Family Support for a Depressed Bipolar Spouse

There are some diseases that extend their reach beyond the person affected and corrode the very family structure that helps the individual weather all storms. One such disease is bipolar disorder. With its rapid cycles of depression and mania, it can change the lives of those who live with the afflicted person.

One reason could be that bipolar disorder is sometimes not diagnosed in time, or even if it is, some people may shy away from accepting it and seeking help. The reasons for this could be social stigma as well. Nevertheless, one of the other reasons that could affect the whole family of the bipolar individual is the inadequate social support that the family receives.

Children of depressed bipolar sufferers tend to be ignored, and this could very well alter the fabric of their life. Even when the well spouse takes charge of the family, it can be frightening and can cause a lot of anxiety for the family.

What is needed is a holistic approach to treating bipolar depression, not just in the afflicted individual, but the entire family as a whole. Today, there are many support groups for families of people who suffer from bipolar depression. The internet is also a wonderful resource for those who need help regarding depressive bipolar disorder.

There are plenty of support websites where you can seek help not just for the afflicted person, but for the family as well. However, not many reach out and use these services. This is because of the lack of awareness regarding the help that is available to people.

If someone in your family has been diagnosed with bipolar depression, you will have to make it your prerogative to help that person. You cannot stay disconnected from this problem while someone you love or care for is undergoing mental trauma. While supporting the said person, however, you need to remember that you need support and help too.

Fear of social stigma for the person suffering from depressive bipolar disorder and his/her family can naturally affect the treatment process. The family of the person suffering from bipolar depression has to offer unhindered support, but in the face of all obstacles, this can be very difficult.

Immediate family, neighbors, and friends can create their own support system to help a family cope with a bipolar person. However, for this to happen, people need to be well informed about bipolar disorder and believe that a mental illness does not equate to a life of hopelessness.

Should I Divorce My Cheating Bipolar Husband?

Living with a bipolar husband is a challenging experience on its own. But when his mood disorder is compounded with infidelity, the situation can reach a crisis level.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood variations from mania to depression and there’s typically plenty of risky behavior in between. One of the worst is the connection between bipolar and cheating– adultery.

Even couples on the brink of divorce who are not facing bipolar issues often arrive there because of infidelity. It’s indeed hard to forgive these breeches of trust. But for bipolar husbands who cheat, the adultery for the spouse is like rubbing salt into an already open wound.

The first question that arises most often is…

“Should I allow my husband to get away with cheating on me because he blames it on his bipolar disorder?”

In other words, is a doctor-approved diagnosis of bipolar disorder a “get out of jail free” card for a cheating husband?

Does Society Condone Cheating from Bipolar Husbands?

Certainly, society has become more accepting of mental illness and there are plenty of public examples of bad behavior being blamed on a chronic mental condition.

Take, for instance, the recent case of New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner who apologized for his inappropriate “sexting” behavior by announcing he was going for treatment of his undisclosed “condition.” Speculation about his diagnosis ranged from an obsessive sex addiction to a narcissistic personality disorder at the root of his scandal, and he ultimately resigned from office.

In another story, a banker was penalized with a milder sentence for an outrageous theft because he was found to be suffering from depression.

Many bipolar husbands and wives use their condition as an excuse to seek out extra-marital affairs during the manic phase. A heartfelt apology is many times enough for someone’s human frailties to be overlooked, excused or forgiven.

The dilemma is the confusion over morality vs. biology. If someone with a mental disorder cheats, lies or is unfaithful, it’s common for this behavior to be more exaggerated than in someone who cheats who is not mentally ill. For example, sex addicts are known to be controlled by their urges, as opposed to most of society who feels the impulse but uses introspection and morality to respond.

Why Do Some Wives Put Up with Bipolar Lying and Cheating?

Wives want to know: Should I hate the sin or the sinner? Should I divorce my cheating bipolar husband.

