Treating Bipolar Disorder & Managing Relationships

Those are are currently treating their bipolar disorder know that it can put a great strain on their personal lives. Not only does it affect the sufferer, but it can also take a great toll on those around them.

Are you or someone you know diagnosed with bipolar disorder?  If so, you’ve probably discovered that it can make relationships challenging.

Mania and depression are the common mood swings in bipolar disorder (sometimes referred to as manic depression). These “ups” and “downs” can often strain relationships with those closest to the sufferer.

Here are some tips to consider regarding relationships while you are treating bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Relationships Need Extra Care

The majority of bipolar cases are servere.n One of the most difficult aspects of life with this disease is maintaining friendships and long-term connections. Bipolar partnerships, where at least one partner has bipolar disorder, can be challenging as well.

In certain circumstances, the bipolar person is struggling to manage relationships with non-bipolar friends and companions. Other times, they are managing relationships with bipolar persons. In reality, “assortative mating” refers to the trend of bipolar persons marrying each other in statistically disproportionate numbers.

That’s why bipolar disorder has a strong genetic component and often runs in families, too. So it’s likely that persons with bipolar disorder are trying to manage relationships with other bipolar family members.

The right diagnosis and treatment, usually a combination of medication and talk therapy, can help persons with bipolar disorder better manage their symptoms. Because this is a lifelong chronic illness (episodes of mania and depression are likely to recur), ongoing medication helps manage the condition.

Even with therapy, patients with bipolar disorder can have relationship issues, and I regularly hear painful stories of lost ties due to their disease’ most destructive behaviors. Healthy relationships are possible with adequate education, care, and control.

Bipolar Relationship Tips

Whether you’re trying to mend a damaged connection or manage a “bipolar relationship” with a loved one, friend, or coworker, here are some suggestions:

Educating Yourself

Relationships are not a one way street. In this scenario, both partners must be aware of the symptoms, associated behaviors, and treatment alternatives. They should also be aware of potential low and high triggers to help avoid unpleasant repercussions.

In more severe circumstances, I may suggest a “treatment contract” between my patient and a spouse or significant other. This can help set appropriate boundaries and expectations. This may include discussing mood charts, formulating a treatment plan together (including drugs and individual and couples counseling), and visiting care providers.

Damage Control

Drunkenness, gambling, infidelity, costly shopping sprees that strain a family’s finances, and other harmful and risky activities are all possible outcomes of manic episodes. To avoid them, you must know when they arise and how to recognize the early warning symptoms. Knowing how to handle them when they occur can also help the relationship. Before an episode gets serious, both partners can learn to identify triggers and seek help.

Depressive episodes can cause feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, emptiness, and even suicidal thoughts. Recognizing early warning signals can help both partners prevent pain.

Embrace Acceptance

It’s hard to forgive and move on when dreadful things are said or done. A friend or partner should not tolerate mistreatment by a bipolar person who is out of control. However, they can help by understanding the illness and being willing to forgive.

Persons with bipolar disorder can also practice going back to those they have wounded, taking responsibility and apologizing for their destructive actions, even when they couldn’t “help it”. In addition, they must be ready to deal with the disappointment and loss of individuals who cannot deal with the illness. Bipolar people can go forward in a positive and productive way when there is damage they cannot fix and/or relationships they cannot hold onto or mend, despite their best efforts.

Contact Me

I specialize in treating bipolar disorder. If you live in or near Chandler, AZ, feel free to contact me today to set up an initial consultation!