4) Quality of Life

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I have a family member who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder over 10 years ago. They seem to be quite depressed right now and they do not have much for social support besides myself. I am concerned that their quality of life is not very high but I don’t know what I can do to help. Any suggestions?

In order to determine how your family member is feeling about their quality of life it is important to ask them. Work with them to improve their quality of life. You are right to be concerned about their quality of life as research shows that quality of life for people with bipolar disorder is often lower than for other people (25, 26). So, just how do people stay well? Information has been provided under the “Education” section (Educating Oneself) and other important areas to consider are:

  • identifying triggers,
  • recognizing warning signs,
  • managing sleep and stress (which fall under the category of “Consistent Routines”),
  • making lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, exercising, decreasing alcohol and caffeine intake, sleeping well,
  • spending time with loved ones,
  • having quiet times,
  • managing stress, and
  • laughing (57).

There are many areas where you can assist with the above list of wellness strategies. These strategies can help anyone and everyone stay well – not just the person with bipolar disorder!

If your family member is feeling depressed right now, it might take them some time to recover from symptoms and their functioning may be compromised (38). Also, as discussed under the social support section (Social Support), perceived or actual low levels of social support can impact quality of life in a negative way (25). Connecting your family member to social supports available in your community or online may be one way of improving quality of life.

One must have a baseline in order to know if their quality of life is seemingly up or down – when your family member is feeling well have them take a real look at the various factors that influence their subjective quality of life. Try to offer your family member hope – this can have an impact on how they feel about their quality of life (50). Also, work with them to figure out if they have any care needs that are not met as this is a strong predictor of low quality of life (25).

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