When it comes to mental disorders like bipolar disorder, the patient isn’t the only one affected. Manic episodes can cause unpredictable and dangerous behavior, while depressive episodes can lead to lethargy and even suicidal ideation.
If you have concerns about a loved one’s mental state, the safest way to help is to approach the topic openly and encourage them to see a specialist.
At Genesis Psychiatric Solutions, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Ifeanye Olele can consult with your loved one and help diagnose them with bipolar disorder if that is truly what is causing their symptoms.
Signs that a loved one may be bipolar
In many cases, people with undiagnosed bipolar disorder are not self-aware and might not notice the patterns in their behavior. This is why it’s important to educate yourself and learn to recognize the signs.
From the outside, a manic episode might manifest as:
- Periods of increased energy or irritability
- Exaggerated sense of self
- Poor decision-making, such as shopping sprees or sexual flings
- Speaking quickly, with many tangents
A depressive episode presents with different symptoms, such as:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Feelings of excessive worthlessness or guilt
- Significant decrease or increase in appetite
- Mentioning, planning, or attempting suicide
Diagnosing someone with a mental condition does not involve checking boxes off a list, but rather a thorough, personal evaluation by a specialist. Don’t try to armchair-diagnose your loved one. Instead, encourage them to seek help themselves.
What you can do
When dealing with a bipolar loved one, you might feel powerless to help them. This is not the case. By educating yourself and encouraging their treatment, you can be a positive force in their life.
Here are a few tips to help you support the bipolar people in your life:
Listen to their fears and worries
Many people with bipolar disorder feel unheard, which is why it’s important to hear them out and address their concerns.
Learn from valid sources
Misconceptions about bipolar disorder are everywhere, so get your information from actual studies and specialists.
Loop them in
People with bipolar disorder sometimes withdraw during depressive episodes, so continue inviting and including them in your plans.
Make allowances for mistakes
No one is perfect, and people with bipolar disorder are more likely to slip up in social situations and interactions, so try to be forgiving.
Encourage them to seek help
Medication, psychotherapy, and counseling can help them manage their symptoms and achieve their goals.
Living with bipolar disorder is difficult, but going through it alone makes it twice as hard. Stick around and support your bipolar friends and family, even when they act harshly or say things they don’t mean.
How an expert can help
If your loved one is interested in moving forward with treatment, do your best to support their decision, and make sure they get the help they need. At this stage, they need a specialist to help them navigate the diagnosis and treatment process.
At Genesis Psychiatric Solutions, we can help diagnose the different types of bipolar disorder, and help your loved one find solutions they’re comfortable with. Their treatment plan might involve:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Mood stabilizers
Besides a medication regimen, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can help your loved one understand their behaviors and develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with their symptoms.
Do you suspect a loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder? Get in touch with our team by calling the location closest to you or requesting a consultation online.
We have multiple offices located in Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, California; and Boca Raton, Florida.