- Educate yourself about your illness. If you have bipolar disorder, you should know what to expect.
- Stay on treatment, even when you are feeling well, to help keep the disease under control and reduce the chance of having recurrent, worsening episodes.
- Keep your psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner informed about how you are feeling. If you are not feeling better, you may need to try different medicines to find out what works best for you.
- When the disorder is under good control, establish a course of action with family or friends to prepare for the possibility of a future relapse to a manic or depressive episode. Some individuals with bipolar disorder may agree on a plan that will help themselves and everyone involved best cope with relapse.
- Joining a support group for people with bipolar disorder may help you cope living with this illness, its unpredictability, and the effect it may have on your loved ones.
Help a Friend
- Educate yourself. Bipolar disorder is a complicated illness and you will have many questions after your loved one is diagnosed.
- Strongly encourage your loved one to seek treatment. Sometimes you may need to take the person with bipolar disorder for proper mental health evaluation and treatment. Family physicians can also play an important role in providing referral to a mental health professional.
- Continue to encourage and support your loved one after he or she obtains treatment, for it may take a while to find the best treatment plan for each individual.
- Be ready for the unexpected. Often people with bipolar disorder do not realize how impaired they are, or they blame their problems on some cause other than mental illness. A person who is in the midst of a severe episode may need to be hospitalized for his or her own safety and for much-needed treatment. There may be times when the person must be hospitalized against his or her wishes.
- When the disorder is under good control, establish a course of action with your loved one to prepare for the possibility of a future relapse to a manic or depressive episode. Some individuals with bipolar disorder may agree ona plan that will help themselves and everyone involved best cope with relapse.
- Joining a support group may help you cope with your loved one’s sometimes serious behavioral problems, such as spending sprees during mania or extreme withdrawal from others during depression, and the lasting consequences of those behaviors.