bipolar

Living with Someone Experiencing Depression

 
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Are you living with someone that’s depressed?

Let’s take a closer look at how to take care of yourself while trying to be understanding of their situation

 

Living with someone who is experiencing depression is not easy. When they are struggling, it can often be hard to know what to do or say, and it’s not uncommon to feel angry, guilty or overwhelmed from time to time.

Learn about depression

By having an idea of how someone is affected by depression, you might be able to better recognize why they behave the way they do. Understanding more about depression might also help you separate the illness from your family member, partner or friend, and realize that their mood and behavior might not be directed at you personally.

Everyone is affected by their depression a little bit differently. Sometimes it can be physically draining to move much, so the house might not get picked up as often as it normally would. Perhaps being around people is exhausting, so they might need more time alone than usual.

Try not to blame them or shame them for what they’re experiencing, as it’s not something they can control. Just try to be as compassionate as you can for their experience, while also taking care of yourself.

Put yourself first occasionally

As a family member or friend of someone who’s going through depression, it’s important that you look after yourself. This can be hard and you might find that you feel guilty when you do something for yourself, but taking time out for yourself is an important part of taking care of yourself and your loved one.

Having time away from your friend or family member can be important and allow you to relax. Try to spend some time doing what you enjoy. You might want to play a sport, hang out with friends, listen to music or go for a walk. Our Developing Coping Strategies can give you some ideas on what self-care might be best for you.

It may also be helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal, since you likely won’t be able to express those properly with the person who is depressed. Remember that your mental health is also important, and you’re allowed to set boundaries for yourself.

Talk about what your loved one finds helpful

Make conversations about depression easy and open. Try asking what helps them get through their depression. By talking openly, you are letting the person know that you love and support them. You may like to talk about what you have read about depression, and ask how they feel about it.

Find a support group

If you are living or caring for someone who is experiencing depression, you may sometimes feel you are alone. Friends may not understand what you’re dealing with. Talking to people who are in a similar situation may be helpful. The National Alliance on Mental Illness might be a good place to find some support. You can also call Lines for Life’s YouthLine at 1-877-968-8491 or their Suicide LifeLine at 1-800-273-8255 for more information on how to talk to your loved one about depression or if you suspect they’re feeling suicidal.

Talk to someone

It might be helpful to talk to someone you trust, like another friend or family member, about how you’re feeling regarding your loved one’s depression. If you feel like you are having trouble doing day to day activities or the stress of caretaking for this depressed person is too much, you could also consider seeing a counselor or therapist.

 

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

A closer look at the different types of bipolar disorders, causes, and treatment options available

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, is a mood disorder characterized by exaggerated mood swings. Bipolar means two poles or extremes, and if you have bipolar disorder you are likely to have intense ups and downs. You might experience varying extremes of mania (“up” periods) and depression (“down” periods).

Mood episodes

Everyone has ups and downs (including those related to hormonal changes in adolescence and to the menstrual cycle in women). However, bipolar disorder is a medical condition where you have extreme mood swings, or “mood episodes,” widely out of proportion, or totally unrelated to what’s happening in your life. These swings affect your thoughts, feelings, physical health, emotional health, behavior and day-to-day functioning. These symptoms can be extremely disruptive to your life, and distressing to your friends and family.

Every time you experience symptoms at one extreme for at least one week, it is called an episode. People with bipolar disorder experience four main mood episodes—mania, hypomania, depression and mixed mood.

Manic episode (or “Mania”)

A manic episode happens when you experience an unusual and constantly elevated or bad-tempered mood, lasting at least one week.

During times of mania, you might experience:

  • Elevated or euphoric mood. This can include being full of energy and being happy. Euphoria is often described as being on a high or “on top of the world”

  • Changes in activity levels. You might notice changes in your sleeping and eating patterns

  • Faster thinking and speaking patterns. Thoughts can be quicker than usual, which might lead you to speak faster and jump from subject to subject

  • Lack of inhibitions. You might find it more difficult to see what the consequences of your actions could be

  • Irritability. You might be more likely to be angry or annoyed with others, particularly if they seem to reject your plans or ideas

  • Unrealistic or grandiose plans and beliefs. You might have unrealistic beliefs about your talents. For example, you might believe that you’re a king, queen, film star or religious figure

  • Risk taking behavior. You might take unnecessary and unsafe risk

  • Hypersexuality. You might experience increased sexual thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, or use explicit sexual language

  • Measuring behavior. You might find it hard to decide what behavior is appropriate in a particular situation

A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode, with less extreme symptoms. These are more commonly seen in people with Bipolar II.

