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Understanding why your partner acts out sometimes or becomes withdrawn is the first supportive step you can take in strengthening your relationship.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.
You Have Bouts Of Over
This is mania. Itâs a high that goes way beyond âhappyâ or âjoyful.â Some people have it often, others hardly ever.
Hypomania is a milder form of this feeling. It doesnât turn into psychosis like mania can, but itâs part of a bipolar diagnosis. You might feel great and get a lot done, but those around you might see changes in your mood and activity levels.
To get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, you must have had at least one manic or hypomanic experience.
Signs of manic behavior include:
- Your mood isnât comfortable. It might feel good at first, especially after depression. But it quickly becomes erratic and out of control.
- Your judgment swerves way off. You take extreme risks. You make bad decisions with no thought for what might happen. For instance, you might spend money recklessly or have risky sex.
- You get bad-tempered and angry.
- You feel strung-out or edgy.
- You find it hard to sleep.
- You feel like your mind is a freeway. You might talk super-fast and hop subjects, or think you can do too many things at once.
Some episodes can mix mania and depression. For example, you might feel hyper-energetic and full of despair at the same time.
Types Of Bipolar Disorders
Bipolar disorder, as discussed in this quiz, is often characterized by extreme moods, they will often come in waves or episodes, the “high” episodes are known as manic episodes, and the “low” episodes are called depressive episodes. Although this quiz is testing for general symptoms of bipolar disorder, there are two types of bipolar disorder, bipolar disorder 1 and bipolar disorder 2.
Bipolar disorder 1 is characterized by at least one manic episode, but no occurrence of a major depressive episode is required for diagnosis with type 1 bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder 1 is often more extreme in the manic episode that it may require hospitalization for full treatment.
Bipolar disorder 2, on the other hand, is characterized by a major depressive episode that lasts at least two weeks and at least one manic episode. However, manic episodes with bipolar disorder are often not as severe as they are with bipolar 1, they are sometimes referred to as hypomanic episodes, and do not usually result in hospitalization.
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Living With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes. A person with bipolar disorder may be unaware they’re in the manic phase.
After the episode is over, they may be shocked at their behaviour. But at the time, they may believe other people are being negative or unhelpful.
Some people with bipolar disorder have more frequent and severe episodes than others.
The extreme nature of the condition means staying in a job may be difficult and relationships may become strained. There’s also an increased risk of suicide.
During episodes of mania and depression, someone with bipolar disorder may experience strange sensations, such as seeing, hearing or smelling things that are not there .
They may also believe things that seem irrational to other people . These types of symptoms are known as psychosis or a psychotic episode.
Manic Symptoms In Children
Symptoms of mania in children can include:
- acting very silly and feeling overly happy
- talking fast and rapidly changing subjects
- having trouble focusing or concentrating
- doing risky things or experimenting with risky behaviors
- having a very short temper that leads quickly to outbursts of anger
- having trouble sleeping and not feeling tired after sleep loss
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Does Bipolar Disorder Have A Genetic Component
A review published in 2014 indicates that genetics could be a major factor for the evolution of bipolar disorder specifically within immediate family members. When youre a sibling or parent suffering from the condition for example you are at a higher chance of developing it is around 10 times more likely as per an small study from 2016.
But being able to have an ancestral history of bipolar disorder does not guarantee that youll continue to develop it. In fact, there is a chance to develop bipolar disorder despite having no known family history.
Recognizing Bipolar Disorder In Yourself Or Others
Just like each person looks different, the condition can vary from person to person.
It is important to understand how bipolar disorder tends to present. Its not like a light switch of emotions, as many believe it to be. Symptoms of mania or depression may appear over the span of days, weeks, or even longer.
Some episodes may last for a day or two while others may last for a week or longer.
To understand BD, its important to understand the signs of manic and depressive episodes.
Some signs that someone is experiencing a manic episode include:
- Feeling elated, high, or up
- Feeling extremely irritable
- A decreased need for sleep, sometimes going several days without sleep at all without feeling tired
- Changes in appetite
- Bouncing quickly between thoughts
- Risky behavior and poor judgment, such as spending large amounts of money, drinking excessively, or risky sexual behavior
- Grandiose ideas where the person feels exceptionally talented, important, or powerful
Since a manic episode can involve feelings of euphoria, its not unusual for people experiencing mania to want the feeling to last forever. This also explains why many who are experiencing episodes of mania may not ask for help. However, the feeling of mania will end.
