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How To Deal With People With Bipolar Disorder

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Be Mindful Of Your Discourse

Supporting a person with Depression or Bipolar Disorder – Breda Dooley

If you have to deal with a bipolar person at work, its important to be mindful of the kinds of words you use.

Some words might trigger an undesired response from the bipolar employee. So when youre speaking with your employee make sure that you find the right words to express yourself.

For example:

You can always ask for support.
I know how you are feeling Its difficult for me to fully understand what youre going through but I can see that its distressing for you. How can I help?

What Are The Treatments For Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that requires management throughout a person’s life. People who have numerous episodes of mood changes in a year can be much more difficult to treat. Medication is the primary form of treatment, but the additional use of psychotherapy or “talk” therapy is sometimes recommended to help prevent future episodes.

There are many drugs available to treat bipolar disorder. Proposed guidelines for treatment options are based on the three main phases of bipolar disorder, which include the acutemanic/mixed mood states, acute major depressive episodes, and finally the continuation/maintenance phase. As a general rule, avoiding antidepressants and taking two mood stabilizers has proven to be an effective strategy for most patients.

Mood-stabilizing drugs

Lithium is a mood-stabilizing drug. It has proven helpful in controlling mania and depression and preventing depression and manic episodes. Lithium will reduce symptoms of mania within two weeks of starting therapy, but it may take weeks to months before the condition is completely controlled. Thus other drugs like antipsychotic drugs or antidepressant drugs may also be used to help control symptoms.

Common side effects of lithium include:

  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Nausea

The following are signs of a lithium overdose. Call your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience:

  • Blurred vision
  • Weight gain
  • Slight trembling of hands

Atypical neuroleptics

Bipolar 1 Disorder Vs Bipolar 2 Disorder

There are three types of bipolar depression. Bipolar 1 Disorder is characterized by manic episodes lasting seven days or more and depressive episodes lasting two weeks or more. Manic episodes may be severe enough to require hospitalization. For people who have Bipolar 1, its also possible for them to experience a mix of depressive and manic symptoms in rapid succession.

With Bipolar 2 Disorder, depressive episodes are broken up by episodes of hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. Symptoms are milder and last for several days instead of a week or more.

Cyclothymic disorder is a rare mood disorder that causes emotional highs and lows that may go on for months at a time, but are not as severe as what happens with Bipolar 1 Disorder or Bipolar 2 Disorder.

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Helping Them Find Treatment

Be supportive, but avoid being pushy. There are many reasons why a person might hesitate to seek treatment. Focus on being encouraging and positive about your attitude toward getting help.

Offer to help them by driving them to appointments. You might also assist them in locating qualified a doctor or therapist who has experience treating bipolar disorder.

Supporting Someone With Bipolar

How Do You Cope with Your Bipolar Disorder?

It’s often pretty rough trying to cope with a manic-depressive loved one. You want desperately to help them, but sometimes the usual notions of what it means to help someone backfire. In fact, they are quite likely to backfire and so, take the word of one whose been on both the receiving and the delivering end of the following advice – it works.

APA ReferenceStaff, H. . Dealing With A Bipolar Person – Loving Tough, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, June 26 from

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But Rememberyou Are Not Their Doctor Or Therapist

You dont have to do a diagnostic interview or psychologically size up a friendthats not your role, says Dr. Singh. Your role is to express concern, especially if there might be a serious risk of harm, and help them find help as quickly as possible.

Outside of that, dont assume that you need to monitor your friends moods or behaviors for any changes unless youve specifically talked about that. Having a conversation with your friend about what symptoms or triggers theyd specifically like you to take note ofor notis a great place to start.

For instance, if you know your friend is in a lot of debt and theyve asked you to help them monitor their spending when theyre experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode, then it would make sense to speak up when theyre suddenly talking about making an unnecessary financial purchase with money they dont appear to have. But if you havent discussed your role in helping them manage their symptoms, you dont want to just assume that every splurge they make is due to a manic episode.

And remember: Unless your friend is experiencing a mental health emergency with symptoms like suicidal ideation, all you can do is be there for them and encourage them to talk to their doctor if youre concernedyou cant force them to get treatment.

Be Active In Their Treatment

Treatment for people with bipolar disorder usually consists of many therapy sessions and doctor visits. While you shouldnt necessarily attend these appointments, you can help someone with bipolar disorder by coming with them and then waiting for them until their appointment is over.

