Facing The Limitations Of Parental Influence With Adult Childrens Bipolarity
Trying to help an adult child with bipolarity who doesnt want help, denies the presence of the illness, isnât treatment compliant or whose lifestyle contributes to their instability is a painful dilemma for parents!
In July 2016, I wrote a post titled Tough Choices for Parents of Adults with Bipolar Disorder. The post addressed the difficult choices faced by parents of adult children struggling with bipolar disorder. Iâve frankly been surprised to find that among my different blog posts, it generates some of the highest numbers of inquiries and comments from parents facing these kinds of situations.
While the details of each familys dilemma require situationally-specific approaches, I do want to offer some additional perspective for parents struggling with their own helplessness in relation to an adult childs maladaptive behaviors.
1. Parents and adult children with bipolar disorder need to be able to have constructive communication about the dilemmas theyre faced with.
Often, I hear that communication has broken down. The family isnt openly communicating about difficult issues, or worse, communication has broken down and been replaced with open conflict or a severed connection. Essentially people are not feeling heard or understood and theres a lot of consequent anger and hurt.
2. Recognize that your child is an adult and your ability to help them is limited.
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Tips For Coping With Bipolar Disorder In The Family
Accept your loved ones limits. Your loved one with bipolar disorder cant control their moods. They cant just snap out of a depression or get a hold of themselves during a manic episode. Neither depression nor mania can be overcome through self-control, willpower, or reasoning. So telling your loved one to Stop acting crazy or to Look on the bright side wont help.
Accept your own limits. You cant rescue your loved one with bipolar disorder, nor can you force them to take responsibility for getting better. You can offer support, but ultimately, recovery is in the hands of the person with the illness.
Reduce stress. Stress makes bipolar disorder worse, so try to find ways to reduce stress in your loved ones life. Ask how you can help and volunteer to take over some of the persons responsibilities if needed. Establishing and enforcing a daily routinewith regular times for getting up, having meals, and going to bedcan also reduce family stress.
Communicate openly. Open and honest communication is essential to coping with bipolar disorder in the family. Share your concerns in a loving way, ask your loved one how theyre feeling, and make an effort to truly listeneven if you disagree with your loved one or dont relate to whats being said.
Supporting a person with bipolar disorder
What you can say that helps:
When Youre Married To Someone With Bipolar Disorder
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Learn more about bipolar disorder and relationships by reading our relationship blogs.
Bipolar disorder wears many faces. There are as many experiences with bipolar disorder as there are people with bipolar. These experiences run the gamut from wonderful and exciting to confusing, disappointing and devastating. This article addresses some of the issues that can arise when dealing with a spouse with bipolar disorder.
Like all individuals, people with bipolar disorder have many good attributes, but at times, they also display less desirable qualities, such as being withdrawn, irritable, moody, and depressed. They may be affectionate and loving sometimes and then cold and distant at other times. The person may welcome and enjoy sex one day, while rejecting affection the next day. These erratic behaviors can be quite challenging for all concerned, especially spouses.
At times the person with bipolar disorder may experience manic or hypomanic episodes during which they can be fun, interesting, talkative, upbeat and full of energy. At other times, the person may experience depression that effects them physically, spiritually and soulfully. The spouse might feel confused, not knowing how to deal with certain behaviors.
- Academic struggles
- Reckless behavior
- Extreme defiance
- Controlling behaviors
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
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Specific Effects On Adult Children
Listed below are only some of the effects that having a bipolar parent can have on an adult child:
- Constant anxiety
- Self-blame and anger at the healthier parent
- Feelings of shame, embarrassment, and guilt, as if the child caused the parents mental illness
- Interrupted family routines leading to feelings of uncertainty and instability
- A sense of loss because the sick parent will never be like they were before the illness
- Shame over the parents condition
- Social isolation
- Difficulty concentrating at college or being productive at their job
- Missed child and teen years, due to having to take care of a sick parent and any siblings
- Family avoidance
Be Patient And Stay Optimistic
Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition, so the symptoms will come and go throughout a persons life. The disorder is unpredictable, with symptom-free periods alternating with extreme mood episodes. For the sake of the person with bipolar disorder, try to stay patient and optimistic. This can help them stay on track to living a full, healthy life.
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How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed
A health care provider will ask questions about your childs mood, sleeping patterns, energy levels, and behavior. There are no blood tests or brain scans that can diagnose bipolar disorder. However, the health care provider may use tests to see if something other than bipolar disorder is causing your childs symptoms. Sometimes health care providers need to know about medical conditions in the family, such as depression or substance use.
