Help with Symptoms and Treament
How can I help someone who has symptoms of depression?
Depression may cause someone to have feelings of unbearable sadness, guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness. The person does not want to feel this way, but can’t control it. Make sure the person’s doctor knows what is happening, and ask if you can help with everyday tasks such as housekeeping, running errands, or watching children. Help your loved one try to stick to some sort of daily routine, even if he or she would rather stay in bed. Spend quiet time together at home if he or she does not feel like talking or going out. Keep reminding your loved one that you are there to offer support.
How can I help someone during a manic episode?
Remember that mania may cause a person to believe things that aren’t true, make big plans or life changes, spend money to excess, or do other things that may be dangerous. Sometimes a person might be more outgoing or enthusiastic during early stages of mania. Do your best to keep your loved one from doing things that might be harmful. Urge him or her to put off any plans to start a big project, spend a lot of money, drive a long distance, or anything that sounds dangerous to you. Keep in mind that he or she may insist that everything is under control. You may need to ask other friends, family members, or mental health professionals to intervene and help keep your loved one safe.
Encourage your loved one to see a doctor as soon as possible. Don’t make demands, threats, or ultimatums unless you are fully prepared to follow through with them. Keep yourself safe. If your loved one becomes abusive, call a friend, a family member, a mental health professional, or 911 for help.
What can I do to make sure my loved one gets good treatment?
What if hospitalization is necessary?
Sometimes, when symptoms of depression or mania become severe, it is necessary for a person to be hospitalized. This might seem scary at first, but the safe, controlled environment of the hospital can help the person return to stability.
If you think your loved one might benefit from a hospital stay, find out all you can about local hospitals and the inpatient and outpatient services they offer. Try to do this before a crisis. Find out if his or her insurance or Medicare/Medicaid covers hospitalization, and if not, find out about community or state-run facilities.
If your loved one is open to doing so, suggest discussing the possibility of hospitalization with a doctor before the need arises, and making a list of preferred hospitals, medications, and treatment methods for use in a crisis.
While your loved one is hospitalized, be supportive by visiting frequently and bringing comforting or familiar items. Ask the staff questions; if theydon’t have the answers, find someone at the hospital who does. Don’t be afraid to be assertive about making sure your loved one receives the best treatment. Keep records of the people you talk to and when.
How can I support someone during outpatient treatment?
When your friend or family member begins seeing a doctor or therapist, show that you support the decision to seek treatment and ask how you can be most helpful. Learn about your loved one’s symptoms. Each person needs different kinds of help keeping symptoms under control. Learn about medications and what side effects to expect. 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 long will it take before theperson 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. If your friend or family member is facing treatment challenges, the person needs your support and patience more than ever. Education can help you both find out all the options that are available and decide whether a second opinion is needed. Help your loved one to take medication as prescribed, and don’t assume the person is not following the treatment plan just because he or she isn’t feeling 100% better.
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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