Some people with BD will also experience one or more depressive episodes. They may have symptoms similar to major depressive disorder . Some of the most common symptoms include:
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What Are The Signs Of Bipolar Disorder
Suspecting that you or a loved one has bipolar disorder can be scary and upsetting. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, highly effective treatment that allows individuals to manage symptoms to live fulfilling lives is available. It is essential to understand that the manic and depressive episodes that characterize bipolar disorder are highly unpredictable. You might experience rapid cycling moods that frequently occur, making life seem out of control. Alternatively, you might have only a few cycles separated by periods where everything seems normal.
Generally, the signs of bipolar disorder are divided into those for mania and those for depression. Following is a look at the most common symptoms for each.
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms: How To Know If You Have Bipolar
While educating yourself about bipolar disorder symptoms can be helpful, the only way to tell if you have bipolar is to receive a diagnosis from a medical professional. If you experience symptoms of bipolar disorder, you should see your doctor, even if you dont have all of them. Your doctor will most likely refer you to a mental health specialist who will assess whether you fit the DSM-5 bipolar disorder symptoms criteria.
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What Are The Causes Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The exact cause for this imbalance is still unknown, however, genetics and environmental factors are believed to contribute to the development of BD. This article will discuss each factor in detail.
Genetics is one of the leading causes of bipolar disorder. BD tends to run in families, so if you have a family member who has bipolar disorder, you are more likely to develop it yourself. However, not everyone with a family history of bipolar disorder will develop the condition. This means that there is likely another factor or combination
How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed
Bipolar disorder is diagnosed through a clinical interview with a licensed mental health professional, explains Simon A. Rego, PsyD, Chief Psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
Sometimes, the mental health professional will also ask the person to complete some assessment measures to aid in the diagnosis, Rego says. They may also ask to speak with a family member or partner, or other significant person in the persons life, in order to get additional information about the impact the disorder has had on the person and their relationships.
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Can People Tell They Are Bipolar
People can often tell that something is wrong , but may not always be able to accurately label it as bipolar. For example, it is frequently easy for people to know when they are depressed, but sometimes symptoms of mania go unnoticed, or feel good, so they are not as easily seen as an issue, says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, Chief Psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
Recovering From A Manic Episode
In the recovery period, its time to start regaining control over your life and schedule. Discuss with your mental health provider and loved ones what youve learned from the episode, such as possible triggers. You can also start reestablishing a schedule for sleeping, eating, and exercising.
Its important to think about what you can learn from this episode and how you can help yourself in the future. This will help you engage later in mania prevention.
Following a manic episode, many people gain insight into what may lead to their episodes. Examples of common mania triggers can include:
- drinking alcohol or abusing illegal drugs
- staying up all night and skipping sleep
- hanging out with others known to be an unhealthy influence
- going off your regular diet or exercise program
- stopping or skipping your medications
- skipping therapy sessions
Keeping yourself on a routine as much as possible can help reduce manic episodes. But keep in mind that it wont prevent them altogether.
If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, there are certain key preparations you may wish to make.
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I Wish I Was Manic So I Could Get Things Done
That’s not all there is to mania. There are many symptoms of mania, and comments like this not only trivialize a person’s experience with mania but also demonstrate a harmful lack of understanding of what mania actually is. While a person may indeed have a lot of energy during a manic episode, they can also experience racing thoughts, trouble sleeping, and impulsive behavior among other challenges.
How To Treat Bipolar Disorder
The ideal course of treatment for bipolar disorder will vary for each individual. One common option is medication.
“Bipolar disorder is often treated with the help of medications called mood stabilizers,” Madan says. Common mood stabilizers include:
- Valproic acid
- Divalproex sodium
Some people may also benefit from antipsychotic medication, like olanzapine or risperidone , either prescribed alone or alongside a mood stabilizer. These medications can help treat manic or depressive periods that involve instances of psychosis or hallucinations.
