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Understanding why your partner acts out sometimes or becomes withdrawn is the first supportive step you can take in strengthening your relationship.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.
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
What lifestyle changes can I make?
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Your healthcare professionals should offer you a combined healthy eating, exercise and sleep programme.
You can find more information about wellbeing any physical health at:www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/living-with-mental-illness/wellbeing-physical-health/.
What are support groups?
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online. The charity Bipolar UK have an online support group. They also have face to face support groups in some areas of the country. Their contact details are in the Useful contacts at the bottom of this page.
What are recovery colleges?
Unfortunately, recovery colleges arent available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google.
Antidepressants For Bipolar Depression
Ease and relative safety of treating depressive episodes with modern antidepressants, and strenuous efforts to minimize or avoid depression by BD patients and clinicians, have made antidepressants the leading treatment provided to BD patients . Nevertheless, there is a striking paucity of therapeutic experimentation and inconsistent findings, despite more than a half-century of use of antidepressant drugs to treat depression, with particularly serious gaps regarding dysthymia and dysphoria, mixed features, and long-term prophylaxis for bipolar depression . Many experts advise caution in using antidepressants, particularly for BD-I patients to avoid potentially dangerous mood-switches, and encourage their use, if necessary, only with mood-stabilizing agents or SGAs, and without current mixed features or agitation .
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Financial Ssa Programs For Depression Disability
The benefits program that works best for you will depend on your symptoms of depression and your current financial needs.
The SSI program is there to help you if your income isnt enough to meet necessities. Its a monthly payment program determined by your current income and assets.
Theres no set amount of help you may receive on SSI. If your state offers similar disability programs, you may receive less money from federal aid.
Most adults under the age of 65 who qualify for SSI have resources that total less than $2,000.
SSDI benefits are payments available if depression prevents you from working. To receive SSDI, your disability must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
You cant receive SSDI benefits for a short-term disability or a partial disability. If you live with seasonal affective disorder, for example, you may not meet the long-term requirements of diagnosis.
You must also be younger than your full retirement age when you apply.
In some cases, your family members may be eligible for SSDI payments while you live with a depression disability.
SSDI is a calculated number based on your employment history. In 2021, the average payment was approximately $1,200 monthly.
Its not uncommon to receive a rejection letter from SSDI. This is likely due to some details needed in your application. However, you can re-apply as many times as needed until you get approved.
What Does It Mean If Your Partner Is Bipolar
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by intense mood changes. People with the illness switch back and forth from mania or hypomania to having episodes of depression.
The lifelong condition tends to run in families, although the cause of bipolar disease is unknown. However, it can often be successfully managed through treatment. There are two primary types of bipolar disorder:
Supporting Someone With Bipolar Disorder
This page is for friends, partners and family who want to help someone with bipolar disorder.
Seeing someone you care about going through the moods and symptoms of bipolar disorder can feel distressing. But you can offer support in lots of ways, while also looking after your own wellbeing.
This page covers how you can:
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:
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Closely Observe Your Mood And Symptoms
When youre learning how to deal with bipolar, make sure you are paying close attention to how you feel, your moods and whether youre experiencing any symptoms. If you start noticing even minor changes, you may be able to work with your care providers to prevent those challenges from coming much bigger problems.
A journal can be a good way to keep up with your symptoms and spot red flags early on. Another option is to keep a mood chart handy. This is an easy way to reference how you are feeling and see subtle shifts that may need attention.
Monitoring How You Feel
Recognizing what activates your mood episodes goes hand-in-hand with monitoring your moods.
Checking in with yourself daily on how you feel is a great self-help strategy for bipolar disorder. It can help you recognize any red flags or patterns.
If, for example, you know irritability often comes before an episode of mania, you can be proactive when you start to feel irritable. But if youre not usually aware of how you feel, you might miss this opportunity.
Journaling can be a great tool to accomplish this, and you can go as deep or light as you want.
You can also reflect on your emotional states and relationships. Its all up to you and what you find most helpful and practical.
At first, especially early after your bipolar mood diagnosis, it can be challenging to tell whether a high mood is really the beginning of a manic episode or whether youre just feeling more confident, creative, and socially at ease.
However, the more you track your moods, the easier it will be to establish a link.
It can be a strain watching out for bipolar disorder symptoms all the time, particularly when youre first learning about how they affect your life.
Getting a handle on your condition is by no means instant it can take some time to figure it out. But in time, keeping track of your health will help you gain more insight into your moods.
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Tip : Monitor Your Symptoms And Moods
In order to stay well, its important to be closely attuned to the way you feel. By the time obvious symptoms of mania or depression appear, it is often too late to intercept the mood swing, so keep a close watch for subtle changes in your mood, sleeping patterns, energy level, and thoughts. If you catch the problem early and act swiftly, you may be able to prevent a minor mood change from turning into a full-blown episode of mania or depression.
Video: Living With Bipolar Disorder
Learn about Phil’s experience with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder affects millions of adults in the U.S. Most people are diagnosed with bipolar disorder in their teens or twenties. However, it can occur at any age. People are at a higher risk if they have a family history of bipolar disorder, experienced a traumatic event, and/or misused drugs or alcohol.
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Discuss Behaviour You Find Challenging
If someone is hearing or seeing things that you don’t, they might feel angry, annoyed or confused if you don’t share their beliefs.
What feels real for them is real in those moments. It might be helpful if you try to:
- Stay as calm as you can.
- Let them know that, although you don’t share the belief, you understand that it feels real for them.
- Focus on supporting them with how they are feeling, if possible, rather than confirming or challenging their reality.
During a manic episode, they may do things that feel embarrassing, strange or upsetting to you. It can be helpful if you try to:
- Calmly discuss your feelings with them when theyre more stable.
- Try not to be judgemental or overly critical.
