Calibrating Seriousness

When you’re caring for someone with bipolar disorder, there are going to be some unpredictable moments.

The depression side of bipolar disorder can take a person to dark, lonely places. These can lead to isolation as one goes through feelings of despair, guilt, remorse, and low self-esteem. These, if left untreated, could lead to thoughts or ideas of suicide. In the worst case scenario, a person could attempt suicide.

On the other hand, during mania people will typically feel good. So good, in fact, they often feel invincible. This can lead to risky behavior, including, but not limited to: increased alcohol or drug use, promiscuity, or engaging in other dangerous activity.

I Want to Support a Loved One with Bipolar. Learn More.

While you don’t want to overreact at every minor event, the duty of a caregiver is to protect a person from possibly harming themselves if their behavior is getting out of control.

Here are warning signs of some risqué behavior that you should be aware of:

Depression

Men and women often manifest depression differently. Women typically express their depression by:

  • feeling guilty, sad, or helpless
  • sleeping more
  • eating more and gaining weight

Men, however, are more likely to express their symptoms of depression by:

  • using drugs or alcohol
  • acting irritated or angry
  • eat less and lose weight

Women may attempt suicide, but unlike men, they are often unsuccessful. However, any attempt at taking one’s life should be taken very seriously by contacting a mental health professional immediately so that the person can get the help they need.

While a person may talk about suicide, threats or detailed, specific plans should be dealt with immediately, which may include having the person hospitalized.

Mania

Mania brings with it certain type of challenges, most of which revolve around erratic behavior.

This doesn’t mean that excessive talking or running around a lot is a bad thing, but you should pay attention to drinking, drug use, promiscuity, and more. As these periods have the potential to wear away trust between someone who is bipolar and his or her caregiver, here are some signs where someone’s mania could put him or her in danger, or pose threats to others:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Staying out late
  • Shoddy explanations of actions
  • Becomes easily defensive
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Unexplained injuries

Some of these show signs of extreme distress, but your watchful eye can help the person you’re caring for from losing control to their condition and potentially harmful behavior.

Paying close attention to your loved one’s behaviors during mania could prevent causing harm physically, emotionally, professional, or romantically while mania sweeps over a person.