For people with bipolar disorder maintaining relationships are a crucial part of their overall ability to cope. There are many roles loved ones can fill, like recognizing the signs of an oncoming episode, helping manage those episodes and assist with getting the person back on their treatment track afterwards.
One of the greatest balancing acts for people with bipolar disorder is maintaining those healthy relationships that are so important for their well-being. Bipolar has the potential to cause strain on the people inside a person’s support network.
Health professionals are finding that family therapy that focuses on helping relatives problem solve and communicate with their loved ones can effectively ease the strain that mental illness can cause inside a support network and family. People experiencing bipolar’s effects often do and say things that can be hard to understand and cope with. That’s where the help of a professional comes in. A third party can help everyone involved understand and communicate with each other.
Some of the challenging side effects of bipolar include reckless behavior, gambling, spending sprees, casual sex with strangers and becoming violent, both to themselves or others. These actions are oftentimes followed by dramatic lows and feelings of guilt and depression. For family members and members of their support network it can be hard to keep up with the changing needs of someone with bipolar, so education aids those family members in recognizing signs and familiarizing themselves with other side effects and behavior.
Another positive aspect of having an involved support system is their ability to monitor behavior. One side effect of bipolar disorder is that those with the illness tend to associate themselves with people who participate in problematic behavior, such as drinking or using drugs. It’s important for individuals with bipolar to have a loved one who knows the people they are spending time with and help determine if those friendships are healthy and not dangerous.
If family members or loved ones are not able to be available all of the time there are other options for providing those with bipolar disorder the support they need. Support groups and group therapy are incredibly helpful resources that are proven ways to ease the stress and side effects of living with bipolar disorder. This type of therapy is a positive way people with similar issues can meet regularly and connect by discussing their problems and solutions together.