Severe mood fluctuations associated with bipolar disorder may be extremely unpleasant, leaving a person with the impression that they have almost no power over their moods.
When living with a person experiencing these fluctuations, you may also feel that the high amount of energy and instability is exhausting. Another challenge is that people who live with bipolar may often lack insight into the severity of their mania and refuse to take medications or seek treatment.
If you are in a relationship with someone who is bipolar or occasionally finds them difficult to deal with, particularly when they exhibit bipolar anger, you may feel like you're losing a piece of yourself and begin to doubt the relationship's worth. However, before you give up hope, continue reading to learn how to deal with someone who suffers from bipolar disorder and anger.
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Bipolar disorder is a condition that involves mood episodes characterized by mania or depression. Mania is often associated with increased energy, feelings of grandiosity, outbursts of anger, and irritability. People experiencing mania may exhibit risky actions, outlandish demands, violent rants, and irresponsible behavior during a manic episode.
It is common for family members and loved ones to feel like they are left to face repercussions once a manic phase has passed. For instance, you may have to take up the slack for a loved one who lacks the energy to meet commitments at home or work, or you may feel like you have to clean up a mess due to poor financial decisions or risky behavior.
People living with bipolar disorder generally experience episodes of depression following a manic phase. Depression is generally associated with feeling down, lacking interest in activities, and changes in sleeping and eating. However, depression can also be primarily characterized by irritability.
It can be very confusing to friends and family members because depression is more commonly associated with images of someone feeling sad or down. However, a person can be experiencing a depressive episode and behave in ways that reflect their irritable inner state, such as with angry outbursts.
Anger is a common response to certain life conditions but becomes problematic when it occurs frequently and interferes with a person’s quality of life. The structural differences and chemical imbalances associated with bipolar disorder can contribute greatly to emotional dysregulation and exaggerated physiological responses associated with anger. As a result, people living with bipolar disorder often have difficulty controlling their outbursts.
For someone who has bipolar disorder, even minor incidents might trigger them. Small things that would not normally or should not provoke rage result in passionate outbursts and breakdowns. They may even grow enraged in the absence of a cause external to themselves. These responses can be exhausting for those experiencing them as well as for loved ones.
To be in a relationship or living with someone who experiences bipolar anger can be incredibly challenging due to their anger's unpredictability. Remind yourself that it is difficult for your loved one to be in this position as well. At times, they may very well know that their anger is unjustified but cannot suppress it, particularly during a manic phase.
Unexpected fluctuations in mood and activity can characterize bipolar disorder. These mood episodes intrinsic to bipolar disorder might sometimes appear spontaneous and unpredictable, but certain triggers can also cause them. You may be able to identify triggers when a generally easygoing individual starts to grow irritable. You can also look for signs of an impending shift to mania or depression based on certain signs.
Understanding and recognizing the triggers and signs for bipolar disorder is extremely helpful as a part of a treatment plan to help your loved one avoid stressful situations, maintain stable moods, and seek treatment after a reaction has already occurred. It also helps to know what to expect and seek the necessary resources when your loved one is going through a challenging time.
The following are some of the most common early warning signals of a manic episode:
Changes in sleep routines or sleep deprivation
Sleep disruptions can serve as a trigger for depressive episodes and mood shifts. According to research, sleep deprivation is the most frequently reported trigger of mood episodes in people who have bipolar disorder.¹
Drug or alcohol use
Drug and alcohol use for recreational purposes are well-known bipolar disorder triggers resulting in bouts of manic or hypomanic behavior or depressed episodes due to several neurological causes. When it comes to bipolar disorder, heavy, long-term alcohol and drug use is especially a matter of great concern.
However, even casual and occasional use can be a triggering factor for some people, both because drugs or alcohol can disrupt the delicate neurochemical balance and tamper with the effectiveness of psychotropic drugs.
Bereavement and the death of a loved one
When a loved one passes away, it may be difficult and traumatic for anyone involved, even those who do not suffer from a mental health issue. People living with bipolar illness, on the other hand, may experience significant mental effects as a result.
It has been shown that the death of a loved one is associated with the onset of depressive episodes and may worsen pre-existing depression symptoms.² Maladaptive coping mechanisms after a loss can also create additional stress that can lead to or exacerbate a mood episode.
Any form of friction in a relationship can cause stress and lead a person living with bipolar disorder to experience a mood episode. According to a recent study, problematic interpersonal interactions were among the events that sparked suicidal thoughts for individuals who have bipolar disorder.
Regardless of what causes the bipolar person to become angry, the issue remains: how can you cope with a person who is bipolar and angry? Maintaining overall happiness in your relationship is made easier by learning and practicing effective coping mechanisms. As you have a more profound knowledge of the disorder, you'll learn to foresee the anger, and, with practice, you'll learn how to respond appropriately.
The following are some techniques for coping with bipolar anger in a person:
Accept their limitations
Your family member or friend living with bipolar illness is sometimes unable to manage their temperament. They may experience extreme reactions, which can make it very challenging to find balance. It isn’t realistic to expect a person with bipolar disorder to immediately snap out of a depression or regain control of their emotions during a manic episode on their own.
Practice ways for calming them down
With an increased understanding of their moods, triggers, and emotions, you will be capable of sensing their escalating anger. Consider taking action before the situation escalates into frustration or hostility. Experiment with various methods until you find the most effective ones for them.
You can also ask your loved ones what they need during these stressful times to help them find calm. In some instances, you may need to remove yourself from the situation if your presence escalates their response. If your loved one is seeking therapy, you can discuss helpful options in detail with a therapist.
Ensure they are taking their medicine
It's common for people living with bipolar disorder to stop taking their medication as soon as they feel better. As a family member or friend, you should do your best to encourage them to continue taking their meds no matter what. You can talk to them about accountability, habit tracking, and other encouraging ways to help them meet their goals and focus on their wellbeing.
When it comes to dealing with bipolar disease in the family, open and honest communication is key. Express your worries in a caring manner, inquire how your loved one is feeling, and make an effort to fully listen — even if you disagree with your loved one or do not connect to what is being said — to ensure that your loved one feels heard and understood.
Bipolar illness is a chronic condition that must be evaluated and handled on an ongoing basis throughout a lifespan. If you notice the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in someone, encourage them to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Staying silent will not make it go away; on the contrary, it will almost likely exacerbate it. While they may be in remission and doing well, they must be attentive to detecting and coping with possible triggers and collaborating closely with their treating doctors to preserve stability.
Treatment for bipolar disorder can be beneficial and can considerably enhance the overall quality of life if given enough time. To discover the best combination of medications and the most effective dosages might take a long time. Furthermore, finding effective therapy might also take some time.
Finding treatment for bipolar illness, whether you have it yourself or are in a relationship with someone who does, does not have to be difficult. The first step is to have a better understanding of what bipolar disorder looks like. After that, you may identify a therapist in whom you both have confidence and commit to following through with the therapy. You and your loved one should seek professional consultation in order to find the best treatment plan for your situation.
It is your responsibility as a significant other or friend to also prioritize your own health throughout this period of illness. Being a caregiver is a huge duty that may put a strain on your emotional and physical well-being. Taking care of yourself is essential before being able to look after another person.
At the end of the day, there are many available treatment options and health habits that can be used to improve your quality of life and help you manage symptoms such as anger outbursts.