- Explain how specific things they’ve done make you feel, rather than making general statements about their actions.
“What feels real is real for him in that moment. It helps when I respect that and comfort him rather than trying to explain it’s not ‘real’ for everyone else.”
What Are The Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Each type of bipolar disorder includes periods of highs and lows. The major difference between forms of the disorder is how extreme the mood swings are and how long they last. In all types, there are periods between manic or depressive episodes when symptoms lessen or people feel stable.
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Become Engaged In Their Treatment Process
You are a part of their life, and a part of their life is treatment. Whether they are just starting a treatment or have been at it for years, people with bipolar are often inundated with doctors appointments and counseling sessions with their therapists. You do not have to attend these appointments in fact, you probably should not. But what you can do is go with them to their appointments and wait outside.
After their appointment, your loved one might want to open up to you about what they discussed in their appointment. Never press them to tell you anything it must be entirely their choice. Still, this is a good time to let them unwind all the thoughts that are in their head from the appointment. This shows that you are a stable force in their life and that you are there to provide comfort as needed.
Learn Their Warning Signs And Triggers
Most people have some warning signs that they’re about to experience a mood episode.
Many people will also have triggers, such as stress, which can bring on an episode. Try to:
- Talk to your friend, partner or family member about their warning signs, exploring what they may be.
- Gently let them knowif you’ve noticed certain behaviours that normally happen before an episode.
- Understand what their triggers are and how you can help avoid or manage them.
“Having a father with bipolar is definitely a worry you ride the highs and lows with them. Looking out for patterns, talking, remaining calm and supportive is essential.”
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If Your Spouse Has Diagnosed Bipolar Disorder
Recurrent or extreme changes in mood can have a significant impact on the spouses of people living with bipolar disorder. There can be a level of unpredictability in the relationship that causes distress.
On the one hand, the partner experiencing the mood episode is affected by their symptoms, leading to changes in behavior and level of functioning. On the other hand, their spouse may feel responsible for their partner and the family, and may begin to feel burnt out.
These dynamics create challenges in marriages that can be difficult to overcome. Research indicates divorce rates are higher in couples in which one partner has the condition.
What Is The Outlook Of Bipolar Disorder
The prognosis for bipolar disorder is often poor unless its properly treated. Many people with bipolar disorder who receive appropriate treatment can live fulfilling and productive lives.
Bipolar disorder results in approximately nine years reduction in expected life span, and as many as1 in 5 people with bipolar disorder commit suicide. An estimated 60% of all people with bipolar disorder have drug or alcohol dependence.
This is why its essential to seek medical care and stay committed to treatment for bipolar disorder.
Regular and continued use of medication can help reduce episodes of mania and depression. By knowing how to recognize the symptoms and triggers of these episodes, theres a better chance for effective treatment and finding coping methods that may prevent long periods of illness, extended hospital stays and suicide.
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Effects Of Anger On Complacency
Some relationships that orbit around bipolar anger symptoms can turn abusive, and thats not okay. Neither is just dealing with abuse to keep the peace. There needs to be mutual respect and understanding despite any underlying, undiagnosed, or untreated mental health conditions.
Meanwhile, abuse can take many forms. It can be physical, mental, emotional, financial, sexual, or verbal. Heres how to tell the difference:
- Physical abuse consists of hitting, pushing, grabbing, kicking, or other unwanted physical contacts.
- Mental abuse is when someone uses manipulative tactics to coerce certain reactions and behaviors.
- Emotional abuse involves passive-aggressiveness, controlling, and blaming others for bad behavior.
- Financial abuse is defined as unfair or manipulatively restricting living expenses to incite behaviors or reactions.
- Sexual abuse is when someone inappropriately touches you, becomes uncomfortably suggestive, or harasses you about sex.
- Verbal abuse consists of throwing insults, belittling, calling names, and trying to embarrass or shame you.
Remember, having a mental illness is not an excuse to be abusive. If you or your loved one becomes violent or cruel, seek help right away.
Learn And Use Relaxation Techniques
Bipolar disorder is marked by a manic episode, depressive episode, or both. Stress is a known trigger for these episodes. Therefore, managing your stress effectively is critical if youre living with bipolar disorder.
Focus on understanding your limits at work, school, or home. Dont overwhelm yourself with more than you can take on or feasibly accomplish at any given time.
Take care of yourself and ensure you have the time you need throughout your days to relax your mind.
Its simple to do, and you can begin to feel the effects in just 10 deep breaths.
- Inhale deeply to the count of 4
- Hold your breath for the count of 4
- Exhale slowly for a count of 4
- Repeat this pattern 10 times
Youll feel better within just a minute or two. It works every time!
We all need downtime to relax. Daily practices can help you fight away bipolar depression and maintain a brighter mood. Consider some of these effective techniques for relaxation:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Sitting in a steam room
There are a lot of other techniques, too. Find what works for you and build some time into your schedule daily.
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Information For Family Carers And Friends
How can I get support?
You can speak to your GP. You should be given your own assessment through NHS mental health services to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.
These are some other options for you:
- Join a carers service
- Join a carers support group
- Ask your local authority for a carers assessment
- Read about the condition
- Apply for welfare benefits for carers
Rethink Mental Illness run carers support groups in some areas. You can also search for groups on the Carers Trust website:
- Rethink Mental Illness: www.rethink.org/about-us/our-support-groups
- Carers Trust: www.carers.org/search/network-partners
How can I support the person I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with bipolar disorder if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills.
You should be aware of what you can do if you are worried about their mental state. It can be helpful to know contact information for their mental health team or GP.
You could find out from your relative if they have a crisis plan. You could help your relative to make a crisis plan if they dont have one.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. But you dont have a legal right to this. The medical team should encourage the person that you care for to allow information to be shared with you.
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