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How to Speak to Your Friends and Family About Bipolar Disorder

It's really important to have a support system if you have bipolar disorder. If you're worried about talking to your friends and family, watch this video with Sue Varma, MD, for a pep talk.

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Transcript

00:00
JEHAN: Hi, Dr. Varma. I feel like I'm understanding my bipolar disorder better every day. But sometimes feel like my family
00:06
and friends don't always get it. How important is it to have a support system?
00:12
And what can I do to help the people in my life better understand my bipolar disorder? This is so important.
00:19
The peace of having a support system in our lives is crucial.
00:27
A lot of people say, I'm really scared. I don't know how to break the news to my family, I have bipolar disorder.
00:33
How do I tell them? And I say, you know what? Tell them like you would tell them anything else. You have to be the first person that
00:40
has to accept this diagnosis and to believe in it in a stigma-free way. And only then, can you share this knowledge
00:47
with other people. So when you're telling your parents or your friends or your family or partner about it, you can say, listen, I have a mood disorder.
00:54
Here's what it is. Don't get scared. I'm not a different person. I'm still the person you know. But from time to time, I'm going to have these episodes.
01:02
I'm going to get depressed and I'm going to have difficulty getting out of bed. I'm going to have low energy. I'm going to want to eat a lot and I'm not going
01:08
to want to talk to you as much. Or I might have the opposite. I might have symptoms of mania or hypomania, where I think I can take on the world
01:15
and I'm going to have excessive amounts of energy. And I'm going to want to talk to all the time and really fast, and my concentration might be all over the place.
01:22
But again, I'm still the same person. And at the same time, I know what I need to do about it. I'm talking to a treatment provider.
01:29
I'm going to get on medication. And I'm going to need to engage you in being my support system. Are you up for it?

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