Mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, are typically considered “no-casserole” diseases. It means that unlike other health conditions, such as cancer or physical injuries, people are hesitant to provide support by bringing casseroles or other forms of help and comfort. Sometimes, it is not that people do not want to help, rather, they are not sure how to do so.
Here are a few tips in providing support for loved ones suffering from bipolar disorder are the following:
Learn about the illness
As they say, “knowing is half the battle.” By learning about bipolar disorder, one can be better equipped to handle the symptoms, especially since these occur unpredictably. Most of the time, those who suffer from it cannot see clearly or deny that they are experiencing symptoms, so discerning warning signs would be helpful.
Be patient and understanding
Sometimes, what bipolar disorder patients need, in addition to treatments, are sympathetic ears and encouraging words. But dealing with them can be difficult, especially when they want to be alone. It is important to know when to give them space or when to talk or spend time with them. Remember also that managing the illness is a lifelong process.
Know when to seek help
Some people with bipolar disorder can be destructive, violent, or suicidal. When these behaviors flare up, ask for professional assistance to make sure that everyone is safe.
Jonathan B. Lauter, M.D. is an accomplished psychiatrist who maintains a private practice in Manhattan and serves as a clinician at Refuah Health Center in Spring Valley, NY. For more information about mental illnesses, click here.