Other disorders have symptoms like those of bipolar disorder, including ADHD, disruptive mood regulation disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and anxiety disorders. It also can be challenging to distinguish bipolar disorder from depression that occurs without mania, which is referred to as major depression. A health care provider who specializes in working with children and teens can make a careful and complete evaluation of your childs symptoms to provide the right diagnosis.
Dealing With A Bipolar Crisis
‘ I see you falling’ by Sarah K Reece
Bipolar crises include times when the person becomes severely depressed or manic, unable to function or to look after themselves or others, or at high risk of suicide or other negative consequences. Helpful ways to deal with a crisis include to:
Who to call
If you think that things may be reaching a crisis point, call the persons clinician or mental health team and express your concerns . Do not hesitate to call the mental health crisis team, clinician or an ambulanceif a crisis occurs. If the person urgently needs to be restrained to stop them from harming themselves or others, you might need to call the police.
Put safety first
If you are in danger, consider your own safety first and then get medical help for the person .
If you dont get the help you expect
If you do not get the help you expect from these emergency services, be persistent and contact another clinician , or take the person to a hospital emergency department. Sometimes caregivers find that emergency health services are not able to assist them in a crisis, and they need to care for the severely ill person at home. If you care for a seriously ill person at home, make sure you have the necessary support .
Helplines and counseling
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Early Signs Of Bipolar Disorder In Adult Children
Have you noticed your childs mood shifting inexplicably? Young adults with bipolar disorder have periods of extreme happiness only to drop to a depressive state soon after. Bipolar disorder is manageable with an effective treatment plan, which could include therapy, medication, a consistent schedule and anything else that will keep your child on track.
Recognizing the telltale signs of bipolar disorder can be tricky. With bipolar disorder, the feelings and habits your child cycles through are moments of high energy mistaken for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and extreme lows which may be misdiagnosed as major depression.
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How Is This Problem An Opportunity For Growth
How could dealing with it help make you a better person? What new skills could it help you develop? Are there tangible benefits that may come from dealing with the problem effectively?
Sample Growth Opportunity: Many parents have the same problem that I do. Having this experience with my son has deepened my understanding and empathy for others who are experiencing parental estrangement. It has also helped me to build new skills for taking care of myself and learn more about the way my son wants me to communicate with him.
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Know When Its Too Much
No one knows how to handle bipolar disorder better than the specialists trained to treat it. If youre helping a person with bipolar disorder and it feels like things are getting too difficult to handle, reach out to a medical or mental health expert right away. Call 911 if the person becomes abusive or threatens to harm themselves or others.
Tips On Dealing With Someone With Bipolar Anger
In order for you to stay happy in your relationship, and to avoid any of the pitfalls mentioned above, it’s a good idea to practice some coping skills. As you begin to have a better understanding of the illness, you’ll come to anticipate the anger, and over time know how to react. Some strategies for dealing with bipolar anger in your partner or spouse are:
- Finally, even though it can be difficult to remember at times, it’s important to understand your partner is not upset at you. The anger is a symptom of an illness beyond their control.
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How To Help Your Son Quit Drinking
Recently, weve been getting more and more emails asking us how do I help my son quit drinking alcohol? from worried parents that seem desperate to help their loved ones.
Seeing your beloved sons condition deteriorate due to his alcohol addiction is heartbreaking. But you must stay strong and focused, in order to help him. As a parent, he needs you now, more than ever.
In todays post we will cover the best way to approach your sons alcohol problem, or as a matter of fact, any other hazardous addiction. We will also give you some useful tips on how to help him quit alcohol without being confrontational.
Getting Ready For The Big Talk
Take some time and write down how you feel about your sons drinking problem.
- How does your sons drinking negatively affected his behavior?
- Does your sons drinking problem affect him financially?
- What are the changes you have seen in your son since he started drinking alcohol more frequently?
- Is your son neglecting the people he loves due to his drinking problem?
- What are the damages caused to you, your son, and your family due to his drinking problems?
Answer these questions to yourself. Then write the answers down.
Before talking to your son, we recommend that you write down everything that you want to say to him, it will also help you get things off your chest, as youre probably going through a lot of stress right now, and this is a therapeutic process for your mental health as well.
