A Bipolar Disorder Intervention may Help Those Resistant to Treatment
Bipolar Disorder is a condition characterized by symptoms of unusually high energy alternating with periods of depression. It’s estimated that 4% of the population experiences these symptoms, but since the disorder may be misdiagnosed as uni-polar depression or something else, the true percentage may not be known. Those suffering from the condition may enjoy the manic state and resist medicinal treatment, claiming the medications “dull them down.” Some don’t care for the side effects of the medication. Unfortunately, without some type of treatment for this mental health problem, hospitalization or worse could result. A bipolar disorder intervention could prevent this type of unwanted result if your loved one resists help.
Also known as manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is like many mental health conditions in the fact that those with the condition may experience their symptoms to different degrees. The mania may be so intense that the sufferer loses touch with reality (psychosis) and makes irrational decisions, or it may be mild enough (hypomania) that it goes unnoticed for awhile. The hallmark of the condition, however, is the depressive downside — both must be present to make a concrete diagnosis, and symptoms must repeat over a period of time. One of the most frustrating challenges for those who have a loved one with this disorder is that resistance to treatment may be common.
How do I Know My Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder or needs a Bipolar Intervention?
You may not know, so it’s always best to let the professionals make that call. The intensely emotional states that characterize the disorder may prove challenging to those who surround the sufferer, especially if your loved one insists there’s nothing wrong. While the mania may fall into the ‘happy’ realm, it doesn’t always. It could manifest as anger, agitation, explosiveness, and hyperactivity. And most don’t dispute the dangers inherent to those in an extreme depressive state, with self-harm or suicide being worst case scenarios. Complicating things even more, those who have ‘mixed state’ episodes may exhibit both states at once! Because the disorder can mimic and/or co-exist with other types of mental health issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, social phobia disorders and substance abuse, many aren’t diagnosed correctly for years.
Generally, by the time a bipolar disorder intervention is warranted, the symptoms have began to wreak havoc on both the sufferer and his loved ones.
Some of the mania symptoms include:
- Extreme changes in energy, activity, mood, sleep and behavior
- Long-lasting periods of unstable moods
- Feeling high, overly happy, or outgoing
- Feeling extremely irritable, agitated or hyper
- Talking fast, jumping from idea to idea, or having racing thoughts
- Being restless or easily distracted
- Increased activity, including engaging in new projects
- Impulsiveness and engagement in high-risk behaviors such as spending sprees, impulsive sex or business investments
- Trouble sleeping
Depressive Symptoms include:
- Long periods of feeling worried, empty or apathetic
- Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities such as sex or hobbies
- Problems with concentration, memory or decision making
- Restlessness and irritability
- Changes in appetite, sleeping (too much or too little) or other regular activities
- Suicidal inclinations
Because these symptoms can range from mild in the hypomania phase to medium (making impulsive decisions or acting erratically), to severe as in psychosis, (distorted sense of reality with or without delusions), those involved with the sufferer may experience great stress, especially if their loved one refuses medical intervention.
Bipolar Disorder Treatments
There are several treatment options to treat bipolar disorder, but they all start with an evaluation by a physician or a mental health professional. Since the disorder is rooted in the genetic makeup of the individual (it can be passed down in one’s family) along with other environmental factors, there are as yet no physiological tests for diagnosis. Typically, diagnosis is made by elimination of physiological disorders such as stroke or brain tumors coupled with a complete diagnostic evaluation by a mental health professional — which should include a history of all symptoms and any family history that may be relevant.
Treatment varies with the individual and the severity of symptoms, but most often includes medication, psychotherapy, education about the disorder and support. In some cases, hospitalization becomes necessary, especially if the sufferer goes off their medication or becomes psychotic. Cognitive behavioral therapy, group and even family therapy are all adjuncts to medication and can help family members understand what they are dealing with and how to help. Unfortunately, since so many resist medication, or have a hard time toughing out finding the right medication (this typically takes trial and error to some degree), your loved one may refuse to help themselves. Some need substance abuse treatment in addition to treating just the disorder, since so many try to self-medicate their symptoms. There also may be co-occurring mental health disorders to consider. Resistance to these treatments is often because bipolar patients may really enjoy the highs and dislike the “dulling down” they may feel is caused by the mood stabilizers. But like antidepressants, medications are not “one-size-fits-all” so it could take time to find the appropriate one. For some, it may take a few medications together to properly treat the individual. And there are those who don’t respond to medication alone, so electroconvulsive therapy or transcranial magnetic stimulation have been tried. But of course, that is only possible if your loved one agrees to get help.
When does a bipolar disorder intervention become necessary?
Because the disorder is challenging for the sufferer and his/her loved ones, avoiding treatment may have dire consequences. So it is never “if” they need treatment — it’s how to lead them there. Even if your loved one knows he has the disorder, it may be impossible to convince him to stay on his medication. IST’s new Family Coach Program may prove to be the answer for those who need one-on-one support to help to get on the right track. Our professional interventionists are trained to deal with those resisting the help so needed to lead a successful, fully-functioning life. Educating the family on enabling behaviors and how to best support their loved one in getting help can be the extra push needed to nudge your loved one into evaluation and treatment. A client can be matched to the appropriate treatment center for their disorder, if needed. Both the loved one and his family are educated about the disorder and how to find the best solution or appropriate treatment approach. The coach sees the process through and ensures that the client receives help while being supported by informed family members. All are coached on aftercare support options and how best to navigate the challenges presented by the disorder. With patience and help, bipolar disorder can be successfully managed, especially with a bipolar disorder intervention from one of our professional interventions.