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Helping a Loved One with Bipolar Disorder

Helping a Loved One with Bipolar Disorder

When one of your loved ones has bipolar disorder, you may find it challenging to offer support while also dealing with the ups and downs that tend to characterize life with this disorder. With a little bit of education and assistance, you can effectively offer support to them — and also make life a bit easier for you, too.

Finding the right treatment plan for them will make everyone’s lives easier. The providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center explain more about how to help loved ones with bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a common form of mental illness that affects nearly 5.7 million adult Americans. Your loved one is certainly not alone in dealing with it. And the best news is that it’s very treatable.

Bipolar disorder means that the person lives with both debilitating depression and some form of mania. Some people have full-blown manic episodes — during which they may engage in dangerous and self-destructive habits — which is called bipolar I. 

It’s also possible to have bipolar disorder without experiencing manic episodes (hypomanic); this form of the disorder is called bipolar II. It’s often harder to diagnose because the person doesn’t experience self-destructive habits, but it can be just as difficult to deal with as bipolar I.

Any type of bipolar disorder will have a significant impact on both the individual themselves and their loved ones.

How to treat bipolar disorder

Treating bipolar disorder is often a bit of a complicated ordeal. The treatment usually calls for a combination of medications and therapy. Because it requires both an antidepressant and an antipsychotic to stabilize their moods, that means two different classes of medications have to be tried until you find the ones that work.

Medication treatment

Medications are essential in treating bipolar disorder. This can sometimes be difficult, because people who have bipolar disorder often don’t want to stay on their medications. 

You want to find the most effective treatments with the most tolerable side effects. But sometimes people who are doing well on their medications decide that they’re doing well enough that they can skip taking their medications to avoid the side effects. That usually leads to a relapse.

Antidepressants are one of the essential medications for treating bipolar disorder. We have a wide variety of potential antidepressants that we can use, so if your loved one doesn’t respond well to the first one we try, we can always try others.

Antipsychotics are the other essential component of treating bipolar disorder. This drug name doesn’t mean that your loved one is necessarily “psychotic"; that’s just the class of drugs that stabilizes their mood and makes them capable of controlling their behavior.


Most of our patients have individual therapy as well as group counseling, and most also see a psychiatrist to manage their medications. This may seem like a lot of therapy, but each different type plays an important role in helping your loved one learn how to manage their condition and stay well.

Individual therapy allows your loved one to sort through their personal struggles and learn new ways of coping with stressors. Stress often tips the balance from being able to handle the challenges of life to lapsing back into behaviors associated with bipolar disorder.

Seeing a psychiatrist is essential to help your loved one find the right dosages of the correct medications that work for them.

And group counseling allows your loved one to learn that they’re not alone. Many of the other group members have similar issues that they can learn from, and group counseling also provides friendships with other people that often last long beyond their time in treatment.

If your loved one has bipolar disorder, you probably want nothing more than to help them learn how to manage their lives more effectively. The best support you can offer them is to get them into treatment. Call the providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center today, or request an appointment online.

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