersexuality, or an increased interest in sex, is known to be a symptom of bipolar disorder, though the research on the subject is limited.
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Why Isnt It Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder involves changes in mood and energy levels called mood episodes. These include mania, hypomania, and depression.
Symptoms of psychosis arent a diagnostic criterion for bipolar disorder, but people with bipolar disorder with psychotic features may experience hallucinations and delusions during episodes of depression or mania.
Mania is an elevated mood that may feature irritability, excessive energy, impulsive behavior, and in some cases, symptoms of psychosis.
Schizoaffective disorder bipolar type isnt the same as bipolar disorder because, in the latter, psychosis isnt a requirement for diagnosis. Because when and if psychosis happens, it always occurs at the same time as the mood symptoms.
Schizoaffective disorder falls under the schizophrenia spectrum and psychotic disorders category. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder.
What You Can Do: Daily Habits Make A Difference
These healthy lifestyle habits, along with professional treatment, can help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder:
Treatment Works. SAMHSA Can Help You Find It.
Effective treatments for bipolar disorder are available in your area. The earlier that you begin treatment, the greater likelihood of a better outcome. For confidential and anonymous help finding a specialty program near you, visit SAMHSAs Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator.
If you, or someone you know, need help to stop using substances whether the problem is methamphetamine, alcohol or another drug call SAMHSAs National Helpline at or TTY: , or text your zip code to 435748 , or use the SAMHSAs Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.
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Tips For Living With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that doesnt go away on its own. While it can feel overwhelming and isolating at first, an early, accurate diagnosis is the first step toward getting better. Proper treatment, along with support and self-care, helps people with bipolar disorder live healthy, fulfilling lives.
Antidepressants And Mood Switching
There is widespread concern that antidepressant treatment for bipolar depression risks switching into potentially dangerous agitation or mania, especially in BD-I . Such risk is more associated with the long-term BD course-pattern of depression followed by mania before a stable interval than the opposite . However, it is difficult to distinguish spontaneous from antidepressant-associated switching in BD, mean rates of which are similar . Though it is plausible to expect mood-stabilizing and antipsychotic drugs to prevent mood-switching with antidepressants, required randomized comparisons are lacking . Trials of antidepressants have found little difference in risk of new mania between antidepressants and placebo, with or without a mood-stabilizer included, although exposure times were short . However, one study found that switching in BD was 2.8-times greater within 9 months after adding an antidepressant, but not if a mood-stabilizer also was used , and switching risk was increased in the rare long-term trials with an antidepressant included in treatment .
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Bipolar Disorder
Researchers aren’t sure what exactly causes bipolar disorder, but there appears to be an association between the condition and genetics, brain structure, and brain function.
Nature GeneticsClinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health
Studies using brain-imaging tools, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography , have attempted to reveal how the brains of people with bipolar disorder differ from the brains of healthy people or those with other mental disorders.
Dialogues of Clinical NeuroscienceJournal of Affective Disorders
People with a history of other mental health disorders including anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder appear to be at an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder, though these links are still being studied.
A number of symptoms or situations that result from bipolar disorder can also be triggers for the disorder. Changes in sleep patterns, blowout arguments with coworkers or loved ones, high stress or traumatic events, alcohol abuse, certain medication interactions, shifts in season, and the hormonal changes of pregnancy can all put you at a greater risk of a manic or depressive episode.
Recognize And Prevent Depression
The manic and depressive phases of bipolar disorder donât necessarily follow a pattern. You can have a few bouts of depression before you have a manic phase.
But over time, youâll notice things that cause changes in your mood and warning signs that depression could be setting in. When you catch those symptoms early, you can often avoid major depression.
Keep a mood chart to track how you feel, your treatments, sleep, and other activities. Take note of times when you feel stressed — maybe when youâre with certain people or in a specific place. The first signs of depression could be that you feel tired and canât sleep. Short periods of depression can be a sign that a severe phase is coming.
The people around you can help you recognize patterns, too. Ask your family and mental health professional to watch for changes in your behavior that signal an oncoming issue. They may be able to notice things that you donât.
Even when you feel great, make sure to keep up with your treatment — it can prevent a relapse of depression. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and try new ways to ease stress and manage your moods: Join a support group, take up a hobby, or practice relaxation methods like meditation, yoga, or massage.
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How Do Doctors Diagnose Bipolar Disorder
Theres no blood test or medical test for bipolar disorder. To diagnose bipolar, a mental health doctor meets with you. They ask questions about your moods, thoughts, feelings, and health. They ask about how youre doing in your life and problems youre having. They listen and talk with you, and with your parent. They also check for other conditions that can cause mood symptoms. This can take a few visits.
If a doctor finds that you have bipolar, they will talk more about it with you. They will explain the treatment plan that can help you.
Know Your Triggers And Early Warning Signs
Its important to recognize the warning signs of an oncoming manic or depressive episode. Make a list of early symptoms that preceded your previous mood episodes. Also try to identify the triggers, or outside influences, that have led to mania or depression in the past. Common triggers include:
Knowing your early warning signs and triggers wont do you much good if you arent keeping close tabs on how youre feeling. By checking in with yourself through regular mood monitoring, you can be sure that red flags dont get lost in the shuffle of your busy, daily life.
Keeping a mood chart is one way to monitor your symptoms and moods. A mood chart is a daily log of your emotional state and other symptoms youre having. It can also include information such as how many hours of sleep youre getting, your weight, medications youre taking, and any alcohol or drug use. You can use your mood chart to spot patterns and indicators of trouble ahead.
