Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that affects nearly 3% of the population in the United States. One of the reasons that bipolar disorder has such a powerful impact on people’s lives is that it is characterized by manic and depressive episodes, which greatly alter people’s ability to enjoy life in a stable way. If you are trying to support someone with bipolar disorder, there are some steps you can take to help them live a more productive life.
Keep in mind that bipolar disorder is a mental illness
People who battle bipolar disorder cannot control their manic or depressive episodes. Because bipolar disorder is a mental illness, it affects your family member/friend/co-worker in several ways, including her attitudes and beliefs. It is an illness that must be properly diagnosed and treated, and you need to understand that your loved one struggles with coping with the disorder on a daily basis, just as someone with diabetes or another similar medical condition must do. Telling her to cheer up or calm down is not helpful, but offering your unconditional love and support and reassurance and hope is.
Listen to the person living with bipolar disorder
One of the best ways to support someone with bipolar disorder is to listen and be empathetic. While you cannot understand what it is like to live with the disorder, you can pay attention to her fears and frustration. Her emotions and feelings affect her, and not every aspect of her life is a sign or symptom of the disorder. You need to respect her feelings and provide support and encouragement just by showing that you care.
By listening to the person living with bipolar disorder, you are more likely to be aware of changes in her attitude or behaviors that point to a manic or depressive episode. Medication and dosages sometimes need to be altered by a medical professional from time to time for people living with bipolar disorder, so you may be able to help your loved one see that it is time for a checkup if she is exhibiting warning signs of mania or depression.
Be aware of signs of depression
Of course, depressive episodes are extremely dangerous for people living with bipolar disorder because they are more likely to engage in reckless behavior, turn to drugs and alcohol, and have suicidal thoughts than people who do not struggle with the disorder. It may be difficult to distinguish between the person’s low period and increasing signs of depression, but you should contact her doctor if she will not get out of bed, does not want to participate in activities that she normally enjoys, or stops eating. Offer encouragement and let her know that you care and are concerned. It also is helpful if you take your friend or loved one with bipolar disorder to her appointments to be sure she stays on track with her sessions and medication.
Help them seek treatment for alcoholism or addiction
It is quite common for alcohol use disorder or substance use to coincide with bipolar disorder. People struggling with bipolar disorder may drink excessively or take illegal or recreational drugs during manic episodes, and they may turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism during depressive episodes. Both alcohol and drugs worsen the symptoms and severity of bipolar disorder, increasing the risk of mood swings, depression, violence and suicide.
If you think that your loved one is abusing alcohol or is addicted to drugs, help them seek treatment immediately and speak to their medical provider. There are several programs that can assist people who are recovering users as well, and it is a good idea to help your loved one with bipolar disorder find a program that will increase their chances of a successful substance use recovery.
As your loved one begins to treat their depression, they’ll need plenty of support and encouragement from friends and family. Offer positive feedback on the progress they’ve made. Encourage them to get involved in activities they might enjoy, such as playing a recreational sport or joining a book club. If they’ve had to leave a particularly stressful job because of its effects on their bipolar disorder, encourage them to find a more fulfilling form of employment. For example, if they enjoy working with animals, they might offer dog walking or pet sitting services through a company like Rover or if they enjoy writing or graphic design, they might take on projects using Upwork. When you can help them find activities and professional opportunities that are more beneficial to their overall wellbeing, you’ll be playing a very essential and important role in their recovery.
By offering your friendship, love, and support, you have the power to help someone better manage their bipolar disorder and lead a more stable, productive life. By showing you care and are willing to spend your time and energy to help, you stand a good chance of helping your loved one cope with the disorder more successfully.
Adam Cook has a strong understanding of the devastation that can be caused by addiction. He recently lost a close friend to an addiction-related suicide. In an effort to better educate himself and to help others, he created AddictionHub.org, a site that provides addiction and mental health resources. When he isn’t working or adding to his website, he’s prepping for his first triathlon.
Image via Pixabay by geralt
This was updated from 7/30/16
Addiction comes in many forms: drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex. We turn to things that give us pleasure in the moment without much thought to what it will do in the long run, and that kind of thinking can be costly.
Substance use is one of the most dangerous types of addiction. In a short amount of time, it can affect physical and mental health, finances, relationships, even jobs and school. It can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts, and, if left untreated, can become fatal. Yet it’s difficult for many people to talk about because of the stigma that surrounds substance use; it’s hard to reach out and ask for help because of shame or guilt.
