World Bipolar Day is observed on March 30th every year, on the renowned Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday after he was posthumously diagnosed with bipolar disorder. World Bipolar Day educates and advocates for the spread of information and de-stigmatisation of bipolar disorder.
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme (depression) to the other (mania). Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depression.
People with bipolar disorder have episodes of:
- depression – feeling very low and lethargic
- mania – feeling very high and overactive
Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you are experiencing.
Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer). These swings in mood are sometimes called mood episodes or mood states. Not everyone experiences mood episodes in the same way or for the same amount of time.
If you would like to learn more about bipolar disorder, Shawmind’s online course “Understanding Bipolar Disorder” will teach the learner about what bipolar disorder is, how it affects people, how it can be managed and how you can support someone struggling.
How can you help someone struggling with bipolar disorder?
Dealing with the highs and lows of bipolar disorder can be difficult—and not just for the person with the illness. Everyone around a person with bipolar disorder is affected by their emotions and behaviours, especially family members and close friends. It might put a strain on your relationship or cause friction in your home.
You may encounter irrational behaviour, excessive demands, volatile outbursts, and questionable judgments during a manic episode. And once the mania has passed, you might have to help pick up the slack for a loved one who doesn’t have the stamina to accomplish tasks at home or work during depressive periods.
The good news is that with adequate treatment, medication, and support, most people with bipolar disorder can stabilise their moods. Your patience, compassion, and understanding can go a long way toward helping your loved one get better. Having someone to talk to can often make an enormous difference in a person’s outlook and motivation.
You can support someone with bipolar disorder by:
1. Learning about bipolar disorder.
Learn everything you can about the symptoms and treatment options. The more you know about bipolar disorder, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one and keep things in perspective.
2. Encouraging the person to get professional help.
The sooner bipolar disorder is treated, the better the prognosis, so urge your loved one to seek professional help right away. Don’t wait to see if they will get better without treatment.
3. Being understanding.
If they need a sympathetic ear, encouragement, or treatment support, let them know you’re there for them. People with bipolar disorder are sometimes hesitant to seek help because they don’t want to burden others, so reassure them that you care and will do everything you can to assist them.
4. Showing patience.
Getting better takes time, even when a person is committed to treatment. Expect neither a speedy recovery nor a long-term cure. Be patient with the recovery process and prepare for setbacks and hardships. Bipolar disorder management can be a lifetime process.
Shawmind offer a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Course, which teaches the skills and knowledge for the learner to act as the first point of contact for anyone who wants to discuss their mental health. A mental health first aider can provide advice and support in a confidential, non-judgemental way before a professional mental health specialist is contacted.
Shawmind’s Mental Health First Aid course costs £250 per person– discounts are available for group bookings of 6-12 people. Contact us for more information, available dates, or to make a booking.