How to reconcile bipolar disorder and life as a couple?

Romantic relationships are rarely simple. When a partner suffers from a psychological disorder, they need it More communication and settlement to last over time. Contrary to appearances, love and polarity are not completely opposite, provided that certain requirements are met. How do you live a healthy married life? Dr. Isabelle enlightens us, psychiatrist and general secretary of the French Psychiatric Federation.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive psychosis, is a Mood disorder characterized by phases of mania and depression interspersed with phases of calm (Where the mood stabilizes and becomes “normal”). “It must be distinguished from borderline disorder: in this case, the mood swings are numerous and occur on the same day. Whereas in the classic form of bipolar disorder, the phases of deep depression and extreme agitation (mania) last several weeks,” the psychiatrist specifies. And to show:

During the phases of depression or mania, the emotional and emotional life of patients is disturbed: they either turn off, or worsen completely. This seriously compromises the quality of vision of patients, who are more likely to have anxiety disorders, addiction and suicidal behaviour.

Recognize the depressive stage

The depressive phase is characterized by Great difficulty experiencing pleasure: anhedonia. “The feeling of love, pleasure and emotional life is severely affected,” says Dr. Isabel Secret Popoulakis. “Patients no longer have a taste for life and their self-esteem has decreased.” They may display many of the following symptoms:

  • a depressed mood ;
  • a loss of interest or pleasure ;
  • a Loss or increase in appetite ;
  • from Insomnia Or, on the contrary, a oversleeping ;
  • psychological retardation;
  • extreme tiredness (asthenia);
  • Loss of self-esteem:
  • a feeling guilty Importance ;
  • big frequency
  • black thoughts, Suicidal motives or thoughts.

The risk of suicide is high during this stage! If a bipolar person is depressed and expresses suicidal thoughts, this is a psychological emergency: the patient must be protected from himself and hospitalized, the psychiatrist insists.

Select the phase of mania

The manic phase is mainly characterized by hyperactivity, excessive euphoria, and thoughts of grandiosity. During these stages, Rush and shake off the seizures, which encourages all kinds of representation: especially on the sexual level, but also on the financial one, through reckless purchases, for example, ”warns the professional. Entourage (or) the patient may also experience aggressiveness: patients may present several symptoms :

  • great trance ;
  • a high self esteem and sometimes Paranoid thoughts ;
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • great desire to speakbabble);
  • confused thoughts or even the idea of ​​racing;
  • Attention and concentration problems ;
  • a Hyperactivity (which can lead to social, professional, academic, financial, athletic investment, or even sexual overinvestment);
  • risky behavior Compulsory shopping, speeding, unprotected or multiple sexual intercourse, violence, harmful or even criminal acts, gambling, etc.;
  • from psychotic symptoms : delusions, hallucinations and thought shattering.

This is amazing Emotional instability has inevitable consequences for emotional relationshipsespecially marital relations. Especially since the disease suffers from a delay in diagnosis and therefore slow care. Once diagnosed, bipolar disorder can be controlled Mood stabilizers and for educational psychological care.

Does bipolar disorder affect the ability to love?

When they are not in mania or depression, people with bipolar disorder are calm They are able to recognize and feel their feelings and give them love. Difficulties arise during the acute phases, known as decompensation (manic-depressive phases).

People with bipolar disorder fall in love just like everyone else. Dr. Secret Populakis stresses that they do not form particularly dysfunctional pairs, but the disease can eventually create difficulties.

When they take their treatment and make sure their follow-up is complied with, they are completely sick Able to maintain a stable relationship. As in every couple, it takes communication, understanding and some sacrifices.

What are the negative effects that bipolarity can have on spouses?

Let’s face it, bipolar disorder impairs marital relationships, but also, more broadly, impairs socio-professional relationships. “Mood swings are not easy to deal with either for the patient or their partner. Unfortunately, Many unions end up in separation or divorce. Most often, the husband can no longer take it and throw in the towel ”, notes the expert.

