Whether you or your loved one has bipolar disorder, you can learn to make the relationship work. WebMD archives content after 2 years to ensure our readers can easily find the most timely content. To find the most current information, please enter your speed dating poster template of interest into our search box.
Navigating any romantic relationship -- whether it's dating or marriage -- can be a tricky endeavor. Add bipolar disorder with its roller-coaster ride of emotions into the mix, and relationships become even more challenging. When Jim McNulty, 58, of Burrillville, Rhode Island, got married in the s, everything seemed fine at first. Then the mood swings began. During his "up" or hypomanic states, he would spend huge sums of money he didn't have.
Then he would hit the "down" side and sink into the depths of depression. These wild swings put stress on his marriage and threatened to run his family's finances into the ground. He eventually signed the house over to his wife to protect her and his two young children. Finally, he says, "She asked me to leave because she couldn't live with the illness anymore.
When people get into a relationship, they're looking for stability, says Scott Haltzman, MD. Haltzman is clinical assistant professor in the Brown University department of psychiatry and human behavior. He's also medical director of NRI Community Services in Woonsocket, R. He tells WebMD that bipolar disorder can seriously complicate a relationship.
He adds that not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences the distinct mood phases dating someone with untreated bipolar mania and depression. But when those episodes do occur they can wreak havoc on a dating someone with untreated bipolar. During the manic phase, a person can lose his or her sense of judgment. That means spending money recklessly, becoming dating someone with untreated bipolar, engaging in risky behaviors like drug and alcohol abuseand even getting into trouble with the law.
On the other side of the curve is depression. Depression can cause the person to withdraw completely from everything -- and everyone -- around him or her. Bipolar disorder can become an issue from the very start of a relationship. When you first meet someone you like, it's natural to want to make a good impression. Introducing the fact that you have bipolar disorder may not make for the most auspicious beginning. There is always the fear that you might scare the person off and lose the opportunity to get to know one another.
At some point, though, dating someone with untreated bipolar will need to let your partner know that you are bipolar. Knowing what triggers your cycles of hypomania, mania, and depression and watching out for warning signs that you're entering one or the other phase of the cycle can help you avoid uncomfortable situations in your new relationship. Weissman is professor of epidemiology and psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
She is also chief of the department in clinical-genetic epidemiology at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Warning signs, she says, can include disturbed sleep and changes in activity level. Any number of things, from work stress to money issues, can lead to arguments and put strain on a marriage. But when one partner has bipolar disorder, simple stressors can reach epic proportions.
McNulty watched not only his own marriage fall apart, but the marriages of others with bipolar disorder as well. Having a relationship when you live with bipolar disorder is difficult. But it's not impossible. It takes work on the part of both partners to make sure the marriage survives. The first step is to get diagnosed and treated for your condition. Your doctor can prescribe mood stabilizing medicationssuch as Lithiumwith antidepressants to help control your symptoms.
Therapy with a trained psychologist or social worker is also important. With therapy you can learn to control the behaviors that are putting stress on your relationship. Having your spouse go through therapy with you can help him or her understand why you act the way you do and learn better ways to react. And it will actually increase the sense of bonding.
Though you may want to crawl into your self-imposed cocoon when you're depressed, and feel like you're on top of the world when you're manic, it's important to accept help when it's offered. For the spouse of the bipolar person, knowing when to offer help involves recognizing how your partner is feeling. When one of them notices that the other is starting to slide into depression, he or she will ask, "How do you feel? If you ever think about hurting yourself or committing suicideget help immediately.
Scott Haltzman, MD, clinical assistant professor, department of psychiatry and human behavior, Brown University; medical director, NRI Community Services, Woonsocket, R. Myrna Weissman, PhD, professor of epidemiology and psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; department chief, clinical-genetic epidemiology, New York State Psychiatric Institute. Resources Symptom Checker Expert Blogs and Interviews Message Boards Insurance Guide Find a Doctor View All.
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Bipolar Disorder Feature Stories. What Happens During Delivery", "videoSourceId": What Happens During Labor", "videoSourceId": Dating and Marriage Whether you or your loved one has bipolar disorder, you can learn to make the relationship work.