To answer these questions, you must evaluate how your spouse’s behavior impacts your sense of self-worth. How much you can handle the cheating, the lying and the adultery which is likely never to end because it’s compulsive. Are you are willing to go the distance and participate in your husband’s therapy? Is he even willing to go?

Since there is no cure for bipolar disorder, just management of symptoms, are you willing to take the plunge and live with someone who hurts you emotionally and continues to “get away with it” because they have a doctor-diagnosed excuse?

14 Questions To Ask Your Future Bipolar Husband’s Psychiatrist-Part 1

Contemplating marriage to someone with bipolar disorder? Your marriage will not be like any of your friends’ or family who do not have to deal with this extra relationship challenge. 

Here are 15 questions to ask the psychiatrist about your future husband or wife if he/she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

  1. How can I participate in my future bipolar husband’s/wife’s therapy plan?
  2. What are the potential long-term side effects of lithium and/or other psychiatric drug treatements?
  3. Is there a chance that the medication prescribed now will become ineffective? If yes, what happens then?
  4. How will other medications or alcohol affect my fiancee over time if he gets sick, has bad allergies or drinks too much?
  5. What if the dosage on the medication(s) is too high? What does medicinal toxicity look like? Is a blood test twice a year enough to detect this?
  6. Will my bipolar future husband or wife ever be “cured?” Will he/she ever be able to stop taking medication?
  7. Are there other treatment options besides medication?
  8. What are the bipolar disorder “warning signals” I should watch out for?
  9. What are the risks to our marriage? What’s the worst that could happen? What are the chances of that happening?
  10. Should we have children? What are the chances we’ll pass bipolar disorder to them? Is that an ethical consideration? Or a medical one?
  11. Will bipolar disorder medication affect my future bipolar husband’s or wife’s ability to have children?
  12. All things being equal, what percentage of a “normal” life can we hope to have together if he/she stays on a treatment plan?
  13. How will bipolar disorder affect my future husband’s/wife’s ability to get medical insurance?
  14. Does medical treatment for bipolar disorder shorten somebody’s lifespan or damage health or organs?
  15. What should I be asking you about marriage to a bipolar husband or wife that I haven’t asked you yet?

Obviously, this is a lot of ground to cover with a medical professional. But even if it takes more than one session with your future bipolar husband’s/wife’s psychiatrist to get these questions answered, you’ll want to take your time in absorbing the enormity and ramifications of the answers.

No doubt you’ll want to discuss the answers with your future spouse, as well.  Better to be informed as possible before you walk down the aisle than to be surprised with information you hadn’t considered after the wedding.

Coping with a Bipolar Husband Is a Family Affair

With a bipolar husband in the family, sometimes avoidance is easier than communicating. That’s what Mary J resorted to with her bipolar husband. “His verbal abuse got so bad I just avoided him,” said Mary J. of her husband, who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

It’s not uncommon for wives of bipolar husbands, like Mary, to instinctively shut down all lines of communication rather than to address the negative behaviors that bipolar disorder causes. Unfortunately this can make a bipolar marriage situation worse by triggering more dysfunctional behavior.

Online research about bipolar disorder and, especially searching for help in dealing with a bipolar husband, was how Mary found the book, “70 Signs of Depression: Recognize and Cope with Your Loved One’s Clinical or Manic Depression.”

The book provided her with proactive tools for dealing with a bipolar loved one. “70 Signs of Depression gave me the knowledge, even the words to use, to start really helping my husband and our marriage get back on track,” she added (Mary’s full name has been withheld to protect her family’s privacy.)

Crafted from the hands-on knowledge of thousands of bipolar victims and their family members by Marlee Fisher, a best selling ghostwriter-turned author and Certified Faculty Member of NAMI, the National Alliance For the Mentally Ill, “70 Signs of Depression” takes readers into the minds of bipolar disorder sufferers by uncovering the illness’ 70 Signs, 4 Emotional Trip Wires and 2 Defense Mechanisms. It then provides proven step-by-step strategies and techniques to help co-manage each of them.

