5 Ways To Support A Loved One Who Has Bipolar Disorder

Here Are 5 Ways You Can Help Your Partner

1. Listen

You may be tempted to tell your family member or friend how to “fix” their problems. But sometimes, you need to do more listening. Your loved one may just want to be heard and doesn’t want your opinion right now. Instead, tell her that you’re there whenever she wants to talk. She may not open up all the time, but she’ll be happy to know you’re open when she needs it.

2. Offer Encouragement

Keep in mind that people with bipolar disorder can live full, successful lives. Let your friend know that the condition doesn’t define her. It’s not a personality flaw, and she can’t just “snap out of it.” Encourage her that she can get better with treatment — especially when she sticks with it.

3. Spend Time Together

Go out together see a funny movie, or take a walk in the park. Social connections are important, especially if your loved one is depressed. She may isolate herself, which can make the problem worse. Even if she turns down your invitations, keep trying. It’ll send the message that she’s important to you. She’ll probably appreciate your efforts and may eventually say yes.

4. Be a Partner in Treatment

Don’t let your girlfriend one go it alone. Your support can help her succeed in treatment. Offer to be involved in any way she wants you to be. You can help her:

  • Find good doctors or therapists
  • Set appointments and go along
  • Track her progress

Encourage her to keep taking medications. Some people stop when they feel better or because of side effects. If the medicine is bothering her, ask the doctor if another one may help.

5. Take Care of Yourself, Too

When someone in your life is bipolar, it can take a toll on your emotions. Caregivers can get depressed or have other health problems. If you don’t pay attention to your own needs, you can get burned out. Try to carve out some regular “me time” to clear your head. Paint, listen to music, or do something else you love. Have lunch or dinner with friends. And don’t feel guilty about it. You can’t support your loved one if you’re not well.

Any questions, queries or concerns please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email. mhcoachingonline@gmail.com


Bipolar Disorder: Are Fluctuating Hormone Levels Making Your Symptoms Worse

Good day to my all followers and readers!

As a woman menstrual cycle and PMS are things we women do not like speaking about. For me its my least favorite topic. From cramps, mood swings, sugary cravings among other symptoms. When that dreadful week is over everything is back to normal. However, this is not so for women who have bipolar disorder, the menstrual cycle can make their bipolar disorder symptoms worse. Below I have outlined possible reasons why this is so.

Bipolar disorder is considered a mood spectrum disorder, a condition that shifts moods from on extreme to the other. Hormone levels may also cause rapid or extreme mood changes. This is very important especially for women who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as unbalanced hormones can trigger a bipolar episode.

Why does PMS make Bipolar Disorder Worst?

For some women bipolar disorder symptoms seem to get worse around their period. I thought it would be important to include it here in my blog. Recently, someone asked me “Why does my bipolar symptoms seem to get worse around my period”? The answer is possibly fluctuating hormones which are very common around a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Research on the issue has indicated that Estrogen and progesterone are female hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle and likely serve an important role in the regulation of mood. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) which affects 75% of healthy women is a cyclic pattern of mild dysphoria and physical discomfort that begin 1-2 weeks pre-menses, and resolve by 2-3 days post-onset of menses.

Up to 66% of women with bipolar disorder (BD) describe premenstrual mood changes that range from mild symptoms to severe worsening that require hospitalization. Therefore, the hormonal shifts of the menstrual cycle likely influence bipolar symptoms, but confirmatory research is lacking.

Increased symptoms around the menstrual cycle

Women with bipolar disorder experience:

  • More episodes related to their bipolar disorder, most commonly depressive episodes
  • less time between episodes
  • More severe symptoms (including depressive, manic and hypomanic episodes)

Women who have premenstrual symptoms which exacerbate their symptoms of bipolar disorder have a worse course of illness, a shorter time to relapse, and more severe bipolar symptoms. In a retrospective study of 2,524 women, 65.1% of women with bipolar I and 70.5% of bipolar II reported increased premenstrual mood symptoms. Not only is mood affected, but also the effectiveness of medication.

Effects on Medication

Laura Miller, MD, a professor at Harvard Medical School, said there have been case reports of dramatic changes in lithium’s potency across the menstrual cycle. She witnessed this in one of her patients that was vigilant in taking her medication. The woman reported mild psychotic symptoms and mania several days prior to menstruation. Miller investigated the woman’s lithium levels through a blood test. Her lithium level was 0.6 before menstruation, and 1.1 afterward, further demonstrating the menstrual cycle’s impact on medication and treatment.

Any questions, queries or concerns, please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email. mhcoachingonline@gmail.com

Misdiagnosis: Bipolar Disorder are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed.

Misdiagnosis a common concern among persons with psychiatric disorders. Imagine you’re being treated for a mental health condition you don’t have, which means you are missing out on important treatment that is meant for your disorder, the downside to this is that it can actually make your symptoms worse.

Disorders bipolar disorder is mistaken for

Bipolar disorder is sometimes misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder (MDD) or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). What this means is that your doctor made an incorrect diagnosis with one of these two disorders so instead of giving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder he/she gives you a diagnosis of ADHD or MDD.

Stats on the misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder

The stats in the image above is troubling

A 2006 study published in Psychiatry reported that “69 percent of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed initially and more than one-third remained misdiagnosed for 10 years or more.” The same study cited another study which found the average amount of time it took for people with bipolar disorder to get a correct diagnosis ranged from five to seven years.

