Bipolar disorder can be a challenging condition to live with: The high emotional highs, followed by the low lows, can impact not just your own mental health, but also the mental health of your close family and friends.
During a depressive episode, it can be impossible to work up the energy to make decisions or do even mundane tasks; during a manic episode, you may have racing thoughts or be more irritable than usual. In both instances, the behavior can strain your relationships, both at work and at home.
“There’s the personal part of bipolar [disorder], and there’s the interpersonal part of it,” says Michael Thase, MD, a psychiatrist at Penn Medicine and professor of psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “Bipolar disorder does test the durability of love bonds.”
More confusing, the condition isn’t always marked by extremes — a few days of feeling “high,” for example, followed by a depressive crash. Rather, says Diane Solomon, PhD, a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Portland, Oregon, “You can have mixed episodes, where you have a lot of energy, but you’re really irritable and depressed at the same time.” In those cases, bipolar disorder can be difficult to not only treat but also identify.
Even though bipolar disorder can affect your relationships with others, it’s important to maintain close bonds with your friends, family, and children. They are often the first ones to notice if you’re having a bipolar episode.
How much is bipolar disorder impacting your quality of life? Take this quiz to see if your condition is well managed or if it may be time to rethink your approach.