Relationships can be a challenging even under the most ideal circumstances. If you have bipolar disorder, it may be much harder to establish and sustain relationships. Still, many couples in which a significant other is bipolar are able to make it work. Trust, sharing, communication, loyalty, intimacy, and the flexibility to change and grow over time, are typical hallmarks of a healthy relationship. So, while you don't have to let bipolar disorder define a relationship, it's essential to be honest early on. When should you tell a potential partner you have bipolar disorder? Experts say it isn't necessary to bring up the illness on a first date, but advise telling the other person about your illness once the potential to become more serious develops. While most people have heard of bipolar disorder, it's likely they may have preconceived notions or an inaccurate understanding of the illness. So start simply, with the facts. You may want to explain that bipolar is a mood disorder of dramatic up and down mood swings. As with other medical conditions, like diabetes or hypertension, you take medication and see a medical professional to help your symptoms. It may also be helpful to provide materials about the illness, or spend some time together learning about the disorder online. You may also want to explain behaviors that often characterize the illness like the euphoria, increased productivity and recklessness that may result from mania, as well as periods of debilitating depression. Having a relationship when living with Bipolar Disorder may be challenging, but it's not impossible. It does, however, require effort from both partners. It may be helpful to involve your partner in therapy sessions, which may increase understanding of certain behaviors and better help your partner to know how to react. Additionally, your mental health professional may recommend a bipolar support group, where you and your partner may gain valuable insight from the other couples. Many experts recommend a "contract" that allows you and your partner to agree in advance what steps your partner may take, or not take, to help you under certain circumstances. Other ways to help maintain a balanced relationship include keeping a mood diary that, over time, may help you better recognize early warning signs of a manic or depressive episode, enabling you to get treatment more quickly. Experts also say maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and exercising several days a week may help you manage stress and better facilitate a well-balanced relationship. If you, or someone you know, may be suffering from Bipolar Disorder, please see a mental health professional. You can also find more videos about Bipolar Disorder on this website.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012