Living with someone who has bipolar disorder can be challenging, especially when they experience changes in their behavior every night. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood, energy, activity levels, and ability to function. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression), which can last for days, weeks, or months.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.8 percent of adults in the United States.
During a manic episode, a person with bipolar disorder may feel elated, have high energy levels, and exhibit unusual behavior. They may sleep less, talk rapidly, have racing thoughts, engage in risky behavior, and become easily distracted. During a manic episode, people with bipolar disorder may feel invincible and may not think about the consequences of their actions.
A hypomanic episode is a less severe form of mania. During a hypomanic episode, a person with bipolar disorder may feel elevated, have increased energy, and be more productive than usual. They may also feel more sociable and have increased self-confidence. However, a hypomanic episode does not cause as much disruption to a person’s life as a manic episode.
During a depressive episode, a person with bipolar disorder may feel sad, hopeless, and lose interest in activities that they usually enjoy. They may also experience feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and have difficulty concentrating. A depressive episode can last for weeks or months and can make it difficult for a person to carry out daily tasks.
A mixed episode is when a person experiences both manic and depressive symptoms at the same time. This can cause a person to feel irritable, agitated, and have racing thoughts while also feeling sad, hopeless, and having a lack of energy.
Causes of Bipolar Disorder
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but research suggests that a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors may play a role. People with a family history of bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the condition. Stressful life events, substance abuse, and changes in sleep patterns may also trigger bipolar disorder.
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a treatable condition, and most people with the disorder can lead full and productive lives with the proper treatment. Treatment options for bipolar disorder include medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. Medications such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants can help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help people with bipolar disorder learn coping strategies and improve their mood. Lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol and drugs can also help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Living with a Partner with Bipolar Disorder
Living with a partner who has bipolar disorder can be challenging, but it is important to remember that the person is not their illness. Here are some tips for living with a partner with bipolar disorder:
- Learn about bipolar disorder and its symptoms.
- Encourage your partner to seek treatment and attend appointments.
- Be patient and understanding.
- Set boundaries and communicate openly.
- Take care of your own mental health.
Living with a partner who has bipolar disorder can be challenging, but with proper treatment and support, people with bipolar disorder can lead full and productive lives. It is important to remember that the person is not their illness and to educate yourself about bipolar disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, seek help from a mental health professional.