Bipolar Disorder: How to Support a Spouse with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder: How to Support a Spouse with Bipolar Disorder

By: Isabelle Siegel

Bipolar Disorder is characterized by alternating manic (“elevated, expansive, or irritable mood”) and depressive (“depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in life”) episodes. The disorder causes significant suffering for the individual diagnosed, as well as his/her loved ones. It can be extremely difficult to support a partner or spouse with Bipolar Disorder, but it is possible with the right mindset and preemptive actions.

Develop an understanding of Bipolar Disorder and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. Psych Central suggests creating a list of warning signs that your partner/spouse starts to exhibit before or while entering a manic or depressive episode. This will help you to better understand your partner/spouse, as well as enable you to interpret his/her behaviors in the context of the disorder.

Learn what helps (and what does not help) when your partner/spouse is in a manic or depressive episode. When your partner/spouse is stable, work together to create a list of actions you can take to alleviate symptoms when he/she is in a manic or depressive episode.

Communicate. As cliche as it sounds, open communication is integral to maintaining a relationship with someone who has Bipolar Disorder. It is important that each partner/spouse feels heard and validated at all times.

During manic or depressive episodes, understand your partner’s/spouse’s behavior in the context of the disorder. During episodes, it is important to view your partner’s/spouse’s actions and words as symptoms of a disorder rather than as reflective of his/her true feelings. If your partner/spouse says something hurtful, for example, try to understand the role that the disorder is playing in causing this behavior.

Allow yourself to feel frustration, upset, or any other emotion. Understand that Bipolar Disorder is an illness and that it is normal for difficult or conflicting emotions to arise. Do not feel guilty for feeling frustrated, upset, angry, resentful, or even for wanting to leave your partner/spouse at times. All of these feelings are normal.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support and never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs. It can be beneficial to seek therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health and to work through difficult emotions.

If you or a loved one needs support and help understanding yourself and/or a family member, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
https://psychcentral.com/blog/helping-your-partner-manage-bipolar-disorder/
https://www.nami.org/personal-stories/living-with-someone-with-bipolar-disorder
https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/relationship-guide
https://www.psycom.net/bipolar-definition-dsm-5/

Image Source:
https://medium.com/@christinacare/a-guide-to-supporting-a-partner-in-therapy-f0d64575558

Bipolar One Vs. Bipolar Two

By: Yael Berger

Bipolar, also known as manic depression, is a mood disorder characterized by extreme highs and extreme lows. Extreme highs are called mania while the extreme lows are called depression. It is seen in both adults and children and tends to run in the family. If you have a close relative with Bipolar disorder, you have an increased chance of developing the disorder. According to the national institute of mental health, “an estimated 4.4% of U.S adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.” There are two different types of Bipolar that are often difficult to distinguish between.

Bipolar I patients commonly present with these symptoms:

  • An episode of extreme mania lasting at least one week and usually an episode of severe depression lasting at least two weeks
    • Mania is characterized by irritability, mood swings, and possibly excessive spending, drinking, excessive sexual behavior etc.
  • Less need for sleep
  • Increased self-esteem, speech, thoughts, distractibility
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Can have a break with reality
    • Hallucinations, delusional or paranoid thoughts
  • Usual onset: around 18 years old

Bipolar II patients commonly present with these symptoms:

  • An episode of hypomania lasting at least four days and always accompanied by an episode of extreme depression lasting at least two weeks
  • Hypomania is a milder form of mania but it is still noticeable to others
  • Typically are prescribed antidepressants with mood stabilizers
  • Usual onset: around mid-20s

There are a few key differences between bipolar I and bipolar II. The main difference is that Bipolar I often begins with mania while Bipolar II often begins as a depressive episode that is later diagnosed when an episode of hypomania occurs. Bipolar II is sometimes wrongly diagnosed as depression at first because it often starts as a depressive episode. Bipolar I is usually obvious and severely disrupts a patient’s life while Bipolar II can be less noticeable. However, once a hypomanic episode in Bipolar II patient causes severe impairment it would then be categorized as Bipolar I. Bipolar I can lead to hospitalization more often than Bipolar II because of the extreme mania that occurs. A combination of medication and therapy can help both Bipolar I and II.

If you or someone you know has any type of Bipolar Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-1-vs-bipolar-2#symptoms

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201901/10-things-know-about-bipolar-disorder

Image:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319280.php