Bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression) affects not only the life of the bipolar sufferer, but also the life of their close family and friends. These bipolar carers or caregivers can be a vital source of support to sufferers. However, bipolar carers may be faced with the person's extreme bipolar symptoms and their consequences without much information on bipolar or how to cope. Many bipolar carers report feeling very stressed. The risk of depression and other health problems is high among these carers. If the person is not very ill, things may be easier. Other factors can also help:

Information on bipolar
Research shows that many carers want information on bipolar, mania, bipolar depression, bipolar treatment, ways to help and to deal with bipolar symptoms, bipolar crises and the impact of bipolar on their loved ones and themselves.

Support
Family and friends agree better with a loved one's illness when they have support from health services, peers, family, friends or a counselor.

Acceptance
A diagnosis of bipolar in the family or a close friend can be hard to accept. Some degree of acceptance is necessary to work out how best to deal with bipolar and adjust to the changes it can bring.

Hope
Many carers worry about the person and the future. However, as they and their loved ones find ways to deal with bipolar and adjust to the changes they find new hope.

Boundaries
The person and the carer benefit from maintaining some independent interests and identity. Even a little time out or reply can help carers to feel refreshed and maintain perspective.

Mastery
Knowing ways to deal with their caring situation can make close family and friends feel less helpless. This does not mean curing or controlling the person's bipolar. Rather, a sense of mastery occurs when carers have a healthy appreciation of their limits but find helpful ways to tackle problems, make changes (even small changes) or make the most of things that can not change.

Finding out what works to deal with the bipolar disorder of a loved one can be a trial and error process. The first step is get reliable information on bipolar to educate yourself and to better understand the disease, and the available treatments.

Working together with the bipolar sufferer will involve different levels of support at different times. There are many resources which can support you in your own health and that of the bipolar person.

http://www.bipolarcaregivers.org is a freely available information source for family and friends dealing with the bipolar of a loved one.