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Susana Spiegel

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on May 23, 2024

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Getting help for bipolar disorder is essential for managing the extreme mood swings and challenges that come with this mental health condition.
If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, know that you’re not alone and that effective treatment options are available. By seeking professional help, exploring appropriate therapeutic interventions, and building a solid support system, individuals with bipolar disorder can take meaningful steps toward managing their symptoms and improving their quality of life.

Finding Support and Help for Managing Bipolar Disorder

It’s essential to find a place to start when diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A solid support system is essential when battling the challenges of the condition. Social support significantly impacts the experience and recovery from bipolar episodes, with a lack of support often leading to slower recovery and more severe symptoms, particularly during depressive phases.1

Despite the importance of social support, many people who have bipolar disorder feel they lack adequate support, showing the need for increased attention in this area.2 The benefits of social support can be:

  • Help Recovery: A strong support network can help reduce the length of depressive and manic episodes.
  • Reduced Symptom Intensity: Emotional and practical support can help lessen the severity of symptoms.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: Feeling supported can improve overall well-being and outlook.

Seeking support is a massive step in getting help for bipolar disorder effectively. Building a solid support network, including family, friends, support groups, healthcare professionals, and online communities, can make a significant difference in the lives of those living with bipolar disorder.
By openly discussing the condition with loved ones, joining support groups, establishing a solid relationship with a healthcare team, and leveraging online resources, individuals with bipolar disorder can create a robust support system that fosters understanding, resilience, and well-being.

Help with Building a Support Network

If you are concerned that you or your loved one is bipolar, it’s essential to start building a support network that cannot be understated by getting help for bipolar disorder. Though creating a support network may seem challenging at first, there are several groups of people you can reach out to:

  • Family and Friends: Educate your loved one with bipolar disorder about the condition to foster understanding and support.
  • Support Groups: Join a bipolar disorder support group to connect with others who have firsthand experience.
  • Healthcare Professionals: Develop a strong relationship with your healthcare team for effective bipolar disorder treatment.
    Online Communities: Digital platforms offer support and advice 24/7, making them a valuable resource.

While more research is needed, current evidence underscores the critical role of social support in managing bipolar disorder. By actively seeking and building a support network, people with bipolar disorder can improve their resilience, promoting recovery and well-being.

Bipolar Symptoms

During a manic episode, someone with bipolar disorder may experience an abnormally elevated or irritable mood for at least one week. This can include feelings of euphoria, extreme optimism, or significant irritability, often accompanied by a noticeable increase in energy and activity levels.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options

When someone with bipolar disorder starts exploring treatment options, it can feel overwhelming at first. However, understanding the available treatments can simplify the path to better mental health. Practical help for bipolar disorder typically involves a combination of medical treatment, therapy, and personal coping strategies to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.3 Components of bipolar disorder treatment are:

  • Education: This involves educating people with bipolar disorder and their families about the condition, promoting better understanding and engagement in treatment.
  • Medication: Treatments for bipolar disorder often include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and, in some cases, antidepressants (used cautiously) to manage mood swings.
  • Therapy: Various therapeutic approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), are employed to address and modify harmful thought patterns and behaviors in people with bipolar disorder.

By understanding and incorporating these treatment options, someone with bipolar disorder can create a strong foundation for managing their condition effectively. With the right combination of education, medication, therapy for bipolar disorder, and self-management strategies, individuals can navigate the challenges of living with bipolar disorder more successfully, leading to a more stable and fulfilling life.

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Seeking Treatment For Bipolar Disorder

Seeking help for bipolar disorder at the earliest signs is a pivotal step in positively influencing the course of the illness. Early recognition and intervention can profoundly impact someone with bipolar disorder’s ability to manage the condition and maintain a better quality of life4. The first steps in early treatment are:

  • Recognize the Signs: Familiarizing yourself with the early symptoms of bipolar disorder is essential. Early signs can vary but often include significant mood swings, changes in sleep patterns, and unusual behaviors in people with bipolar disorder.
  • Consult a Professional: If you suspect you or a loved one with bipolar disorder may be exhibiting symptoms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. A psychiatrist or psychologist can provide a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis for people who have bipolar disorder.
  • Understand Your Options: Educating yourself about the treatment options for bipolar disorder, including medication, therapy for bipolar disorder, and lifestyle adjustments, allows you to make informed decisions about your care.
  • Engage in Treatment: Active participation in your treatment process, including regular communication with your healthcare provider and adherence to the treatment plan, is essential for managing the disorder effectively, particularly for someone with bipolar disorder.

Initiating treatment early in the course of bipolar disorder can significantly enhance the management of the condition, reducing the severity of symptoms and improving overall well-being for people with bipolar disorder. It’s a vital step towards stabilizing mood swings, preventing future episodes, and leading a fulfilling life for those living with bipolar disorder.4

Quick Tip

How do you help someone with bipolar disorder?

To support someone with bipolar disorder, educate yourself about the condition, listen without judgment, encourage treatment adherence, and offer practical help. Be patient, set healthy boundaries, and prioritize your well-being. Remember, your consistent support and understanding can significantly impact their journey.