Everything is not always black: Bipolar people are often generous, creative, and sensitive personalities. But sometimes that just isn’t enough to make up for it Daily mental workload. The partner often lives in a state of hypervigilance: he or she is constantly watching for warning signs (signs) of an episode of mania or depression. Added to this troubling anticipation is frustration, fear and sadness at the inability to relieve the symptoms of the disease. Not to mention the weight of the tasks of daily life that fall upon him once the patient enters the stage of depression (asthenia, anhedonia).

When the husband becomes an obstacle

Another difficulty, and not the least significant: in the manic phase, a bipolar person may experience frequent crushes, commit infidelities, put family finances at risk, develop violent reactions, etc. In some very rare cases, guardianship (or even guardianship) is necessary, because the patient enters the stage of denial of his disease and refuses to receive treatment. The husband is then seen as a brake, a hindrance that prevents spending money, criticized, not supportive enough…

Are these relationships viable in the long term?

“It all depends on the quality of the care the patient receives (long-term, regular follow-up, under the supervision of the same team, if possible), the psychiatrist replies. If the patient has received appropriate care and that he and his entourage are accustomed to getting acquainted with the beginnings of the compensation process, then life Marriage and family are quite possible over time. But keep in mind that bipolar disorder cannot be “cured.” He’s been there for life.”

How do you manage a relationship when you suffer from bipolarity?

People with bipolar disorder must adopt a very strict lifestyle to better control their illness:

  • get enough sleep;
  • Reducing stress factors
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
  • engaging in regular sports activity;
  • follow a healthy and balanced diet;
  • Do not take medications (including antidepressants) without medical advice;
  • etc.

The importance of monitoring and transparency

Bipolar people who wish to enter into a romantic relationship should be aware that they have a psychiatric disorder that requires regular treatment follow-up. To lead a healthy relationship, the most important thing is to learn to communicate with his or her partner about his or her past experiences, feelings and fears. Thus, he will be less disoriented during a mood attack.

What should I do if I am in a relationship with a bipolar person?

If you are in a relationship with a person with bipolar do not hesitate to meet with their caregivers, in order to ask all the questions necessary for your correct understanding of the disorder. Dr. Secret Populakis warns that “in most cases, patients with bipolar disorder have a good level of social and professional integration. They are often creative, original and charming people.”

We can be seduced at first, but we have to be aware of the issues to support all the mood swings!

Maintaining a romantic relationship with a bipolar person requires knowing the other person and their history well, seeking education to better understand their illness, flexibility, vigilance, patience, etc. You also need to be able Dealing with periods of denial : “Often, in remission, the bipolar patient thinks he no longer needs care. Communication becomes difficult, and dialogue often gives way to yelling and scolding. Then relatives should be able to count on support from trusted teams, take care patient,” the specialist insists.

Is it dangerous to live with a bipolar person?

No, diagonals are not dangerous to those around them. Mental illness is not dangerous in itself. On the other side, Diagonals can put themselves at risk The risk of suicide in the depressive phase, or making an ill-considered decision in the manic phase, is a real risk. This is even more true when a person is in the grip of addictions (alcohol, drugs, games, etc.) which can exacerbate aggressive actions.

Feel free to ask for help!

All mental illnesses have repercussions on those close to them (parents, children, spouse, etc.). The life partner soon becomes a “helper”: he or she provides moral support, emotional presence, follow-up treatment, etc. It’s not always an easy place, because we don’t all have the same psychological or medical skills. So it is important to feel surrounded, to be listened to and supported.

Bipolarity: What is the advice for living a quiet life as a couple?

As in any relationship, the important thing is to listen to each other, understand each other, and be present for each other. Some tips to maintain a peaceful relationship with your partner:

  • Communication on both sides.
  • allowing time to think and adapt to the other;
  • focus on stability (geographical, temporal, etc.);
  • Expression of feelings: one’s reassurance in love makes it possible to consolidate the spouses despite difficulties;
  • Pay attention to the feelings of the other and accept it without offending him.

When illness takes up a lot of space in a relationship, it’s important to discuss it with care teams, and possibly go through couples therapy. Everyone should be aware of their role and limits. Conclusion ? Having a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder is not impossible, but it does require patience and stability.

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