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Coping Mechanisms for the Whole Family - Bipolar Disorder

At times, your loved one acts like the person you've always known.

Other times, your loved one acts strange. He or she may seem like a different person.

Dealing with a loved one who has bipolar disorder can be hard. You may not know what to say or do. Not being able to help can be very frustrating and upsetting.

Understanding and accepting bipolar disorder

Before learning how to cope, you must first understand what bipolar disorder is and how it affects a person.

Bipolar disorder is a serious brain or manic-depressive illness that causes extreme mood swings and odd behavior. Make sure that your loved one finds a provider in order to get help.

You can go along to gain a better understanding of the disorder and its related symptoms. Reading materials can also give you better insight.

After a psychiatrist makes the diagnosis, you must learn to accept the fact that your loved one has a mental illness. It may be difficult and take time to come to grips with the situation. But when you do, you can better focus on how to deal and live with it.

How to cope

Dealing with and taking care of a loved one who has bipolar disorder can cause a lot of stress. The wide-ranging mood swings your loved one goes through can also affect your mood and stress you out.

It's very important that you try to keep your stress level down so that you don't end up being on the edge yourself. These mood swings displayed by your loved one are part of their disorder and out of their control. You must learn how to be patient.

You should find stress relievers to help you release tension. Do something you enjoy. It could be exercise, going out to eat, or just spending time with friends. Doing these types of activities will help recharge your batteries. Then you can continue to support your loved one as he or she battles the issue at hand.

Also make sure that you get enough sleep and eat healthy. You need to stay well yourself. Otherwise, you won't be able to take care of your loved one.

People with bipolar disorder may also engage in possible dangerous behavior. They may drink or use drugs. Reach out to your local Al-Anon organization to find the best way to support a loved one who drinks too much or uses drugs.

Don't do it alone

Lean on other family members and friends for comfort and guidance. You can also join a support group to connect with families dealing with the same situation as you through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Talking about things will help you realize that you are not alone.