Ups and downs are natural in any romantic relationship, but when your partner has bipolar disorder it can feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster ride. Not knowing what to expect each day is stressful and exhausting. Over time, it wears down on the relationship. When people enter into relationships, they seek stability, says Scott Haltzman, MD.
Haltzman is a clinical adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University. He is also the medical director of NRI Community Services in Woonsocket, R, I. and author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men and The Secrets of Happily Married Women. He tells WebMD that bipolar disorder can seriously complicate a relationship.
The person, particularly if left untreated, may be prone to changes in their mood, personality and interactions that can threaten the consistency that is the framework of a relationship. All relationships require empathy, communication, and emotional awareness. These qualities help a person be a supportive partner for someone with bipolar disorder. People with well-managed bipolar disorder can build healthy, long-term relationships.
You can absolutely have a healthy and happy relationship with a partner who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The partner with the condition may have feelings of guilt, shame, and fear due to the impact of a mood episode on the relationship. Meanwhile, the spouse's partner may experience a variety of emotions, including anxiety, resentment, loneliness, or feeling trapped. All relationships require work, and being in a relationship with a person with bipolar disorder is no different.
Payne says: “Couples counseling is essential to overcoming discomfort over the actions of a bipolar partner. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is difficult to overcome, and bipolar relationships affect both parties. Medications used to treat bipolar disorder 1 and 2 range from mood stabilizers to antidepressants and antipsychotics. This is because many patients seek diagnosis exclusively for the depressive symptoms of the disorder, making it common for healthcare professionals to initially diagnose the person with depression.
Couples therapy can be a useful tool for maintaining a healthy relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder. During manic episodes, a person with bipolar disorder may have an unusual amount of energy and may not be able to sleep. For the bipolar person's spouse, knowing when to offer help involves recognizing how your partner feels. For a couple diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this may be the time to take another look at the relationship.
If you have bipolar disorder, you may already be familiar with the impact your condition can have on a romantic relationship. Here are some rules to apply to a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder that will help you get out of the rough spots even stronger in your relationship. While the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be managed with medication and psychotherapy, they can still affect relationships, perhaps especially romantic ones. Placing infuriating and frustrating behavior within the context of the disorder can help you blame the illness, not the person.
Read on to learn about bipolar disorder, how it can affect a relationship, and how to help a spouse living with the condition. If you are the partner with bipolar disorder, there may be circumstances where you need to put your mental health first rather than trying to make a relationship work.