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What is the Impact of Bipolar Disorder on the Family?

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health disorder that requires long term, professional treatment, but what is the impact of bipolar disorder on family? A person diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences cycles of both mania and depression. The emotional swings of bipolar disorder can take a severe toll on family members. It can create tension in relationships with bipolar parents or children. Given the impact of how bipolar disorder affects family members it is critical that not only the diagnosed individual seek treatment, but their loved ones also seek care too. 

The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

People often believe that the only person who suffers due to mental illness is the individual who has been diagnosed. In all actuality this is proven to be rarely true. Bipolar disorder can be particularly difficult for family members due to the cycling nature of the diagnosed individual. Family members can never become accustomed to one state of their bipolar loved one. They are constantly dealing with the cycles of depression and mania.

Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression is characterized by the emotional “lows” that a bipolar individual experiences. Bipolar depression can often cause feelings of hopelessness and even suicidal ideations. The symptoms of Bipolar depression include:

  • Feeling empty and hopeless
  • Lack of motivation
  • Suicidal ideations, thoughts, and plans
  • Sleeping or lethargy during the day, but experiencing insomnia at night
  • Inability to find happiness in activities that the individual usually enjoys
  • Isolation and lack of socialization

Symptoms of Bipolar Mania and Hypomania 

Bipolar mania is the extreme opposite of Bipolar depression. In fact, bipolar mania is considered to be the emotional “highs” of the disorder cycle. Bipolar mania includes feelings of euphoria and invincibility. Mania often leads to a lack of impulse control and poor decision making. The symptoms of Bipolar mania include:

  • Extreme amounts of energy and a sensation of euphoria
  • High levels of self confidence and arrogance 
  • Feeling invincible 
  • Poor impulse control 
  • Irritability 
  • Restlessness
  • Irrational decision making

The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on Family

It is easy to review the symptoms of bipolar disorder and understand the negative impact it can have on family members and loved ones. The rapid cycling of a bipolar individual can create massive amounts of tension in a household. Family members may get frustrated when trying  to unsuccessfully talk an individual out of impulsive decision making while in a manic state. A bipolar individual experiencing mania could also make decisions that could impact the entire family, such as impulsive spending. 

Bipolar depression can be equally defeating for family members. Bipolar depression can also be extremely scary. Individuals often become consumed with their own suffering, guilt, and emotional pain. They are normally unable to be present in their relationships and go into extreme isolation. Another terrifying aspect of bipolar depression is the potential for individuals to self harm and even commit suicide. The isolation, potential self harm, and self centered tendencies of bipolar depression can create fear and resentment within the family dynamics. 

Overall, the extreme symptoms of Bipolar Disorder make it extremely difficult for family members to create and maintain a genuine, authentic, and loving relationship with the individual who is suffering. 

How Bipolar Disorder Affects Family Members 

Rarely does mental illness only affect the diagnosed individual, normally it has a ripple effect onto loved ones and family members. Due to the instability of a Bipolar individual family members can be affected in a multitude of ways. Here are some of the ways in which bipolar disorder affects family members, loved ones, and friends:

Financial Effects

Family members often feel responsible to financially support their loved one who is diagnosed as bipolar. The disorder can affect the individual’s ability to earn an income and function properly in a working environment. Statistically family members of bipolar individuals spend about 231% more on mental health care and they are also burdened with about 7% higher physical health care costs as well. Excessive spending is also a symptom of bipolar mania and families are often left covering the debts incurred throughout a manic episode. Potentially, bipolar disorder can leave the entire family in debt and create stress due to financial insecurities.

Physical Effects

Family members and loved ones are normally the caregivers for those diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Due to the extreme highs and lows of Bipolar individuals and the amount of healthcare they require, it can take a huge toll on the caregivers physical health. The family members that act as caregivers often have poor sleep patterns, unhealthy diets, exhibit signs of depression, and due to the stress may even have a weaker immune system. Due to the stressful nature of being a caregiver, the family member’s physical body suffers over time.

Emotional Effects

Family members who are caregivers will not only suffer physically, but also emotionally. Being responsible for a Bipolar individual is extremely emotionally taxing for the caregiver. Caregivers often experience their own mental health struggles with depression, anxiety, and stress. The emotional effects can also create unhealthy physical side effects for the caregivers as well. The burden of the caregiver comes at a high cost and is one of the many ways bipolar disorder affects families. 

Why Therapy Is Important For Families Dealing With The Effects of Bipolar Disorder

The most important thing for individuals suffering from mania and depression cycles is to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is commonly misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety. Therefore, it is extremely important for families to be educated and aware of the signs of Bipolar disorder. 

Families and loved ones should be involved in the diagnosed individuals therapeutic process. Those suffering from Bipolar disorder extremely benefit if they feel supported throughout their treatment plan by family and loved ones. Family members also need to learn coping skills and how to best help their loved one who is struggling with Bipolar Disorder. 

Bipolar Disorder Treatment In Tennessee

Dealing with Bipolar disorder can dramatically impact your life and the lives of your family and loved ones in a multitude of ways. At Arbor, we understand that both the Bipolar individual and their family require therapeutic and supportive treatment. We help both the individual struggling with their mental health and their families begin to live more fulfilling, stable, and peaceful lives.

At Arbor, we understand the importance of healing as a family unit. Families are encouraged to be involved in the therapeutic process every step of the way. We offer family programming as well as a multitude of family resources. Do not waste any more time struggling as a family with the instability and stress of Bipolar disorder. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about how Arbor can help both your loved one and your family begin to heal.