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Form a Support Network

The following is an Editorial Resource from YourTotalHealth.

Reviewed by:  Steven A. King, M.D.

bipolar support“Bipolar disorder is an illness that really needs the involvement of family, and sometimes friends, to help monitor and encourage people to stay on their medicines,” says Wayne C. Drevets, M.D., Chief of the Section on Neuroimaging in Mood and Anxiety Disorders at the NIMH. “That’s because your insight can be affected when you have bipolar disorder. When depressed, you might think you're too depressed for anything to be helpful. During episodes of mania, you may be totally dysfunctional and yet not recognize that something is wrong.”

  • Encourage loved ones to help you. Let people who love you and whom you trust tell you when you need help. “The more love and support from people you can allow into the circle of your truth, the better,” says Ken Duckworth, M.D., Medical Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “If you can talk about your illness and not be ashamed of it, then the people around you may feel safer giving you feedback.”

  • Join a support group. Studies show that adherence to therapy is increased when people with bipolar disorder participate in support groups with others who have the illness. To find a bipolar support group in your own area, call your local chapter of the , or locate a support group through the .

  • Put your wishes in writing. If you want to raise your odds of sticking to treatment, consider creating a Psychiatric Advanced Directive (PAD). It’s a document that you can draw up with your doctor and your lawyer that spells out what you want should you get sick. “The idea is to use your competent self to direct your treatment for when you’re ill,” says Dr. Duckworth. “If you experience severe mania or depression and you can’t speak for yourself at that time, you will already have your wishes in writing.” You can state specifically what hospital you want to be taken to, what doctor you want to treat you and what medications you prefer—or want to avoid. For more information about putting together an advanced directive, and to learn the laws in your state regarding them, refer to the .

What's Next: Know Your Family History


Review Date: May 01, 2009


Ask Your Doctor

bipolar disorderBefore you go to your doctor’s office, be prepared to ask these questions, according to your situation:


More Resources

Bipolar disorder


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