Life can be intense enough on it's own, and caring for someone with bipolar disorder only intensifies the stresses of daily life.
Caregiving can be an emotionally taxing experience. A study in 1999 found that caregivers of people with mental disorders often experienced symptoms on par with depression: guilt, loss, helplessness, fear, vulnerability, and feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, and defeat.
The person you're caring for is most likely going to some sort of therapy, but just because you're not the one who is bipolar doesn't mean you couldn't benefit from a little therapy yourself.
While there is still some unjust social stigma surrounding therapy, speaking with a professional about challenges you face while caring for someone with bipolar disorder can help you manage the stresses and challenges that come with daily tasks.
A therapist is a neutral third party who can listen to your problems and concerns, help you find insight into your life, and find ways to manage the potentially-hectic task of caregiving.
These types of stressors can have a profound impact on your life, so attending therapy regularly can help you deal with combating the negative aspects of caregiving.
The National Institute of Mental Health recommends that family and caregivers of people with mental health issues should seek support from friends or mental health professionals.
Talk therapy is the gold standard of therapy. This involves meeting one-on-one with a trained mental health professional. There are numerous types of therapists available and varying styles of therapy.
There are numerous types of talk therapy that could benefit a person who cares for someone with bipolar disorder, including:
- Problem-Solving Therapy: this is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy designed to help a person through stressful parts of life, like caregiving for someone who is bipolar. The goal of the therapy is to help the person see the brighter side of things by helping control their emotional reaction to problems.
- Interpersonal Therapy: this therapy focuses on the role a person plays in relationships, specifically how problems can affect an individual person. This therapy could be beneficial to those who find it hard being patient with the person they are caring for.
- Person-Centered Therapy: in this therapy, the therapist steps away from the objective counselor and becomes more subjective while the person is given freedom to develop his or her own solutions.
Caregivers can find group therapy beneficial because they can share their experiences with others caring for people with bipolar disorder or other mental conditions. The group setting, often officiated by a mental health professional, allows others to share what they are going through. Group therapy often helps caregivers feel part of a community. It is also a helpful way to gain pointers and tips from others.
Nearly every city has a support group for caregivers of people with mental disorders. A simple internet search can point you in the right direction, or ask the doctor who is treating your loved one for recommendations.
Family therapy is just as the name implies—it's therapy in a family setting. This involves family members meeting either individually with the same therapist or all at the same time.
Family therapy can help people with bipolar disorder and their caregivers, as it is a way that everyone can learn how their actions affect others. This type of therapy is known to foster cohesion among family members.
Another well-named style of therapy, couples therapy can help bring people together, and air-out problems in a safe environment. This type of therapy is designed for couples, married or not. This can help couples form a stronger bond as they explore issues affecting their relationship.