Medication For Bipolar Disorder

Medications play a critical role in getting help for bipolar disorder, tailored to fit each individual with bipolar disorder’s needs and symptoms. The proper medication can significantly improve the quality of life for someone with bipolar disorder, but it’s essential to understand the options and how they work.5 Here are medications for bipolar disorder that can genuinely help:

  • Personalized Treatment: Each person with bipolar disorder’s experience is unique, making personalized medication plans essential. Factors such as symptom severity, episode frequency, and personal health history dictate the choice of medication for people who have bipolar disorder.4
  • Antipsychotic Drugs: These are often the first line of treatment for managing manic episodes. They can effectively reduce or eliminate the highs of bipolar disorder, helping to stabilize mood swings in people with bipolar disorder.
  • Antidepressants: Their use in treating the depressive phase of bipolar disorder is more complex. While they can alleviate depressive symptoms, there’s a risk they could trigger manic episodes. Therefore, antidepressants are usually prescribed with caution and often in combination with mood stabilizers or antipsychotics for people living with bipolar disorder.
  • Evidence for Quetiapine: Among the variety of treatment options for bipolar disorder, quetiapine (an antipsychotic medication) has shown clear evidence of efficacy in treating bipolar depression. It’s one of the few medications with robust support for its use in both the manic and depressive phases of the disorder.

Choosing the proper medication involves careful consideration and close collaboration with a healthcare provider. Ongoing communication and adjustment may be necessary to find the most effective regimen with the fewest side effects. With the correct approach, medication can be a powerful tool in managing bipolar disorder, leading to a more stable and fulfilling life for people with bipolar disorder.

Yes, with proper treatment, support, and self-care strategies, many people with bipolar disorder can lead fulfilling, productive lives. Stability is possible.

Seeking help for bipolar disorder starts with reaching out to a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan, which may include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Support from loved ones and self-care are also crucial in managing the condition.

Bipolar disorder treatment is best guided by a psychiatrist or a medical doctor specializing in mental health. Your treatment team may also include a psychologist, social worker, and psychiatric nurse, all working together to provide comprehensive care and support.

Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Therapy is an integral component of managing and getting help for bipolar disorder, offering significant benefits that extend beyond the reach of medication alone. Having an effective management of bipolar disorder often requires a combination of medication and therapy. Therapy addresses the psychological aspects of the disorder, equipping people who have bipolar with strategies to manage their symptoms, cope with challenges, and improve their quality of life. Types of therapies for bipolar disorder can look like:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps individuals with bipolar disorder identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors, promoting healthier ways of thinking and managing stress.
  • Family-Focused Therapy: Involves family members in the treatment process, providing education about the disorder and teaching strategies to improve communication and support within the family, which is essential for someone with bipolar disorder.
  • Education: Offers people with bipolar disorder and their families information about the condition, helping them understand it and how to manage it effectively.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT): Focuses on stabilizing daily rhythms such as sleep, eating, and activity schedules, which can significantly impact mood stability for those with bipolar disorder.
  • Benefits for Individuals and Families: Therapy for bipolar disorder not only supports individuals living with bipolar disorder in managing their condition but also plays a vital role in educating and involving families. This holistic approach enhances overall well-being and fosters a supportive environment conducive to recovery.

Help for bipolar disorder is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. It’s about finding the right combination of strategies that work for the individual, tailored to their unique experiences and needs. By incorporating therapy into the treatment plan, people with bipolar disorder can gain insights, tools, and support to navigate their condition more effectively, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

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Support Groups for Bipolar Disorder

For individuals living with bipolar disorder, support groups stand as a beacon of hope and camaraderie, helping them navigate the complexities of their condition.6 The effectiveness of peer support for people with bipolar disorder hinges on several factors:

  • Sharing Lived Experiences: The power of support groups lies in the shared experiences of its members. These stories of personal triumphs and challenges offer practical advice and deep insights that are both inspiring and instructive for those with bipolar disorder.
  • Fostering Connections: Being part of a support group reduces the isolation often felt by people who have bipolar. It’s a space where everyone understands the struggle, offering emotional solace and a sense of belonging to individuals with bipolar disorder.
  • Inspiring Through Comparison: Witnessing the progress and coping strategies of others in similar situations can serve as a powerful motivator for someone with bipolar disorder. It shows what’s possible and provides a roadmap of hope and recovery.
  • The Healing Role of Helping: The opportunity to support others within the group not only aids those in need but also enhances the well-being of the person with bipolar disorder offering help. This mutual exchange of support is a core strength of peer groups.

Joining a bipolar disorder support group goes beyond mere discussion; it’s about building a community of mutual respect and understanding. These groups offer a haven for people with bipolar disorder to express their fears and achievements, fostering an environment of growth and mutual aid. This support acts as a complement to traditional medical treatments for bipolar disorder and therapies, embodying a comprehensive approach to managing the condition. 

