08-27 Familial support for a depression and bipolar disorder intervention

Posted in Bipolar disorder, Depression, Treatment

Familial support for a depression and bipolar disorder intervention

In theory, family members know and understand each other better than anyone. Family can be better at recognizing a loved one’s symptoms of depression compared to strangers, casual friends – even the patient themselves.

Symptoms of depression can include irritability, social withdrawal and other ostentatious signs of a mental health shift, according to the National Institutes of Health. Nassir Ghaemi, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard, notes that family is essential for diagnosing depression as those very young or old can have more difficulty self-evaluating their mental problems. He takes it even further for cases of mania during depression:

“Our research shows that 50 percent of patients are not even aware they are manic when experiencing mania. Family members recognize manic symptoms twice as often,” Ghaemi says.

Manic depression is more commonly referred to as bipolar disorder in current mental health literature, says John M. Grohol, Psy.D., as an effort to lessen confusion between this illness and depressive disorder.

Bipolar disorder is distinguished from depression as diagnosis requires at least one episode of mania at a point in the patient’s life. Grohol defines symptoms of mania as:

  • Feeling excessively happy or confident to unrealistic levels
  • Intense aggressiveness others may find off-putting
  • Racing thoughts and speech, making focus difficult or impossible
  • Inflated sense of self
  • Risk-taking with money, relationships and even sex life
  • Engaging in dangerous behavior, such as reckless driving or drug abuse
  • Little to no sleep for days on end

Bipolar disorder can create havoc in families without coping strategies. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., suggests families look for a buildup of symptoms in patients. Some bipolar patients ramp up energy levels over the course of months or days. Periods of sleep may shorten with little to no repercussions.

Tartakovsky advises families learn the unique signs of manic episodes in their loved ones that no one else could recognize. She does caution families against confusing ordinary excitement with a manic episode.

If an episode is indeed coming on, people with bipolar disorder can set limits during the mania by limiting financial access and putting a lid on dangerous activities. Those treating the patient can make an effort to curb his or her risky ideations. For example, if the bipolar person wants to make a spur of the moment investment in the stock market during a manic period, caregivers might ask him or her to wait a week and see how the markets look at a later date.

Loved ones should recognize a bipolar person’ limits, Tartakovsky says, and call medical or law enforcement interventions when the patient has lost control. Attend support groups, as mental illness in the family is an incredible burden, no matter how loved the patient.

Support groups can benefit both those caring for a person with a mental health disorder as well as those dealing with a bipolar and/or depression-related diagnosis. Bipolar and related disorders benefit from care in depression treatment centers California and depression rehab centers in Los Angeles. Call the Depression Treatment Centers of California today at 855-678-0400 for a referral.


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