“The non-communication between Mary and her husband is all too common,” stated the author. Members of the medical and mental health communities endorse this book as a page-turning must-read for anyone with a bipolar spouse, family member or friend.

Fisher wrote her book to offer an easy-to-understand look inside bipolar disorder, alongside firsthand know-how from thousands of bipolar co-victims that readers can use to help themselves and their own ill loved ones immediately.

Then she details the step-by-step strategies and proactive techniques, including the exact words, that have already helped others deal with a bipolar loved one.

This book is based on the author’s personal experience as a bipolar co-victim, including her years of extensive research meeting with psychiatrists, M.D.s, psychologists and social workers; actively participating in NAMI support groups; serving as a NAMI faculty member and interviewing thousands of bipolar victims, their family members and friends.

The result is an in-depth and easy-to-understand look inside bipolar disorder, often written in its victims’ own words, that reveals valuable first-hand insights and expert hands-on knowledge.

Researchers Pool Resources in Largest Study of Genetic Factors Leading to Bipolar Disorder Episodes

For a long time now, researchers have suspected a genetic link to bipolar disorder. But they’ve not been able to find it conclusively.

In a new study, doctors pooled resources to create the largest genetic analysis of its kind to date for bipolar disorder and discovered machinery involved in the balance of sodium and calcium in brain cells as a root cause.

“Faced with little agreement among previous studies searching for the genomic hot spots in bipolar disorder, these researchers pooled their data for maximal statistical power and unearthed surprising results,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. “Improved understanding of these abnormalities could lead to new hope for the millions of Americans affected by bipolar disorder.”

Researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, found an association between the disorder and variation in two genes that make components of channels that manage the flow of the elements into and out of cells, including neurons.

2 Proteins at Fault in Disrupting Ions that Regulate Neuron Firings

Doctors found that two proteins may be involved in disrupting the ions that regulate whether neurons can fire properly. “Finding statistically robust associations linked to two proteins that may be involved in regulating such ion channels — and that are also thought to be targets of drugs used to clinically to treat bipolar disorder — is astonishing,” said Pamela Sklar, M.D., Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who led the research.

Sklar, Shaun Purcell, Ph.D., also of MGH and the Stanley Center, and Nick Craddock, M.D., Ph.D., of Cardiff University and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortiuum in the United Kingdom and a large group of international collaborators reported on their findings online on Aug. 17 , 2008 in Nature Genetics.

In the first such genome-wide association study for bipolar disorder, NIMH researchers last fall reported the strongest signal associated with the illness in a gene that makes an enzyme involved the action of the anti-manic medication lithium. However, other chromosomal locations were most strongly associated with the disorder in two subsequent studies.

Bipolar Disorder Thought To Involve Many Gene Variants

Since bipolar disorder is thought to involve many different gene variants, each exerting relatively small effects, researchers need large samples to detect relatively weak signals of illness association.

To boost their odds, Sklar and colleagues pooled data from the latter two previously published and one new study of their own. They also added additional samples from the STEP-BD study and Scottish and Irish families, and controls from the NIMH Genetics Repository. After examining about 1.8 million sites of genetic variation in 10,596 people — including 4,387 with bipolar disorder — the researchers found the two genes showing the strongest association among 14 disorder-associated chromosomal regions.

Variation in a gene called Ankyrin 3 (ANK3) showed the strongest association with bipolar disorder. The ANK3 protein is strategically located in the first part of neuronal extensions called axons and is part of the cellular machinery that decides whether a neuron will fire. Co-authors of the paper had shown last year in mouse brain that lithium, the most common medication for preventing bipolar disorder episodes, reduces expression of ANK3.

Variation in a calcium channel gene found in the brain showed the second strongest association with bipolar disorder. This CACNA1C protein similarly regulates the influx and outflow of calcium and is the site of interaction for a hypertension medication that has also been used in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

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