Family Support for Bipolar Disorder

For young adults navigating the complexities of living with bipolar disorder, the role of family and friends cannot be overstated. The perception of support from loved ones is so important for someone with bipolar disorder, noting that both emotional and practical support behaviors are seen as invaluable by people with bipolar disorder is so important.7

  • Emotional Support includes family members’ understanding, patience, and empathy. Knowing they have a safe space to express themselves and their feelings without judgment is comforting and essential for the mental well-being of individuals with bipolar disorder.
  • Instrumental Support: Practical help can range from assistance with daily tasks to support in managing treatment plans or making important decisions. This type of support helps ease the burden that bipolar disorder can place on a person with bipolar disorder’s daily life.
    The Importance of Perceived Support
  • Encourages Open Communication: When support is felt, it fosters an environment where young adults with bipolar disorder feel comfortable sharing their struggles and achievements, leading to better mutual understanding and stronger family bonds.
  • Promotes Treatment Engagement: Support from family can motivate people who have bipolar to adhere to their treatment plans, attend appointments, and engage in healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Builds Resilience: Emotional and practical support from loved ones provides a foundation of strength, making it easier for those with bipolar disorder to navigate challenges and recover from episodes.

Creating a supportive environment involves active listening, educating oneself about the disorder, and being present and consistent. It’s about striking a balance between offering help and respecting the autonomy of the individual with bipolar disorder, encouraging them to take an active role in their treatment and daily life decisions.

Key Takeaways

Self-care for Bipolar Disorder

Getting help for bipolar disorder extends beyond medical treatments and therapy—it involves a commitment to self-care. People with bipolar disorder adopt various strategies to take charge of their well-being.8 Among these are accepting the diagnosis, practicing mindfulness, and making lifestyle adjustments:

  • Acceptance of Diagnosis: When diagnosed with bipolar disorder, accepting that the condition is a part of their life is a critical first step. This acceptance paves the way for a proactive approach to getting help for bipolar disorder and promoting wellness.
  • Mindfulness: Engaging in mindfulness practices helps individuals with bipolar disorder become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without judgment. This awareness can lead to better recognition of early warning signs and triggers, contributing to more practical help for bipolar disorder.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Adjustments in daily routines, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a balanced diet play a significant role in stabilizing mood swings and enhancing overall health for people with bipolar disorder.

Building a self-care routine can start with small, manageable steps like setting regular bedtimes, finding enjoyable exercise, or learning mindfulness techniques. The goal is to create a holistic approach to getting help for bipolar disorder that incorporates both physical and mental health practices. By embracing a comprehensive self-care regimen, people who have bipolar disorder can enhance their quality of life and complement traditional treatments with practices that support overall wellness.

Identifying Bipolar Episodes

When diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it’s essential to be able to identify manic and depressive episodes. Common warning signs of either a potential manic or depressive episode can look like this:

Mania Episode:

  • Mood Swings: Either severe depression or mania.
  • Impulsive Behavior: Engaging in risky or impulsive behaviors such as taking part in drugs, alcohol, and sex.
  • Lack of sleep: Staying up at night, being overactive.
  • Hallucinations: Some experience having hallucinations or delusions that aren’t real.

Depressive Episode:

  • Isolation: Hiding away from friends, family, and loved ones.
  • Sleeping all day: Unable to get out of bed and neglecting one’s personal needs.
  • Neglecting self-care: Not taking care of personal hygiene and self-care.
  • Suicidal tendencies: Expressing thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

 

Recognizing these signs can lead to early intervention and treatment, significantly improving the quality of life for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s important to remember that help is available, and no one has to navigate this journey alone. Contact healthcare professionals if you or a loved one exhibits these symptoms.

Managing Bipolar Episodes

Creating a well-defined plan when a bipolar episode arises can help ensure the safety and well-being of individuals with bipolar disorder during stressful times. Especially in extreme cases when it gets to the point that they become a danger to themselves or others around them. Here is how you can create a plan for when a bipolar episode happens:

  • Triggers and signs: Identifying personal triggers and warning signs so you know what to avoid.
  • Calming strategies: Use coping strategies and self-care techniques to help calm down.
  • Online resources: Support communities and online resources are always available.
  • Calling Health Provider: Call for mental health professionals and support groups that will provide help.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: In extreme circumstances, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741.
  • Emergency Departments: Call 911 or go to the emergency room

Sharing a plan when a bipolar episode takes place with trusted friends, family members, and even healthcare providers is extremely helpful. Having a support system all on deck when this happens can benefit the individual and loved ones.

How We Can Help You

If you or a loved one is living with bipolar disorder, remember that you are not alone. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and it’s the first step towards a more balanced and fulfilling life. At Cornerstone Healing Center, we understand your challenges and are here to help you every step of the way.

Our compassionate team of mental health professionals is dedicated to providing comprehensive, personalized care for individuals with bipolar disorder. We offer various services to meet your unique needs in getting help for bipolar disorder, from accurate diagnosis and medication management to therapy and support groups.

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Author & Reviewers

susana spiegel recovery writer and SEO expert
RECOVERY WRITER & ADVOCATE

Susana is a recovery writer and advocate with over 8 years in addiction recovery. She is passionate about sharing accurate and helpful information about mental health, addiction, and recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University and has over 7 years of working in the addiction field. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director
CLINICAL DIRECTOR & REVIEWER

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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