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Caring for Someone with Bipolar Disorder

May 16, 2024

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition that affects millions worldwide, presenting unique challenges for both individuals and those who care for them.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, bipolar disorder...

“...is a mental illness that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration. These shifts can make it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks.”

Let’s explore the nuances of bipolar disorder, its impact on familial relationships, and the role home care services can play in managing this condition. Whether you're a family caregiver or friend, learn how to navigate the challenges of bipolar disorder with empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, involves extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that can impair daily functioning. These mood episodes range from manic highs, where a person feels overly happy and energized, to depressive lows, where feelings of sadness and hopelessness dominate.

Understanding how a person with bipolar thinks during these phases helps loved ones anticipate their needs and support them effectively.

Bipolar Disorder and Relationships

Caring for someone with bipolar disorder requires knowledge of bipolar relationships. The condition does not only affect the individual but also those around them.

Here are some ways you can support your loved one with bipolar disorder:

  • Keep an open line of communication. Ask open-ended questions, listen to their responses, and do not judge or try to “fix” their feelings.
  • Learn triggers and warning signs. Recognizing the early signs and triggers of mood episodes, and pointing them out to your loved one, can help avoid severe episodes. Remain calm and supportive when you remind your loved one of what you notice.
  • Make a plan for challenging moments. Discuss ways to support your loved one during a mood episode. Mind.org has some helpful tips:
  • Note what has worked in the past, to mitigate episodes.
  • Agree on code words or signs that they are struggling.
  • Offer a second opinion about commitments to help them consider whether they take on too much.
  • Help them manage money.
  • Help them keep a routine, including regular meals and sleeping patterns.
  • Develop a crisis plan.
  • Discuss how they want you to treat them during and after an episode.
  • Stay calm. If someone is experiencing an episode, stay calm and help them with breathing or relaxation techniques. Acknowledge their feelings, even if they are not based on reality.
  • Try not to take their behavior personally. Taking care of yourself and detaching your emotions from the situation can be helpful.

Role of Home Care in Managing Bipolar Disorder

Home care services can provide support to those with bipolar disorder, helping to stabilize the environment and manage daily tasks. Home care tasks can include:

  • Medication reminders
  • Emotional support
  • Forming a crucial support system for loving someone with bipolar disorder

If your spouse has bipolar disorder, you may not qualify to be paid to provide home care services for them. However, you can still connect with a home care agency such as Best Care to check your eligibility and get connected with other options for hiring a Personal Care Assistant (PCA). We want to help you with the challenging aspects of caring for a bipolar spouse.

Whether offering direct services or providing information on navigating PCA services, Best Care supports all your family caregiving needs.

Woman hugging husband with bipolar disorder.
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