Help with Relationships

Depression and bipolar disorder pose a challenge not just to our health, but to our closest relationships as well. As friends and partners struggle against the fallout of guilt, confusion, and anger, genuine affection and/or intimacy often become difficult to maintain. Below are several resources to help you better understand and navigate relationships with your loved one.

How can I let my loved one know I'm here to help?

Learning how to navigate in an ever-changing world that is still relatively new to mental health treatment can be overwhelming and sometimes isolating not only for those who live with a mood disorder, but also their friends and loved ones. The DBSA I’m here... campaign offers suggestions—for both people living with a mood disorder and those who support—on ways to open up a channel for communication and to say, “I’m here...” Listen to or read advice from other friends and family members on ways to offer help or start the conversation. Learn more.

It's complicated.

Relationships, whether you live with a mood disorder or not, are complicated. "The Face of Relationships" video* story by Lisa C. of Mariposa, California, shares stories from several people on the challenges and strategies of building and maintaining relationships for individuals living with mood disorders.

 *This video won 2nd place in the 2007 Facing Us Video Contest, a prelude to the 2007 launch of the Facing Us Clubhouse. The goal of this art, video and PSA contest was to highlight the “face” of bipolar disorder and depression and to supply tools to those “facing” the challenges of living with these illnesses.

What about intimacy issues?

Mood disorders can place a strain on intimate relationships, because of sexual indiscretions that may happen during manic episodes or lack of sexual interest that may occur during depressive episodes. Some medications may also cause sexual side effects that can be frustrating for both partners. Your loved one may want to talk to the doctor about switching medications if sexual side effects become troublesome. Counseling for the two of you can also be helpful.

DBSA's Restoring Intimacy webinar, presented by Anita Clayton, M.D. and Holly Swartz, M.D., takes a realistic look at the challenges as well as practical ways to make intimate relationships work better under such conditions.