These appointments can sometimes seem complicated or scary to people with bipolar disorder. Having someone there who can offer support and talk to them may help reduce any stress or anxiety they may be feeling.

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Develop An Emergency Plan

If you do feel your symptoms worsening or a manic or depressive episode beginning, have a plan in place for how youll deal with it. You should create a crisis plan when you feel good because youll be more rational and clear-headed.

Your emergency or crisis plan should include the people youll reach out to for support. It should also include what youll do if you start to experience severe symptoms such as suicidal thoughts. Remind yourself of what medications you need to take, and who to contact if an out-of-control emergency situation arises.

The Recovery Village provides treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders like bipolar disorder. If you or a loved one are struggling with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, contact us to learn more about treatment.

Create An Episode Plan

How to deal with bipolar disorder? – Dr. Sulata Shenoy

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

By creating an episode plan for depression, mania, hypomania, and episodes with mixed features you are not only showing your support to someone you love but also equipping yourself to help them in ways personalized to them.

Just like not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms in the same way, each person will want a plan customized to them.

Its important that you are both clear-minded and have stable moods when you make an episode plan.

Here are some tips for creating a plan:

  • Discuss what your special someone needs or wants if they find themselves in an episode.
  • Ask about what triggers to avoid.
  • Request any phone numbers that you or your loved one may need if symptoms were to accelerate, such as their psychiatrist or therapist.
  • Ask about any medications prescribed for your loved one that, if taken at the first signs of an oncoming episode, may help to avoid the episode altogether.

You can also make sure that you know which professional to call if an episode becomes urgent or an emergency, or if you are concerned for their safety.

You can also ask your loved one about being an emergency contact or signing a release of information to their healthcare team. This means that you can communicate with the care team regarding your loved ones care if an emergency happens.

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Help Your Friend Reduce The Stress In Their Life

When someone with bipolar disorder experiences stress, it can make their symptoms worse. Help your friend reduce their stress in any way that you can. For example, maybe you volunteer to come and help them with housework a few times a week or run an errand for them. Small things you can do to take some of the burden off their shoulders can be helpful.

Finally, you need to take care of yourself as well. When youre a support system for a friend with bipolar, it can take a physical and mental toll. There will be times where you may need to step awaynot from the person, but the situation. Allow yourself the freedom to do that without guilt. Keep in mind that you need to have balance in your own life. Search for ways that you can find joy and relieve stress even when youre helping someone you care about deal with a serious mental illness.

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.

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Tips For Supporting Someone Through Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Over time, treatment for bipolar can be effective and can significantly improve quality of life. It can take time to find the right combination of medications and optimal dosages. It can also take time to find a therapy approach that works well. If you have a loved one currently receiving treatment for bipolar, they may be frustrated at the time it takes to find the right combination or the initial symptoms they experience during treatment. Some tips to support someone through bipolar treatment include :

Why Friendship With A Person Who Has Bipolar Disorder Can Be Hard

Management : Managing bipolar symptoms and taking bipolar medications ...

I know the bipolar disorder is my problem and not that of my friends. However, something that affects me so profoundly naturally seeps into close relationships. I know that my friends “feel” my bipolar disorder in ways because of how much I am affected.

For example, some friends with bipolar disorder:

  • May pull away and isolate when severe depression is present
  • May experience anger with which they have trouble dealing
  • May have unusual affect and beliefs if major mania/hypomania is present
  • May cry and express very sad and negative emotions
  • May need help with everyday chores more than other people

And, of course, as we’re all different, bipolar disorder can affect our friendships in different ways. The point is this: my bipolar disorder affects my friendships, period. I get that.

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Learning To Recognise Triggers

If you have bipolar disorder, you can learn to recognise the warning signs of an approaching episode of mania or depression.

A community mental health worker, such as a psychiatric nurse, may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history.

This will not prevent the episode occurring, but it’ll allow you to get help in time.

This may mean making some changes to your treatment, perhaps by adding an antidepressant or antipsychotic medicine to the mood-stabilising medication you’re already taking.

Your GP or specialist can advise you on this.

How Can I Help My Child Or Teen

Help begins with the right diagnosis and treatment. Talk to your family health care provider about any symptoms you notice.

If your child has bipolar disorder, here are some basic things you can do:

  • Be patient.
  • Encourage your child to talk, and listen to your child carefully.
  • Pay attention to your childs moods, and be alert to any major changes.
  • Understand triggers, and learn strategies for managing intense emotions and irritability.
  • Help your child have fun.
  • Remember that treatment takes time: sticking with the treatment plan can help your child get better and stay better.
  • Help your child understand that treatment can make life better.

