How To Help Someone In Crisis
Sometimes depression and bipolar disorder have symptoms that can best be helped by inpatient psychiatric treatment. Try to find out what treatment is available to your loved one, and what steps you can take during a crisis before the crisis occurs, if possible.
People may need to go to the hospital if they:
Voluntary hospitalization takes place when a person willingly signs forms agreeing to be treated in the hospital. A person who signs in voluntarily may also ask to leave. This request should be made in writing. The hospital must release people who make requests within a period of time (two to seven days, depending on state laws), unless they are a danger to themselves or others.
Most psychiatric hospital stays are from five to ten days. There are also longer residential rehabilitation programs for alcohol or substance abuse, eating disorders or other issues that require long-term treatment.
Involuntary hospitalization is a last resort when someone’s symptoms have become so severe that they will not listen to others or accept help. You may need to involve your loved one’s doctor, the police or lawyers.
Involuntary hospitalization is an option of last resort only. It is better to talk with your loved one before a crisis and determine the best treatment options together. Work with your loved one in advance to write down ways to cope and what to do if symptoms become severe. Having a plan can ease the stress on you and your loved one, and ensure that the appropriate care is given.
How can I convince my loved one to check in voluntarily?
How should I talk to a person in crisis?
Some people find it helpful to write down mania prevention and suicide prevention plans, and give copies to trusted friends and relatives. These plans should include:
How can an advance directive or a medical power of attorney help?
An advance directive and a medical power of attorney are written documents that give others authority to act on a person’s behalf when that person is ill. Your loved one can specify what decisions should be made and when. It is best to consult a qualified attorney to help with an advance directive or a medical power of attorney. These documents work differently in different states. The resources below can give you more information.
How long will it take before the person feels better?
Some people are able to stabilize quickly after starting treatment; others take longer and need to try several treatments, medications or medication combinations before they feel better. Talk therapy can be helpful for managing symptoms during this time.
There is hope!
As a friend or family member of someone who is coping with bipolar disorder or depression, your support is an important part of working toward wellness. Don’t give up hope. Treatment for mood disorders does work, and the majority of people with mood disorders can return to stable and productive lives. Keep working with your loved one and his or her health care providers to find treatments that work, and keep reminding your loved one that you are there for support.
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