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Bipolar affective disorder or manic depression is a psychiatric disorder characterized by alternating intervals of mania and depression. There are many variations in the clinical picture of manic depression, but manic phases are generally characterized by high energy levels, over-excitement, irritability, mindlessness, and poor decision-making skills. On the other hand, depressive episodes are come with low self-esteem, worthlessness, chronic fatigue, and sometimes even suicidal ideas.

Coping Difficulties

In addition to the main problems that this disorder brings, patients are also confronted with social functioning difficulties in every aspect of life including school, workplace, friends, and family. Studies dealing with social adaptation of patients with bipolar affective disorder have found that partners of these patients usually became confused at the onset of the disease. Partners often feel helpless as they are unable to control the situation, they never know what is going to happen next and yet they feel obligated to take care of their loved one. Different kinds of problems appear, such as family planning, sex life, and finances. While partners in normal marriages can rely on each other during difficult situations, partners of people with this disorder often feel all alone as they do not get back the care they give to their partner. The fact that the disease is not temporary but chronic and in some cases progressive makes the situation even worse. Partners of people with Bipolar reported having feelings similar to grief over the loss of a loved one, the parent of their children, and of life as it could have been.


Accepting that life will never be the same is difficult, but it should happen gradually. The most important factors in this process are education about the illness and growing experience that both patient and partner are gathering year after year. Professional help from a psychologist can be very helpful to begin coping with the situation. After some time, the partner will get used to the changing behavior of the patient and re-establish self-confidence.

If you are the partner of a person with bipolar affective disorder, remember that it is normal to feel confused and hopeless at first.

As soon as you accept their condition, you will both grow and become happy again despite the illness, even if it sounds impossible at the moment. You will gradually get used to behavioral patterns of your partner, you will learn how to deal with them and nothing will be able to surprise you about that anymore.

You might not see it now, but your situation may have some positive sides. You will learn to appreciate the important things in life and to make only short-term plans. Think about that and talk about that with your psychologist.

Try to learn all you can about the illness, as that will make it less strange to you and you will know how to act in difficult situations. Gather experience from everyday events and talk to other people dealing with the same issues. Perhaps you can find some support groups where you can hear the experiences of other people, as well as sharing yours and helping others.

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