tips on how to deal with bipolar patient
by Ann Gibson
I don't know the right things to do and say if my son is having an episode, like agitation or psychosis. What can I say to make him feel better? What if he wants to imagine that he has power because he wishes he did have power to change his circumstance?
You have to understand that in a state of mania (which could involve feelings of agitation, or could have psychotic features, like hallucinations or delusions), a person is not simply imagining or wishing or pretending. They are really experiencing intense feelings of energy and power. Once a person crosses a certain line, those experiences are as real to them as anything. In fact, in that hightened state, sometimes people experience a deeper insight into the nature of reality, and stronger intuition. The problem is that they are also likely to have distorted thinking, grandiose ideas, and emotional instability. It never works to deny a person's reality or to disagree with their experience. It's more important to empathize and try to reach some common understanding. Then he might be more open to change. Once a person is manic, it is best to just empathize with their emotions rather than try to rationalize too much.
Keeping stress and stimulation low and encouraging rest is sometimes the most you can offer at those times.
What is far more important is what to do to prevent a future episode of mania or psychosis. Bipolar moods can be minimized with the right approach - which should include weekly psychotherapy or a bipolar support group or both.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT