Helping a loved one manage bipolar disorder

Managing bipolar disorder is difficult not just for the patient but for the caregiver as well. In fact, the situation is more challenging for the caregiver as he or she could never be sure of how the sufferer would behave the next moment.

Characterized by severe mood swings, people with bipolar disorder are highly unpredictable because of the switch between extreme moods. In case of extreme highs and lows, the condition may be referred to as manic depression or bipolar depression.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) highlights that bipolar disorder affects an estimated 2.9 percent American population annually, with 83 percent being severe cases. However, the good news is that bipolar disorder can be managed with holistic treatment. While timely treatment and right medication can help in the recovery, family and friends can provide the emotional support needed to resume a normal life.

Here are a few suggestions for family and friends of patients of bipolar disorder that can help them take better care of their loved ones:

Trying to be in their shoes: To be able to take care of people with bipolar disorder, it is important to understand their situation and acknowledge their feelings. One can read, research and inquire to understand the mental state of the person. This might help the caregiver keep his or her calm and react positively even in the most taxing situations.

Listening to them patiently: People with bipolar disorder usually display contrasting emotions simultaneously. There would be times when one may not like to pay attention to things that do make much sense. However, the caregivers still have to be patient and acknowledge what their loved one has to say. It will make them loved and wanted.

Helping them adhere to treatment plan: Adherence to the treatment plan is the key to a successful treatment outcome. Sometimes one may find it hard to administer the prescribed dose to the patients. But one should not give up easily and encourage them to stick to the treatment. In addition to this, it is important to be regular with scheduled checkups or counseling sessions.

Keeping an eye on their symptoms: People taking care of patients with bipolar disorder should be aware of the warning signs of depression or mania. They can ask the doctor about the same and can list them somewhere as the patient might need immediate medical help, in case symptoms flare up.

Getting them involved: People suffering from mental illnesses usually isolate themselves from the society and like to be aloof. This is where the personal intervention of caregivers can help sort things out by asking to participate in day-to-day activities. One can seek their company for a stroll down the lane. The idea is to engage them and make them feel belonged.

Caregivers need to care for themselves: To be able to take care of the loved ones, the caregiver needs to be healthy and happy all the time. According to a study published in Bipolar Disorders, an international journal of psychiatry and neurosciences, 89 percent caregivers experience moderate or higher burden in relation to behavioral problems in patients with bipolar disorders. Therefore, while they take care of the loved ones with complete dedication, they should also spare some time for themselves to do things that would give them pleasure and help rejuvenate.

Timely treatment important for mental illnesses

People living with any kind of mental illness need love, care and support. Bipolar disorder is like any other problem that can be treated through timely intervention. With the right treatment, medication and proper care, they can resume a normal life.

If you or your loved one is grappling with mental illnesses, contact the California Mental Health Helpline for any assistance pertaining to bipolar treatment centers in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online for further information.

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