When drugs or alcohol are used repeatedly, they begin to change the way the brain functions over time. They cause deterioration of the body and memory and can lead to low-self esteem, trouble sleeping and eating, and social isolation. When this leads to depression, the individual at risk automatically becomes more at risk for suicidal behavior.
The most common symptoms of depression include:
If these behaviors are left untreated, they are likely to only get worse. It’s imperative to reach out for help as soon as possible; if you are uncomfortable talking to someone you know, consider looking for a support group online or near your home. Consult your doctor and be honest about your substance use--how long it’s been going on, how often you use, and how much. He or she will likely recommend therapy or medication to begin recovery.
There are other ways to work toward healing, as well; getting daily exercise is one of the best ways to start down a healthy path. You may not feel up to getting outside, and that’s okay; there are many ways to be active. Swimming at the local pool is a great way to battle depression, because swimming requires focus and repetitive activity, both of which can help combat negative feelings. Yoga is also highly recommended.
You can also get creative. Any type of creative outlet--writing, art, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, acting, baking, sewing--can be tremendously helpful for those working toward a healthy life. Keeping a journal is also a good idea, because it will allow you to see when you felt a particular emotion and what caused it.
If the depression begins to lean toward suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to ask for help, either from a family member or close friend or a trained professional. There is no shame in expressing a need for assistance; in fact, it is one of the bravest things a person who is battling depression and substance abuse can do.
Michelle Peterson has been in recovery for several years. She started RecoveryPride.org to help eliminate the stigma placed on those who struggle with addiction. The site emphasizes that the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride and offers stories, victories, and other information to give hope and help to those in recovery.
Photo via Pixabay by 422694
This article was update from 9/26/16
Check out this open CIT ECHO session with Dr. Jeff Swanon. If you would like to attend please send Jenn an email at email@example.com.
Check out this data from the CIT ECHO. On-going training can help with self-efficacy and our viewpoints on mental health.
1. Nurture your relationships. Having close relationships and showing gratitude is what gives lasting happiness to people. Winning the lottery doesn't help your happiness in the long run. It’s about people and love, and love can take work. Tell people you care about them; it will make you and them both feel better.
2. Shorten your commute. Choose homes and jobs that are closer together. Studies show that people who have shorter commutes feel happier. Perhaps this is because they can focus on the things that matter most: more time with friends and family. If you can’t shorten your commute, make it more enjoyable – a good book on tape, or your favorite music.
3. Volunteer to help those less fortunate. Studies show that people who give back to their community feel better about themselves and live longer. Again, it’s about connections between people, not between you and material possessions. Get involved!
4. Have more sex. When you are more frequently intimate with the person you love, you’ll both feel better.
5. Write a letter of gratitude. Send an old fashioned letter or an email to someone who has helped you. If you make a habit of letting people know that you appreciate what they have done for you, you’ll feel better and they’ll feel better.
The PERF has released this new training document to help all agencies raise their training level. See more here: http://www.policeforum.org/about-icat
"Introduction: Filling a Critical Gap in Training — 5 Since 2014, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) has been studying developments regarding police use of force, particularly with respect to officer safety and the safety of the people they encounter, and the impact of these issues on police-community relationships. While PERF’s research and policy development on use-of-force issues go back decades,2 our recent efforts have followed a series of highly publicized police use-of-force incidents across the country, many of them captured on video and some resulting in large-scale protests and demonstrations.
There is a growing realization among leaders of the policing profession and members of the public that, in many communities, police use of force has become a critical issue that is setting back community-police relations and may even be impacting public safety and officer safety. It was clear that additional research and new ways of thinking about police use of force were needed, and PERF members and PERF as an organization stepped forward to fill that need.
PERF has convened several national conferences and working groups of police officials from the across the country on these issues. We also have conducted survey research and field visits in the United States and internationally, and have published a series of reports detailing our work. Our most recent publication, Guiding Principles on Use of Force, presents 30 recommended best practices in the key areas of use-of-force policy, training and tactics, equipment, and information needs.3 This ICAT Training Guide should be used in conjunction with the Guiding Principles report."
You may use this material in your own course. Please follow the guideline and become an instructor before utilizing the material. We do not own the rights to the video productions. They are used for training purposes and are not used for financial gain.
LEARNING TOGETHER: THE CIT KNOWLEDGE NETWORK
This is a presentation about the project ECHO collaboration to create the CIT Knowledge Network
Ask a Doc-Ask a Cop: The Mental Health Minute