Social Work Programs

October 26, 2009

Coping with Bipolar Disorder:A Difficult Condition

Filed under: bipolar disorder — Tags: — admin @ 1:15 am

Bipolar disorder is a challenge to the patient, family and the therapist. In the past it was called manic-depressive disorder. It usually begins during the teen years or in one’s twenties and can be misdiagonsed for a number of years. This is unfortunate since it delays treatment. Because adolescence already has mood swings and periods of both mania and depression, it can be misunderstood as just a phase.

Mood disorders can contain an emphasis on sadness and a sense of hopelessness or the opposite - a feeling of expansiveness, excess energy and a racing quality. Many people are mixed and alternate these states in cycles. Due to the episodes, many suffering from bipolar like isolation to avoid dealing with discussions with others about it. Even if you think you are not a "medication type", medication for bipolar disorder is important to bring stability into one's life. This also is helpful to prevent impulsive decisions that might involve illegal drugs, gambling, shopping sprees or other excessive activities.

Often it works best to see both a psychiatrist and a social worker or mental health counselor. The psychiatrist can do the medication management and the counseling sessions with the social worker or counselor can help one identify the patterns, review the triggers and establishing healthier coping skills.

Since bad decisions are common during an episode, studying these mistakes and preparing ways to deal with the episodes are important. A therapist can help someone recognize the euphoria and flights of ideas as well as develop strategies during the depressive phase where there may be acute sadness, sense of worthlessness or feelings of inadequacy. Medication compliance is also important and it's useful to enlist a family member to help with this.

Doing a good family history is important to see the role this plays in the bipolar condition. Sometimes someone will adapt similar behaviors to a parent or sibling that also suffers from bipolar disorder. Treatment is important and can make a big difference in one's social life, relation to work or school performance. I have worked with bipolar clients that can hold jobs successfully and run businesses as well, so know that proper care can be helpful to the quality of one's life and management of this disorder and it's symptoms.


  1. A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

    Comment by Sue Massey — October 26, 2009 @ 1:31 am

  2. It seems that everyone used the term bipolar now so casually. I always here at work someone saying about a co-worker, “He’s bipolar” whenver someone is moody. I think this is not really a good use of the term as it takes away the importance of this being a psychological diagnosis requiring monitoring by trained professionals.

    Comment by Maureen — October 29, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

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