Managing Close Relationships When Moods Pull Them Apart

Even when someone isn’t in the throes of mania or depression, the specter of another episode may loom, causing doubt and anxiety that can affect day-to-day interactions and can result in relationship burnout.

Knowing how to manage and nurture important bonds, despite the challenges, can make all the difference. Being able to cultivate greater self-awareness and to set healthy boundaries is key—and can lead to a new level of understanding in your relationships.

“The more self-aware and insightful someone is into what’s happening, the better,” says Helen M. Farrell, MD, a psychiatrist and instructor at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “It can be a little painful to recognize, but on the positive side, it can be an impetus for change.”

Withdrawal and reconnection

Two studies offering insight into the link between bipolar and emotional bonds shed light on why supportive, meaningful relationships—while unequivocally possible—can take a lot of work to sustain.

In findings published in May 2017 in Molecular Psychiatry, the largest MRI study to date on patients with bipolar found there is a thinning of gray matter in regions of the brain responsible for inhibition and emotion.

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