Bipolar Disorder and Relationships

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Relationships can be difficult to maintain for everyone, even under the best of circumstances. When one (or both) of the people in a romantic relationship have bipolar disorder, maintaining that relationship becomes even more challenging.

Strain on Romantic Relationships

Most people are looking for stability in their relationship, and the mood swings and personality changes that are characteristic of bipolar can make this difficult. During a severe manic episode, a partner with bipolar might spend the couple's money recklessly, engage in risky behaviors that could include drug and alcohol abuse or even promiscuity, or get in trouble with the law. And during a depressive episode, the bipolar partner might withdraw and refuse to take part in family life. These difficulties are why some statistics suggest that as many as 90% of marriages involving an individual with bipolar disorder end in divorce.

Tips for Relationship Success

Despite all the challenges inherent in a relationship involving a person with bipolar disorder, it is not impossible for it to be successful. The most important step to a successful relationship is to get a diagnosis of bipolar and begin treatment. When the illness has been named and steps are being taken to control it, it becomes easier for both partners to deal with. Ideally, the non-bipolar partner will take part in therapy sessions and treatment decisions, and become educated on bipolar disorder. With consistent treatment and today's medications, most people with bipolar disorder can live very successful lives that include fulfilling relationships.