Depressive episode

A depressive episode is when you have either a depressed mood or the loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. This episode typically lasts for at least two weeks.

When you are experiencing a depressed mood you might:

  • Lose interest in day-to-day activities

  • Feel unusually tired and exhausted

  • Have no appetite or an increased appetite, and experience changes in body weight

  • Feel worthless or guilty

  • Have difficulty concentrating

Check out the fact sheet on Depression for more information about the characteristics of depression.

Mixed episode

A mixed episode is when you experience both manic and major depressive symptoms nearly every day for at least one week. Your mood might vary with the time of the day.

Types of bipolar disorder

Diagnoses of different bipolar disorders are based on your experience of mood changes, what relatives and friends tell mental health professionals about what they’ve witnessed, professional observation, and an assessment by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional who is licensed to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. Understanding the different classifications of bipolar disorder can help you identifying the best way of managing it.

Bipolar I

Bipolar I is a type of disorder where you experience one or more manic episode or mixed episode, and often one or more major depressive episode. Each depressive episode can last for several weeks or months, alternating with intense symptoms of mania that can last just as long. Between these extremes, you might have periods where life continues normally. Your symptoms can also be affected by changes in the seasons or life situations that come up, like school exams.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II is a type of disorder where you experience one or more major depressive episode, along with at least one hypomanic episode. Between episodes, there might be periods of normal life functioning. Symptoms might also be related to seasonal changes and life situations.

Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is a chronic, or long-lasting, fluctuating mood pattern that involves periods of hypomania and periods of depression. It is a milder form of bipolar disorder. The duration of the symptoms is shorter, less severe and not as regular.

Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (NOS)

When symptoms don’t fit any other type of bipolar disorder; it is called bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. Although the experiences of this form of bipolar disorder vary from person to person, someone with bipolar disorder NOS will still experience some variation of manic and depressive episodes. Just like the other three types, bipolar disorder NOS is a treatable disorder.

Causes of bipolar disorder

Men and women have equal chances of developing bipolar disorder, although men are often diagnosed at an earlier age. Bipolar disorder might be associated with a combination of factors, including genetics, biochemistry, stress and in some cases the seasons. Approximately 1% to 5% of people suffer from bipolar disorder.

Getting help for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a treatable illness, and usually requires long-term management. Many people with bipolar disorder are creative and intelligent, and with proper management of this condition, can lead full and productive lives. Treatment options are available for managing both mania and depression. It is a good idea to speak to your doctor about which options might be best for you.

Medication. Your local doctor should be able to tell you about what medications are available for bipolar disorder. Most people are referred to a psychiatrist for diagnosis and medical treatment.  Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and antidepressants can all be used to control bipolar disorder.

Seeing a counselor or psychologist. If you’re experiencing bipolar disorder, you might also find it helpful to talk with someone like a psychologist, counselor, social worker or other mental health professional. By doing this, you can gain a better understanding of what you’re experiencing. It can also be helpful just to talk about how you feel, and these professionals should help you work out why you feel this way. In most situations, a psychiatrist will manage any medication and monitor your situation, while another mental health professional can assist you to manage your life better.

Family/friend support network. Family members and friends can help with the day-to-day management of bipolar disorder by providing feedback on mood states, as well as by giving support, friendship, understanding and a non-judgmental listening ear.

Support groups. Bipolar disorder support groups offer valuable first-hand information from others who live with the disorder. You can find support both locally and on the Internet.

Lifestyle. Regulating your eating and sleeping patterns can help you manage bipolar disorder, and can help prevent manic, hypomanic, depressive or mixed episodes. You should also consider drinking less or no alcohol and not taking drugs.

Stress management and relaxation. Decreasing stress levels, planning ahead and learning relaxation techniques are also important strategies that can help control bipolar disorder.

Hotlines. When things get tough and you want to talk to someone anonymously about your emotions, or if you’re worried about a friend whom you suspect might be bipolar, you can call Lines for Life’s YouthLine at 1-877-968-8491 or by texting teen2teen to 839863. The helpline is free and staffed 24 hours a day with trained volunteers. If you are feeling suicidal, or worried about a friend who might be suicidal or in crisis, you can also call the Suicide LifeLine at 1-800-273-8255. For a directory of crisis services, check out our Crisis Helplines article.

Psychiatric hospital. To keep safe and get the best support, it might be necessary to be admitted to hospital during more extreme episodes of mania or depression.

Information for this article was provided by:

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com