Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings, or depression and mania. The depression stage is marked by suicidal ideation as well as thoughts of self-harm, the inability to function, and loss of sleep and appetite. The manic stage is marked by racing, uncontrollable thoughts, periods of little to no sleep, speaking very fast, and reckless behavior.
Bipolar disorder isn't hard on just the person who has it, it is also hard on the family of that person. That's why the family members and friends of people who have bipolar disorder want to know how to help someone with bipolar disorder.
Here are a few suggestions on how to help a family member who happens to have bipolar disorder.
Get educated. There are a lot of myths and a lot of misinformation out there about bipolar disorder. The best thing anyone can do to help their loved one who has bipolar disorder is to learn the truth about it. The more you know, the more you can help advocate for your friend.
Be patient and supporting. Remember that your loved one doesn't want to feel this way and they have very little control over what is happening in their bodies. Even when they are getting on medication it can take some time to get the right medications at the right dose. Yelling and blaming a person with bipolar disorder doesn't help them get better.
Urge them to get help. This may be the most important step. People who are in a manic state don't always realize that they need help. They just figure that they feel good and don't need anything, especially medications. This is the time that they will need the most help because they aren't rational at this point.
These are just three of the best ways to help someone who has bipolar disorder. There are additional resources to help someone with bipolar disorder, whether it is a loved one or oneself. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is a good place to start. They will have support groups for families as well as lists of mental health professionals.
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