Bipolar and Caregivers

Bipolar disorder can affect not only the person with the diagnosis, but also those who provide care and love. While the demands of caregiving are often not easy, know that a caregiver’s support and perseverance can have an enormous impact on a loved one’s treatment and recovery. Also, be reassured that, although the lifestyle changes associated with bipolar are real, caregivers and those with the diagnosis often find new ways to live productive and fulfilling lives.   Caregiving experiences and the impacts on daily life will all differ. This is an extensive resource and a compassionate community providing advice and insight, trusted information and practical help for: spouses, partners, family members, friends, parents of adult children and children of aging parents. Find helpful coping strategies to help manage symptoms, develop boundaries, and maintain a sense of balance, joy, and hope.

Blogs and Articles

Reciprocal Relationships: Parenting Your Adult Child While Meeting Your Needs

Julie A. Fast
March 21, 2019

When supporting adult children with bipolar, parents often subsume their own needs—making a relationship in which both sides have their needs met impossible. You’re supporting an adult child with bipolar. What are your needs? This is the most important question I ask parents in my coaching practice. Parents are used to talking about what the...

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How to Cope when the Bank Account Is Spent

bp Magazine
March 19, 2019

Out-of-control spending during mania can be a destructive symptom of bipolar, and can devastate a family’s financial security; here’s how to help navigate this road: Understand the diagnosis It’s not uncommon for people without bipolar to be financially irresponsible and overspend, live beyond their means, and wind up in bankruptcy. However, as caregivers, we need...

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Is It the Marriage or the Bipolar Diagnosis?

bp Magazine
March 19, 2019

In times of stability, it can be difficult—and painful—to determine if there are real problems with your relationship or if bipolar symptoms are the culprit; find out more: Interpreting the symptoms Even after years of stability, a stressful event or a build-up of stress can cause an onset of symptoms. These may be too subtle...

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5 Ways to Help Save Your Family Finances

bp Magazine
March 19, 2019

Irrational and impulsive spending is a byproduct of bipolar; before a spouse’s compulsion to spend harms the family bank account, try these financial responsibility strategies: Work it out together During a stable time, sit down with your spouse and work through a strategic financial plan. Consider consulting with a financial advisor to help with both...

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5 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

bp Magazine
March 19, 2019

Caring for a loved one can sometimes lead to high stress, exhaustion and being overwhelmed, what is commonly known as caregiver burnout; here’s how to help: Know the signs Burnout can come on slowly. It can start showing up as apathy, depression, irritability, sleeplessness, appetite changes, lack of personal care, and difficulty dealing with stressful...

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4 Ways to Treat Empathy Fatigue

bp Magazine
March 18, 2019

As a caregiver, if you’re experiencing the emotional exhaustion and physical symptoms related to compassion/empathy fatigue, here’s what you can do to help: Lessen your load Start small until you can work out a plan for some time off. Start with a half-day off on a regular basis. Though it’s not always easy or even...

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When Caregiving Turns to Codependence

bp Magazine
March 18, 2019

Often misunderstood, codependence can be the cause of a great deal of distress while taking care of a loved one with bipolar; here’s what you need to know: It doesn’t mean what you think According to Diana Denholm, PhD, LMHC, a psychotherapist for more than 30 years, co-dependency is highly misunderstood and usually poorly defined....

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How to Prevent Compassion Fatigue

bp Magazine
March 14, 2019

While knowing how to treat compassion fatigue is important, perhaps more relevant is learning how to prevent it; find out how to keep empathy strong: What is it? At its core, compassion fatigue refers to the gradual decline in feelings of sympathy and empathy for the person you’re supporting—the opposite of what you want to...

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How to Care for Your Friend with Bipolar

bp Magazine
March 14, 2019

If someone you know and love is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it may seem overwhelming; but there are ways you can help your friend in need: Learn first Taking the time to research this diagnosis is the perfect first step. By educating yourself, you’ll know what to expect regarding symptoms, possible triggers, or warning signs...