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Convincing A Person With Bipolar Disorder To See A Doctor

Aside from offering emotional support, the best way to help your loved one with bipolar disorder is by encouraging and supporting treatment. Often, that can be more of a challenge than it sounds. Since people with bipolar disorder tend to lack insight into their condition, its not always easy to get them to a doctor. When your loved one is manic, they feel great and dont realize theres a problem. When your loved one is depressed, they may recognize somethings wrong, but often lack the energy to seek help.

If your loved one wont acknowledge the possibility of bipolar disorder, dont argue about it. The idea may be frightening to them, so be sensitive. Suggest a routine medical checkup instead, or a doctors visit for a specific symptom, such as insomnia, irritability, or fatiguethen privately call ahead to tell the doctor of your concerns about bipolar disorder.

Things you can say that might help:

  • Bipolar disorder is a real illness, like diabetes. It requires medical treatment.
  • Youre not to blame for bipolar disorder. You didnt cause it. Its not your fault.
  • You can feel better. There are many treatments that can help.
  • When bipolar disorder isnt treated, it usually gets worse.

Dont Try To Push Them Into Something They Arent Ready For

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder

Treatment is extremely important for people with bipolar disorder, but dont try to force your friend with the disorder into something they arent ready for, whether that be treatment or anything else. If you see an emergency occurring or something potentially dangerous, thats different and it may require medical intervention.

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Tip : Develop An Active Daily Routine

Your lifestyle choices, including your sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns, have a significant impact on your moods. There are many things you can do in your daily life to get your symptoms under control and to keep depression and mania at bay.

Build structure into your life. Developing and sticking to a daily schedule can help stabilize the mood swings of bipolar disorder. Include set times for sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising, working, and relaxing. Try to maintain a regular pattern of activity even through emotional ups and downs.

Exercise frequently and avoid sitting for long periods of time.Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming dancing, climbing or drumming all activities that keep both arms and legs active are especially effective at treating depression. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity into your daily routine. Ten minutes here and there is just as effective as exercising for longer periods of time. Walking is a good choice for people of all fitness levels.

Keep a strict sleep schedule. Getting too little sleep can trigger mania, so its important to get plenty of rest. For some people, losing even a few hours can cause problems. However, too much sleep can also worsen your mood. The best advice is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

Healthy sleep habits for managing bipolar disorder

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.

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Offer Encouragement And Be Optimistic

Being optimistic and staying positive is important when it comes to handling a bipolar employee.

Offer broad encouragement and show appreciation to good work and disciplined behavior.

People with bipolar disorder alternate between extremely good moods and extremely low moods.

If you notice that your bipolar employee is showing signs of depression, staying optimistic and encouraging them can provide them with support and uplift them.

Signs of depression involve:

  • low performance
  • and mood swings.

Although you might want to implement disciplinary measures, these might cause more issues when it comes to dealing with bipolar employees.

Try being supportive and understanding rather than being rigid. During these periods, its crucial that you offer your support and see whether you can do some adaptations at work to help the employee.

Does Having One Manic Episode Necessarily Mean You Will Have More And Will Have Depressive Episodes

8 Steps for Managing Bipolar Mood Swings

Not necessarily. Studies have shown that approximately 10 percent of patients have a single episode only. However, the majority of patients have more than one. The number of episodes within a patients lifetime varies. Some individuals may have only two or three within their lifetime while others may have the same number within a single year. Frequency of episodes depends on many factors including the natural course of the condition as well as on appropriate treatment. Not taking medication or taking it incorrectly are frequent causes of episode recurrence.

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How To Talk To Someone Who Has Bipolar Disorder

I may be a little controversial with this post, but bear with me. Part of the reason for stigma around bipolar disorder is that we can be a little different when symptomatic, and people arent quite sure how to talk with us during those periods. I know for myself, irritability, depression and especially effusiveness can create some socially awkward situations. As a result, we can be ignored or even disliked in some cases.

Conversation includes a number of complex social cues and skills. Bipolar disorder interferes with our ability to recognize those cues or to use those skills. However, if you know that you are speaking to someone with bipolar disorder and are at least vaguely aware of what kind of episode that person is in, there are reasonable accommodations that can be made, depending on what symptoms are involved. So, Ive put together some thoughts about how best to relate to us during our symptomatic episodes.

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