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How To Deal With Your Bipolar Child
- How to Deal with your Bipolar Child
We know how frustrating it is to be a parent of a child who has a bipolar disorder. When the moment comes that your childs behavior becomes outrageous and out of control we tend to blame ourselves. That is wrong, keep in mind that these children are suffering from an illness and they need to get away from that behavior. There some strategies and tips for parents on how to deal with your child who has a bipolar disorder.
You know your child, you know their strengths and weaknesses encourage them to do outdoor activities. Always remember to praise them whenever they did a good job or they show positive traits with their activity. As a parent, you should be aware of the things that could trigger stressful events, talk to your child often and explain it, to them to understand and teach them how to manage it. Monitor your childs behavior as you can make a journal that can help you identify moods, identify potential triggers, and become aware of early warning signs of mood episodes. Have a crisis plan in place. If your child can become violent or suicidal, develop an emergency plan ahead of time, avoid confrontations in potentially dangerous situations.
Its a difficult balancing act. You have to be supportive and sympathetic and always seek professional help.
Where Do I Go For Help
If youre not sure where to get help, your doctor, pediatrician, or other family health care provider is a good place to start. A health care provider can refer you to a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, who has experience treating bipolar disorder and can evaluate your childs symptoms.
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What If My Adult Kid Is Exhibiting Unhealthy Or Even Dangerous Behaviors
If theres a risk of harm to themselves or others, you need to get help immediately. Otherwise, Dr. Brister advises you make a distinction between behavior you disapprove of and behavior thats actually dangerous for your child. This is where having communication privileges with healthcare providers is helpful so you can share what youre observing, from violent episodes, to substance use, to erratic sleep patterns. Even if you dont have permission, Dr. Brister says you can still legally talk to your childs providers, though you wont get any information from them.
How Much Emotional Space Should I Give My Bipolar Adult Child
Ideally, youve got a supportive, friendly relationship with your grown child that promotes maximum independence, says Robert Hamilton, M.D., a psychiatrist at OSF HealthCare in Normal, IL. How involved you should be depends on how well your son or daughter can function, what their needs are, how well you get along, and what youre able to handle, Dr. Hamilton says. The familys roleparent, partner, sibling, or close friendis to be a consistent source of support and encouragement through the good and the bad, says Teri Brister, L.P.C., national director of research and quality assurance at NAMI.
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Monitor Meds And Chart The Moods
Mood-stabilizing medications can restore the brain to a more normal level, reducing the likelihood of chemicals flooding in to cause the anger and fury. However, sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the precise dosage for success in stabilizing your child. In order to properly communicate the effects of the meds to your childs health professional, its important to keep an accurate and detailed mood and behavioral chart so you can monitor the effects.
When To Seek Help
Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder experience severe mood and behavior changes that are extreme and represent a major change from their typical mood and behavior. It might be difficult to know when the symptoms are severe enough to warrant evaluation and, potentially, diagnosis, so consider these three basic factors: functioning, feeling, and family.
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What Help Is Available For Children And Families
Every year, bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million U.S. adults, which is about 2.6 percent of the population. This means that your parent isnt alone and neither are you. There are a number of support options available to help family members better understand how to help their loved one, as well as how to take care of themselves.
Online forums and support groups are available, as well as in-person group sessions with other people going through the same thing. Here are some resources you can use:
Advice For Parents On Caring For Bipolar Disorder
From The Quarterly,
Robert M.A. Hirschfeld, M.D., is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Prior to joining Weill Cornell in April 2015, he served for nearly 25 years as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and for 18 years at the National Institute of Mental Health as Chief of the Mood, Anxiety, and Personality Disorders Research Branch. He is a founding member of the Foundations Scientific Council, a 2002 Distinguished Investigator Grantee, and winner of the Falcone Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Affective Disorders Research .
Dr. Hirschfeld is world renowned for his research on the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder and depression. He developed the Mood Disorder Questionnaire in 2000, the most widely used screening instrument for bipolar disorder in the world. He served as chair of the original and the revised American Psychiatric Association Guidelines for Treatment of Patients with Bipolar Disorders.
There are lots of misconceptions about bipolar disorder. Can you define the disorder and explain the relation between its manic and depressive phases?
Thats mostly correct. You dont need the depression to make the diagnosis you do need at least one manic or hypomanic episode. But in general I would characterize bipolar disorder as an illness usually involving episodes of both highs and lows.
Is there any way to prevent this tumult?
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