How to help your bipolar spouse

Commented on By Trix O’Callaghan (Counselling Psychologist) - Intamicy 4 Us, Article by LIZE GROENEWALD

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Trix O’Callaghan, Counsellor and Psychologist from Johannesburg says that it is most definitely not easy living with someone that suffers from bipolar disorder. She offers the following tips:

1. If possible, get to know the treating Psychiatrist better and be available to provide additional information and offer support during treatment.
2. Encourage the sufferer to push through with the treatment and to rather discuss concerns (such as side-effects of medication) with the treating doctor as opposed to quitting their medication.
3. Get to know the warning signs for manic episodes or depression. When the person is stable, plan how you will both handle future episodes together as a couple.
4. Come to an agreement with regards to safety measures, such as withholding credit cards or vehicle keys should a manic episode arise. Keep a record of it. Get to know the warning signs of suicide and take threats seriously. Hospitalisation can save lives in cases where manic episodes or suicidal risks are uncontrollable.
5. Build a support network. Ask other family members to take over from you on occasion when it comes to treating the patient. Join a support group to exchange information and to better understand the disease and feel empowered. Also encourage the patient to manage their own disease and respect their wishes as far as possible.

It’s a disease that needs to be taken seriously and you as the spouse needs all the support that you can possibly get. With the right assistance, a marriage can survive bipolar disorder.

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