Caring for someone with bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness where an individual experiences extreme mood swings – from high to low, and low to high. These phases of mania and depression eventually can also take a toll on a caregiver.
What a caregiver should know about dealing with bipolar disorder
Given the unpredictable nature of someone suffering from bipolar disorder, a caregiver has to learn to expect the unexpected. Their mind constantly appears to be in the fight-flight-freeze response mode (a stress response that helps one react to perceived threats). As a result, they are also likely to experience trauma and may also need counseling and therapy. Reaching out to a support group of caregivers can also make a difference according to clinical psychologist Seema Hingorani. Below, she shares some pointers that a caregiver should keep in mind.
- Get an expert to diagnose the condition
Even if you suspect that the person you are caring for is suffering from bipolar disorder, ensure you approach a mental health expert to get the condition diagnosed.
- Draw boundaries with them but avoid getting into arguments
This is easier said than done. However, it’s vital that you draw boundaries and avoid arguments with someone suffering from bipolar disorder. Don’t make this about yourself, and avoid lashing out at them.
- Don’t call them names in anger
You have to learn to keep calm, and avoid calling them names and blaming their mental condition for their mood swings. Understand that this is something they have no control over.
- Ensure that they do not avoid therapy or prescribed medication
It’s vital that an individual suffering from bipolar disorder goes to therapy, and takes the medication prescribed.
- If you find yourself getting agitated or triggered step out for a while
Taking yourself away from a tense situation, going for a walk for a bit, can help you calm down.
- Seek therapy and support if you need it
Caring for a loved suffering from a mental illness can take a toll on you physically and emotionally. Hence, it’s important to join a support group and to seek individual therapy to help you cope better.