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Is It Possible To Have Both Bipolar And Major Depressive Disorder
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What Is The Treatment For Bipolar
Treatment for bipolar includes medicines and talk therapy. Medicine can help keep moods stable. But by itself, medicine isnt enough. A person with bipolar needs talk therapy, too.
Each persons treatment is tailored to what they need. A type of talk therapy called DBT helps most people. In this therapy, people can learn skills to manage moods. For example, they can learn to:
- become more mindful of their emotions and thoughts
- manage their emotions
- cope with strong emotions in healthy ways
- set up and follow routines that help keep moods stable
- be patient and kind to themselves
- care for themselves in positive ways
- get along better with others
With time and practice, these skills can become part of a persons daily life.
Therapy also includes making goals and working out ways to move toward them. In therapy, people track their progress. Many find strengths they didnt know they had.
When possible, parents take part in treatment. This helps them understand bipolar moods and how to best respond. It can help families have less conflict, relate better, and feel closer.
What Have You Learned As A Result Of Your Experiences
Living with bipolar, often for years, teaches you a lot about yourself, mental health services, medicationand sadly, often about stigma, shame, and discrimination.
Id say for me, it was a key driver for learning about mebut also a red herring as I feel I vested too much of my own identity in clinging to the life-raft of the diagnosis as an explanation of my life in my early 20sagain though, there is a range of perspectives.
Recovery is possible despite what others may tell you or what you believe. I never thought I could be a worthwhile human being and have something meaningful to offer. That’s just illness speak and the effects of learned stigma. It doesn’t need to be that way.
I have learnt that I am more resilient than I could have ever imagined. I have discovered that there is more to life than getting a degree or a good job. I have learnt that I have amazing friends who never stopped believing in me, even when I couldn’t believe in myself.
I feel like I’m riding a constant rollercoaster of moods. There are people who are too scared to come to the theme park, those that will hop on rides with you, and those that watch sensibly in awe and sickness from a distance minding your bags. All of those people have a valid and useful part to play in your life.
Reducing The Risk Of Misdiagnosis
Clinicians can take several steps to ensure they are making an accurate diagnosis. The risk of misdiagnosis is still present, but it can be reduced. If you are working with a doctor or mental health professional, there are a few approaches to your assessment they may use to help them provide the most accurate diagnosis possible.
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What Impact Has Bipolar Had On Your Life
For me, this is important because my experience is very unusual. I took antidepressants in my last year of school, which, when I arrived at University and took the control of living away from home, helped to induce hypomania.
I was already aware of my mood swings and studying biomedical sciences. I went to the doctor and said I thought I had bipolar, and he agreed. I met a superb psychiatrist via student health. There were a few unusual people in my extended Irish family, and at least two with probable bipolar a working diagnosis was quick.
Mood swings coloured my school and university experiences. I cycled rapidly between deep depression and hypomania. I ate too much and drank too much, partly because of the medication and partly because of anxiety, and became very obese.
I had some embarrassing moments of drunkenness, self-harm, obnoxiousness, and accrued debt. By the time I felt properly back on an even keel seven years later, I had accrued nearly £50,000 of unsecured debt, which had taken a decade to pay back.
I dont have a house or a postgraduate degree, which Id have liked and which would help now. But. I had my life.
Thanks to my psychiatrist, brilliant GP, online peer support, and carefully nurtured insight, I avoided the hospital. And because I found a sense of purpose through volunteering.
My parents were unquestioningly supportive financially, emotionally and practically. They resolved to push me through my degree at whatever cost. I am lucky they were able to.
Autism Adhd And Bipolar Disorder
While it might be unlikely to have more than two conditions at one time, it is possible.
For a person who is navigating multiple types of neurodivergence, the most important thing is to recognize and understand the correct diagnoses, Myszak says. If one condition is causing the greatest amount of difficulty, that should be addressed first.
A 2021 review suggested that the overlap of bipolar disorder and ADHD isnt unlikely, with an estimated 1 in 6 adults with bipolar disorder also having ADHD.
Jane says, A common trigger for a manic episode is disrupted sleep, and a part of ADHD is hyperfocusing. If Im hyperfocusing on something and I forget to sleep, Ill often end up triggering a manic episode. So, its really important to be aware of the intersections and to have strategies to manage them in place.
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Causes Of Bipolar Disorder
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is still unknown, however, there are risk factors that are known to make the development of bipolar disorder more likely.
A risk factor is something that increases the likelihood of developing a condition. First, bipolar disorder is known to have a strong genetic link, meaning if you have a history of bipolar in your family, you are at a higher risk for developing the disorder.
Childhood trauma can increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder to some degree. Stressful life events, like having a child or losing a parent, may be a trigger for a bipolar episode. Finally, bipolar disorder often co-occurs with substance use disorders.
Lithium Treatment And Suicide
An association of reduced risk of suicides and attempts during long-term treatment with lithium in BD is supported consistently by most , but not all studies . At least 10 placebo-controlled, randomized trials not specifically designed with suicide risk as the primary outcome measure, but involving more than 110,000 person-years of risk, found five- to sixfold reductions in suicidal acts . Based on such studies, several expert reports recommend long-term lithium treatment to limit risk of suicidal behavior in BD patients .
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Can Depression Turn Into Bipolar Disorder
While an episode of clinical depression can be a feature of bipolar disorder or unipolar depression , it is not always easy to predict if the episode indicates the presence of bipolar disorder. Ongoing treatment and re-assessment is necessary before a determination can be made.
It can be difficult to cope with a new or unexpected diagnosis, but having an accurate diagnosis is necessary to ensure the condition is treated properly.