• Fort Lauderdale Wellness

How can bipolar disorder affect relationships?


Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and affects the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. People with bipolar disorders often have extreme and intense emotional states that occur at unpredictable times, called mood episodes. These mood episodes are categorized as manic, hypomanic or depressive. As serious as this issue is, there is not just one but four types of bipolar disorders.


These mood episodes inevitably affect their interactions with the people close to them. On one day, the person might be kind and loving while they might be cold and distant on another day. Sometimes, they might desire and enjoy sex, but not want sex or affection at other times.


In the manic/hypomanic phases, a person with bipolar disorder would be fun, interesting, talkative, upbeat and full of energy. However, they can become irritable in this phase. There are higher chances of them disagreeing with their partner during a manic episode. If that happens on a regular basis, there are bound to be conflicts between the couple. Moreover, people tend to indulge in risk-taking behaviours, such as spending sprees, binge drinking, promiscuity and breaking laws during a manic episode. These behaviours create conflicts in a relationship and threaten the stability of a family.


On the other hand, there are the depressive phases, during which a person might withdraw themselves from everything and everyone around them. They may become less communicative. They are engulfed in feelings of hopelessness and pessimism. In most cases, they want to help their partners get out of the depressive phase but they don’t know how to do that. Low self-esteem may reduce a person’s sex drive, and might also make them less affectionate. This often makes their partner feel rejected, taking it as a loss of interest in the relationship.


If untreated, one may receive abusive behaviour from their partner with bipolar disorder. It could be verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse. When people get into a relationship, they look for stability. And that is one trait lacking in relationships involving someone with bipolar disorder. It can become very challenging for a person to be in a stable relationship with someone suffering from bipolar disorder. There are times when the partner of someone with bipolar disorder feels helpless. There are incessant arguments, crying bouts, and other indulgent behaviours that threaten a relationship. Most of the marriages involving someone with bipolar disorder end up failing. But that does not mean a person with bipolar disorder should not get into a relationship and have a family. If one sees any of the symptoms of bipolar disorder in themselves or someone close to them, they should get it immediately diagnosed by a mental health professional.


It is imperative to treat bipolar disorder for any person to maintain a healthy relationship with their partner/spouse. To seek help regarding bipolar disorder, schedule an appointment with Fort Lauderdale Behavioural Wellness here.

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