Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects an individual’s mood. While manageable, the condition not only affects how a person thinks and feels, but also how they behave and act in romantic relationships. For instance, individuals with bipolar disorder experience severe high and low moods, which are typically called manic and depressive episodes. While in these emotional states, their behavior can scare and confuse their partner.
The good news is, with the right treatment plan, many individuals with bipolar disorder can have healthy and satisfying relationships.
Manic vs Depressive Episodes
In order to understand how bipolar disorder can affect relationships, we need to look at how the two main episodes affect a person’s personality and behavior.
When someone is in a manic state, they are often very irritable. This may cause them to disagree with their partner, and sometimes cause them to look for fights that aren’t really there.
Manic episodes also cause sufferers to partake in risky behaviors, such as binge drinking or gambling sprees. These risky behaviors can cause a lot of tension in the relationship.
Depressive episodes tend to cause the person to become very depressed and less communicative. They may be very weepy and feel hopeless. During these episodes the individual may pull away from their partner. They may also seem so lost and sad their partner feels overwhelmed and unable to help them.
Tips for Healthy Relationships
There is no relationship on the planet that doesn’t require a lot of work and effort. A relationship with a bipolar individual is no different. The good news is, there are numerous ways to build a loving and strong relationship in this situation:
- Learn about the condition – The more you know about bipolar disorder, the more you can understand what your partner is experiencing.
- Know their triggers – Triggers can disrupt your loved one’s mood, sending them into either a manic or depressive episode. Asking about potential triggers will help you support your loved one.
- Creating a support plan – A comprehensive plan will help you support your partner. Your plan can include things like useful contacts, activities to avoid, necessary adjustments to daily routine, etc.
If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or if you are on the verge or diving into a relationship with someone who has, know that the condition does not mean you will be saddled with problems. But a healthy relationship will depend on effectively managing symptoms.
If you’d like to work with a licensed mental health therapist who specializes in working with individuals with bipolar disorder, please give my office a call. I’d be happy to discuss treatment plans and how I may be able to help you experience a profound and loving connection with others.