Helping Others Throughout Their Lives
What can I do when my child is ill?
Patience and understanding are especially important when a child is ill. Children with bipolar disorder often have different symptoms than adults do, and are more likely to switch quickly from manic symptoms to depressive symptoms.
Children with mood disorders do better in a low-stress, quiet home environment, and with a family communication style that is calm, low-volume, non-critical, and focused on problem-solving rather than punishment or blaming. Stress reduction at school through use of an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) is also very important. Request an evaluation from your child’s school counselor or psychologist to get the process started.
If your child with a mood disorder is an adult, it is important to treat him or her like an adult, even when he or she is not acting like one. As much as you may want to, you may not be able to force your adult child to keep doctor’s appointments or take medications. As with any other family member, keep encouraging treatment and offering your support, but establish boundaries for yourself too, such as not lending money if your adult child seems to be having manic or hypomanic symptoms.
What can I do when an older relative is ill?
Mood disorders are not a normal part of aging. You may face more challenges if an elderly relative is ill and lives far away from you or in an assisted living facility.
It may be helpful for you to spend additional time with your elderly relative, or, if that is difficult, meet with other relatives to see if you can take turns visiting or caring for your loved one.
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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