Caregivers, Family & Friends
Depression and Bipolar Disorders affect millions of people. The caregivers of individuals diagnosed are affected too. You may be feeling helpless, overwhelmed, confused and hopeless, or you may feel hurt, angry, frustrated and resentful. You may also have feelings of guilt, shame and isolation, or feelings of sadness, exhaustion and fear. All of these feelings are normal.
What you need to know as a Caregiver
- Your loved one’s illness is not your fault or your loved one’s fault
- You cannot make your loved one well, but you can offer support, understanding and hope
- Each person experiences depression or bipolar disorder differently, with different symptoms
- The best way to find out what your loved one needs from you is by asking direct questions
A plan for the Caregiver
- Contact information (including emergency numbers) for your loved one's doctor, therapist and psychiatrist, your local hospital and trusted friends and family members who can help in a crisis
- Whether you have permission to discuss your loved one's treatment with his or her doctors, and if not, what you need to do to get permission
- The treatments and medications your loved one is receiving, any special dosage instructions and any needed changes in diet or activity
- The most likely warning signs of a worsening manic or depressive episode (words and behaviors), and what you can do to help
- What kind of day-to-day help you can offer, such as doing housework or grocery shopping
What you can say that may be helpful
- You are not alone in this, I am here for you
- I understand you have a real illness that causes these thoughts and feelings
- I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help
- You are important to me, your life is important to me
- Tell me what I can do to help you right now
- I am here for you, we will get through this together
Phrases that may not be helpful
- It is all in your head
- We all go through times like this
- You will be fine, stop worrying
- Look on the bright side
- You have so much to live for; why do you want to die?
- Just snap out of it
- Stop acting crazy
- What is wrong with you?
- Shouldn’t you be better by now?
How long will it take before the person feels better?
As a friend or family member of someone who is coping with bipolar disorder or depression, your support is an important part of working toward wellness. You can play a critical role in your loved one’s care and road to recovery.
For additional internet resources for caregivers, family members and friends: Click Here
If you're interested in attending a support group to learn more about depression and to talk to other people with similar experiences, please