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Manic Depression And Family Support

Aug 5, 2008
When someone you love has been diagnosed with manic depression the first reaction can actually be one of relief. You finally know what is wrong, and there is a name for it. There is also help and medication to stabilize the extremes of the illness. That relief is often quickly followed by fear. That is completely normal, and allowing yourself to acknowledge that you are afraid of what issues and hardships dealing with this illness will cause and the impact it will have on your family will help you sort out the things you need to do to make it a smoother and more effective transition to caring for your loved one.

Manic Depression is not something your family member can simply get over. It is important to realize that the problems they are experiencing are caused by an illness, not by any decision made by them. You have probably become quite aware of their extremes in mood and now that you know what is causing it, you can use a clear head to remain calm during times of crisis and help talk them down, or up as the need arises.
There are practical needs that you can use to assist your family member with in learning how to control the affects of the illness. Helping them remember to take their medicines at the appropriate times is one of the biggest things that you and your family member will have to become accustomed to. It can be a great help to make a chart showing exactly when to take the prescribed medicines. Gentle reminders with the assurance that you are not trying to control them, but instead, just trying to help them make sure they continue with their recovery can be helpful in making sure this vital area is covered.

When they need someone to talk to, be there. That is probably one of the most helpful things you can do to provide support for your family member dealing with manic depression. You do not have to have the answers to their problems. You just need to be a willing listener who will provide an understanding ear without judging them for their feelings or problems.
Make sure that daily tasks are broken down into manageable projects. This will provide your loved one with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of independence. You will be able to help them adjust to their lives and continue being productive.

Another very important role you can play in supporting your loved one through impending crisis, is to be a first alert to on-coming trouble. It is sometimes difficult for the patient dealing with manic depression to recognize the early signs of either side of the mood swings. If you see them becoming hyper, talking rapidly, having scattered thoughts, or being unable to concentrate on any one thing, or doing other excessive things like shopping, or eating excessively, Alert them gently to the beginnings of a problem they should seek the advice of their psychiatrist on. Perhaps an adjustment to their medications will be necessary.

Conversely if you see the opposite side of manic depression manifesting itself in the inability to get out of bed, the feeling of being overwhelmed by even simple projects, feeling exhausted, and even saying things like "you would be better off without me" or other signs of severe depression it is also time to alert your loved one to the need for help. Never ignore the signs of depression as they can escalate rapidly to dangerous levels.

You and your family can live happy, well-adjusted lives once you get past the initial shock and fear of their diagnosis. Learning how to best handle the swings and crisis of both sides of the manic depressive coin will give you the security of a long, and happy life.
About the Author
Ronen David is the chairman of "Malam" (an Israeli organization supporting and representing those dealing with mental disabilities). He is the author of the "How to Cope With Psychosis & Schizophrenia Self Help Handbook".
Visit his web site and learn Dealing With Depression
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