Convincing a person with bipolar disorder to see a doctor
Aside from offering emotional support, the best way to help someone with bipolar disorder is by encouraging and supporting treatment. However, people with bipolar disorder tend to lack insight into their condition, so it’s not always easy to get them to a doctor. When they’re manic, they feel great and don’t realize there’s a problem. When they’re depressed, they may recognize something’s wrong, but lack the energy to seek help.
If your loved one won’t acknowledge the possibility of bipolar disorder, don’t argue about it. The idea may be frightening to the person, so be sensitive. Suggest a routine medical checkup instead, or a doctor’s visit for a specific symptom, such as insomnia, irritability, or fatigue (you can call ahead to tell the doctor of your bipolar disorder concerns).
Things you can say that might help:
- Bipolar disorder is a real illness, like diabetes. It requires medical treatment.
- You’re not to blame for bipolar disorder. You didn’t cause it. It’s not your fault.
- You can feel better. There are many treatments that can help.
- When bipolar disorder isn’t treated, it usually gets worse.
Once your friend or family member agrees to see a doctor, you can help by being a partner in treatment. Your support can make a big difference in treatment success, so offer to be involved in any way the person with bipolar disorder wants or needs.
Things you can do to support a loved one’s bipolar disorder treatment:
- Find qualified doctors and therapists
- Set up appointments and going along
- Offer your insight to the doctor
- Monitor your loved one’s moods
- Learn about the person’s medications
- Track treatment progress
- Watch for signs of relapse
- Alert the doctor to problems