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Ways to Help a Partner With Bipolar Depression

bp Magazine
March 14, 2019

It can be extremely challenging, even heartbreaking, being the caregiver of a loved one with bipolar depression; here are some simple things to keep in mind: Educate yourself By learning about the specific symptoms of bipolar depression, you will come to realize that certain symptoms are simply caused by the condition; they are not personal...

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How Do You Know You Have Compassion Fatigue?

bp Magazine
March 13, 2019

Over time, you can develop a chronic, low-level cloud surrounding the care you give, but when recognized early, you can break through the fog. Emotional exhaustion This is a state of feeling drained and emotionally worn out. It can often feel intense and overwhelming, and as if you are trapped in a situation that you...

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Top 5 Upsides of Living with Someone Who Has Bipolar

bp Magazine
March 12, 2019

At the risk of romanticizing a serious mental health condition, there are indeed many positive aspects to loving someone with bipolar. Here are just five: #1 An artistic/creative lens Being around people with imaginativeness and artistry is fascinating! Through her research, Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, a professor with Johns Hopkins University, has linked bipolar with...

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When Inconsistency Becomes a Way of Life

bp Magazine
March 12, 2019

When a spouse or partner has bipolar disorder, we may need to accept that life will be unpredictable, and then find ways to adapt. Adjusting to new realities A loved one’s diagnosis will affect the entire household. All family members will need to adjust to this new normal, a life likely full of inconsistency. Living...

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After 30-Year Marriage, This Wife Keeps Her Focus on Courage

bp Magazine
December 14, 2018

While they have both dealt with turbulent times, Christina* and her husband find inspiration in their faith and encourage others to stay hopeful in their marriages.     Please tell us a little about your journey… My husband and I have been married for 30 years and have been through many dark times. The worst...

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How Dealing With Bipolar Made This Young Couple Stronger

bp Magazine
December 14, 2018

In their early 20s, *Emily and Sean have lived together for over two years; the engaged couple shares their positive journey with Sean’s bipolar:     EMILY: What does caregiving in your household look like? Caring for Sean has never been a burden for me. For a while, Sean had trouble keeping a job, just...

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Couple Learned Patience & Understanding Through Search for Husband’s Diagnosis

bp Magazine
December 14, 2018

While “Satur-dates” together help to strengthen Sharon and Clayton’s* marriage, having a good support system and the right doctor help manage bipolar symptoms.   Did you know that your husband had a mood disorder or struggled with moods when you met him? When I met my husband in high school for the first time, I...

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When Your Loved One Can’t Get Out of Bed

bp Magazine
December 14, 2018

Just getting out of bed can be one of the biggest challenges for your loved one; find out how you can support them through bipolar depression:   Know what you’re dealing with It is through knowledge that you’ll have continued compassion to help your loved one. Make sure you are intimately educated on everything about...

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What To Do When Someone You Love is Diagnosed With Bipolar

bp Magazine
December 14, 2018

While finally getting a diagnosis of bipolar disorder may come as a relief, it’s also loaded with questions as to where to go from here:   Understand the diagnosis Both you and your spouse finally have an explanation for the confusion of ever-changing moods and an array of other symptoms. And now you also have...

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Walking On Eggshells When Your Partner is Struggling With a Mood Episode

bp Magazine
December 14, 2018

Living with the unhealthy stress of waiting for the “next shoe to drop” can be managed; here’s what you can do about it:   What it feels like Life can feel like you’re walking on eggshells if your partner is struggling in a current episode of either mania or depression. You try to do everything...

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The Ultimate Guide to Giving Up Caregiver Guilt

bp Magazine
December 14, 2018

Guilt is a common emotion for those caring for someone with bipolar disorder; read on for some ways on how to tame the blame game:   Self-imposed guilt This can stem from us believing that we’re not doing enough, we’ve done something wrong, or we shouldn’t have specific thoughts or emotions. Excessive guilt can be...

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