On World Bipolar Day, millions of families battling this illness across the world are reminded that they aren’t alone.  

Some people with bipolar disorder experience mild to moderate mood swings and symptoms while others with the disorder experience more severe symptoms. If the person shows mild symptoms, the immediate family may give time, be able to adjust and accommodate easily. When symptoms are more severe, it can be harder for family members who must face challenges on several fronts. 

Grief, anxiety, conflict- Grief can result as people in the family begin to realize that their loved one will likely never be the same as they were before the illness. Anxiety is another emotional repercussion where children, in particular, may worry about when the next episode will occur, whether they will be required to give lifetime care and whether or not they have inherited the illness. Conflict is present in every family unit whether or not a member is affected by mental illness. As in other families, working on communication and conflict resolution will play a key role in holding the family together and helping all members to thrive. Assisting the affected member in counselling and finding the proper medication are the first steps to be taken. Then, the rest of the family will need to become educated about the disorder to keep expectations realistic. 

Romantic relationships- If you have a mood disorder, before making a long-term commitment to your partner, it is best to be open about your disorder. Major shifts in mood can make communicating and socializing difficult. While the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be managed with medication and psychotherapy, they can still take a toll on relationships, especially romantic relationships.Letting them know what they can expect when you are experiencing a mood shift and being honest about your condition is key to maintain a better relationship, being bipolar.

It’s also helpful to tell them what you usually do to manage your moods. This way, your partner won’t be surprised when you experience a mood episode and can even help you get through it. The best way to reduce relationship stress is to stick with the prescribed treatment plan. This can help minimize symptoms and diminish the severity of mood swings. Share the treatment plan with your partner so can also help keep you on stay on track. 

If your partner is suffering from a mood disorder, show some support by making sure they stick with their treatment plan and by asking them what you can do to help during mood episodes. Sometimes, you may need some help coping with your partner's condition and the effect it's having on your relationship. Finally, make sure you have your own support system of friends, loved ones, and counsellors who can provide advice and encouragement when you need it.