Therapy can also be a helpful treatment option, typically in addition to medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people identify unhealthy thoughts or behaviors and replace them with healthier alternatives. A 2017 paper in PLoS One evaluated 19 trials involving 1,384 patients with bipolar disorder. The review concluded that CBT can lower relapse rates, improve depressive symptoms, lessen the severity of manic episodes, and improve day-to-day functioning and interaction with other people.
Depending on the severity of the bipolar disorder in question, people can be treated as outpatients or in a residential psychotherapy program. Madan also recommends that people with bipolar disorder try to avoid extreme stress and sleep deprivation, as these can trigger episodes.
“Regular monitoring by a mental health provider is essential to ensure the ongoing stability and appropriate care,” Madan says.
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Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is one of the most important factors in coping with bipolar disorder. This means going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time, even on the weekends.
It is a good idea to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and stay away from screens before bed. That way, people can fall asleep more easily.
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest triggers of manic and depressive episodes. If people with bipolar disorder are able to avoid sleep deprivation, they may be able to reduce the frequency of their episodes.
What Are Genetic Factors
Genetic factors are the genes you inherit from your parents. These genes play a role in how your brain functions and can increase your risk of developing BD.
Environmental factors are also believed to contribute to the development of bipolar disorder. Things like stress, traumatic life events, and drug and alcohol abuse can all trigger bipolar disorder.
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Bipolar Disorder And Sexual Health
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. People who have bipolar disorder experience high levels of both euphoria and depression. Their moods can go from one extreme to the other.
Bipolar disorder can also affect your sexuality and sexual activity.
During a manic episode, you may experience hypersexuality, or an increase in sexual activity. It may place you at an increased risk for actions that may have negative effects, such as contracting a sexually transmitted infection .
During a depressive episode, you may lose interest in sex. These sexual issues can create problems in relationships and may lower your self-esteem.
During a manic episode, your sex drive and sexual impulses can often lead to sexual behavior thats atypical for you when you arent experiencing episodes of mania.
Examples of hypersexuality during a manic episode can include:
- greatly increased sexual activity without a feeling of sexual satisfaction
- sex with multiple partners, including strangers
Hypersexuality can be a challenging symptom if you have bipolar disorder.
More studies that look at prevalence of this condition are needed.
A 2016 study published in Psychiatry Journal compared the sexual behavior of two groups:
- people with bipolar disorder who were treated as outpatients in private practice
- people treated as outpatients who didnt have affective disorder or schizophrenia
What If Im Not Happy With My Treatment
If you arent happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service , or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
How can I speak to my doctor about my treatment options?
You can speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you arent happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you arent given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it isnt suitable for you.
Whats a second opinion?
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis.
You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
What is advocacy?
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like. NHS complaints advocates can help you if you want to complain about the NHS.
When Should I Call My Teens Healthcare Provider
Feels extreme depression, fear, anxiety, or anger toward him or herself or others
Feels out of control
Hears voices that others dont hear
Sees things that others dont see
Cant sleep or eat for 3 days in a row
Shows behavior that concerns friends, family, or teachers, and others express concern about this behavior and ask you to seek help
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.
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How To Get Help
About 2.6% of the U.S. population have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It usually comes on at about age 25, but it can happen earlier. There are different types, too. Symptoms can happen — or not happen — along a wide spectrum.
A âlife chartâ is a good way to track your moods and help your doctor diagnose whether you have bipolar disorder. Youâll record details about your moods, sleep patterns, and events in your life. If youâre on a manic swing, you might feel âupâ and capable, but a look at the big picture will show you how a âdownâ will follow. The info also will give your doctor a window into your day-to-day — even hour-to-hour — life to decide how best to proceed with treatment if needed.
Special phone apps can help you keep up, too. There are quite a few available to help you track your moods, medications, sleep patterns, and more. One even analyzes how you type on your phone: your rhythm and speed, mistakes, corrections, and other dynamics, but not your content. It then uses this data to gauge your mood and predict bipolar episodes. Just remember that these apps donât take the place of following a treatment plan under your doctorâs care.