Persons with bipolar disorder often seek treatment when they are in a depressive state which often leads to the disorder being misdiagnosed as depression (major depressive disorder MDD); conversely, people with bipolar disorder who are currently dealing with a manic episode may have their symptoms, such as restlessness and insomnia, misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder as well. What this mean is that your mental health care provider gave you a diagnosis of bipolar disorder when in fact you have BPD and the same goes for someone with PTSD. An incorrect diagnosis should not stop you from finding the help that you need, if you believe you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed by a mental health professional, seek a second opinion.

Incorrect medication due to incorrect diagnosis

This is very troubling because the incorrect diagnosis can lead to incorrect treatment which can make the symptoms worst. Take for example, prescribed antidepressants which are used to treat MDD can worsen the symptoms in persons with bipolar disorder making them feel worst.

If for any reason you think you are not receiving proper treatment, or you feel you have been given an incorrect diagnosis or you will work better with another mental health professional. It’s time to start searching for another mental health professional. Don’t let this discourage you, do not give up on getting an accurate diagnosis it will definitely be worth it.

Any questions queries and concerns regarding mental illness please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email. mhcoachingonline@gmail.com

The Journey To Recovery After A Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder diagnosis

So, you have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder! And now you are wondering what’s next.

As with any diagnosis of illness whether it’s a physical or mental illness, you would be stunned, scared or possibly in denial. The first thing you should do is take time to digest the information you got from your doctor. Take time let it sink in, go home, and think about it. You do not need to rush into doing anything, when absorbing this diagnosis you must remember a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is not the end of the world there are many success stories of patients who sort help, treatment and medication, have recovered and so could you.

Learn about bipolar disorder and depression

It’s important that you learn about the bipolar disorder and depression as well. You know how you feel and you need to understand why you are feeling that way. The more you learn about bipolar disorder, the more you will understand and what this all means to you and your family.

Discuss treatment options

I highly recommend seeing a Psychiatrist for medication options and a clinical psychologist for psychotherapy. However, some psychiatrist do both medicine and psychotherapy the both are very important in the recovery process. Once you have had the chance to accept your diagnosis set up an appointment with your psychiatrist and clinical psychologist. Here you can discuss the best treatment options (medication, therapy) that works best for you. Medication is not a one size fit all, what may work for someone else may not work for you. Only a doctor should give advice concerning medication. 

You may need to make lifestyle changes as well for further information on these changes you can consult with your doctor. Make sure to ask about any side effects that the medication has. There are many medications available so be sure to ask your doctor about the pros and cons of the different kinds of medication. When your doctor recommends specific kinds of medications, ask why.

Write down your questions

After you visit to your doctor, you will most likely think of questions you didn’t ask during your session. Use a small notebook include any questions you might need to ask your doctor, you can take this with you to every doctor’s appointment to be sure you’re getting your questions answered.

From now until the end of January I will be doing blogs on bipolar disorder. I have received many request for answers on this disorder. I think it would be beneficial for those with the disorder and for people who have loved ones with the disorder.

Any questions, queries and concerns regarding mental illness please feel free to leave a comment or you can drop me an email. mhcoachingonline@gmail.com

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

One important thing to know is how mental illnesses are diagnosed and what to expect on your visit to your doctor. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mental health professional must form a diagnosis and to do this a person must first meet the diagnostic criteria for Bipolar Disorder. The diagnostic criteria is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental illnesses (DSM-5).

Have you been experiencing mental health issues and you believe you may meet the criteria for bipolar disorder and not sure what to expect on your visit to the doctor?

I cannot stress enough how important it is for you be open and honest with your doctor about your symptoms and how it’s affecting you daily. Do not be shy or ashamed, your main focus should be on treatment, recovery and healing and nothing should get in the way of taking care of you. It’s ok to ask for help, if you are nervous or if you feel you can’t do this on your own ask a trusted family member or a close friend to go with you.

3d Bipolar disorder background

In order for someone to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder first he/she must meet the criteria for diagnosis.

What to expect!

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

The most important diagnostic tool may be talking openly with the doctor about your mood swings, behaviors, and lifestyle habits.

While a physical examination can reveal a patient’s overall state of health, the doctor must hear about the bipolar signs and symptoms from the patient in order to effectively diagnose and treat bipolar disorder.

What does a doctor need to know to diagnose bipolar disorder?

bipolar disorder diagnosis is made only by taking careful note of symptoms, including their severity, length, and frequency. “Mood swings” from day to day or moment to moment do not necessarily indicate a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Rather, the diagnosis hinges on having periods of unusual elevation or irritability in mood that are coupled with increases in energy, sleeplessness, and fast thinking or speech. The patient’s symptoms are fully assessed using specific criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  (DSM-5).

In making the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the psychiatrist or other mental health expert will ask you questions about your personal and family history of mental illness and bipolar disorder or other mood disorders. Because bipolar disorder sometimes has a genetic component, family history can be helpful in making a diagnosis. (Most people with bipolar disorder, however, do not have a family history of bipolar disorder.) Also, the doctor will ask detailed questions about your bipolar symptoms. Other questions may focus on reasoning, memory, ability to express yourself, and ability to maintain relationships.

Your doctor may have you fill out a mood questionnaire or checklist to help guide the clinical interview when he or she assesses mood symptoms. In addition, your doctor may order blood and urine tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms. In a toxicology screening, blood, urine, or hair are examined for the presence of drugs. Blood tests also include a check of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level, since depression is sometimes linked to thyroid function. Now that you have gotten this far, one of the most difficult part is over, now it’s time to work on the proper treatment and medication with your therapist and psychiatrist and you’re on your way to recovery.

If you have any questions queries or concerns about bipolar disorder or any mental health issues please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email I would be happy to assist in anyway I can.

Disclaimer: I do not diagnose or treat mental illness, the information provided above is strictly for information purposes only.