All relationships can be challenging at times, and an illness like bipolar disorder, also commonly known as manic depression, can add an extra layer of difficulty and strain on relationships whether they be within families or with other loved ones. If bipolar parents discover that their child also has the disorder, there can be associated feelings of guilt as well as the challenges of dealing with illness itself.
Is Manic Depression Hereditary?
The question of whether bipolar disorder is hereditary has been well researched and documented despite common misconceptions amongst the public. If you have relatives with bipolar disorder then there is an 85%-90% chance that you will not have the illness.
Being close to someone who has bipolar disorder, understanding the illness and knowing what steps to take when mood swings occur can be stressful and confusing as well as putting obvious strain on the relationship. To support the person with bipolar a trusting and respectful relationship is a great help as is the establishment of some kind of action plan of what to do and how best to communicate when warning signs appear.
It can take time for both the individual with bipolar and their loved ones to adjust to the illness, and to accept the long term nature of the illness and its impact on their relationships. It is important to recognise that bipolar illness does not define the person, but having plenty of information about the disorder, and knowing what helps can assist all parties involved.
If you have bipolar or are close to someone with bipolar disorder, the Moodswings website provides a resource for the illness as well as an Online Self Help Program.
Or if you are a close relative, partner or friend who is experienced in dealing with the bipolar disorder of a loved one , and would like to help develop guidelines that could be useful to carers in similar situations see the section for carers on MoodSwings.