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Friends and Family with Bipolar Disorder

There are several symptoms to bipolar disorder that are often attributed to mood swings or disregarded as insignificant. However, manic depression is a severe disorder that can drastically impact a person's life and stability. It can also be very difficult to handle for the loved ones of the person with the illness.

People who are close to a person with manic depressive disorder can take the symptoms of the illness personally, when really there are neurons in the person's brain that induce them to act a certain way that is out of their control.

It is hard to see that sometimes though, especially when there are emotions involved. It can also be difficult not to fall into the same mood swings as the patient has. Bipolar marriages, bipolar pregnancies, and bipolar families are all very difficult to deal with. Listed ahead are a few tips indication how you can treat a loved one with the disorder.

To start, you can simply be there for them. Give them a shoulder to cry on or just listen while they spill out their hearts to you. Be patient with them. Let them know that you care. Share the things you have learned while researching depression. Let them know it is not their fault, that they are not weak or worthless.

Offer hope in whatever form they will accept it. This could be their faith in God, their love of their children, or anything else that makes them want to go on living. Find what works best for them and remind them of it whenever they're not sure they can hang on any longer. If they're suicidal, you may need to seek immediate help. There are some very valuable suicide resources on the Internet that will help you to help your loved cope with suicidal feelings as well.

Medications and therapy are crucial to their recovery. Help keep them on track with treatment. Help to ease their fears about treatment by letting them know that they're not crazy. In addition, you have to simply love them unconditionally and let someone know it is their illness you're frustrated with, not them.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Learn what depression feels like, the misconceptions about mental illness that they must deal with, and get the facts about what depression really is.

Educate yourself.

There are countless sites on the Internet where you can learn about depression, it's symptoms, and treatment. My Depression FAQ is an excellent starting place. Learn about informed consent and the legal aspects of treatment in your state. Read up on disability law as it applies to the mentally ill.

It's okay to feel upset, angry, frustrated. These feelings are a valid response to a very trying situation. Join a support group, talk with a close friend, or see a therapist. The important thing is vent your frustrations rather than allowing them to build up inside. Also, quite simply, make sure you take care of yourself. Feelings of depression are contagious. Periodically take some time to step back from the situation and recharge your batteries.

Remember that the depressed person's behavior isn't indicative of the "real" person. The depressed person has impaired social skills. They may be withdrawn and shy or sullen and angry. When the depressed person lashes out in anger, it's because they're actually angry with themselves and the way they feel. You just happen to be there. When your spouse or significant other doesn't feel like having sex, don't take it personally. Loss of sex drive is a classic symptom of depression. It doesn't mean they don't love you.

Depressed people aren't lazy. They're ill. Everyday activities like cleaning house, paying bills, or feeding the dog may seem overwhelming to them. You may have to take up the slack for them for awhile. Just like if they had the flu, they simply don't feel up to it.

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