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What Goes on in a Bipolar Support Group?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Living with bipolar disorder can be difficult for the sufferer, as well as his or her family and friends. Support groups are often recommended by doctors as part of the treatment for bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. Common activities in a bipolar support group are regular meetings with access to information, resource recommendations and social interaction between members.

The social aspects of a bipolar support group can be helpful since many people with the disorder can alienate friends and relatives from their lives during manic or depressive episodes. During manic cycles, bipolar people may not sleep regularly and engage in impulsive, even harmful behavior. In their depressive episodes, those suffering from bipolar disorder may be lethargic, difficult to communicate with or extremely irritable.

Many bipolar support groups encourage communication between group members beyond the scope of the regular meetings. Having a friend who is also bipolar can work in many ways. The person will be understanding toward the disorder and knows what to expect, and can also help lessen feelings of guilt and shame.

Many bipolar people feel shameful or guilty because of their behavior when they're depressed or manic. During support group meetings, discussions about these types of feelings are common, as this can help manic depression sufferers realize that other people with the disorder have similar experiences. Like most support groups, this kind can help people suffering with the disease feel not so alone or different.

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Discussions are the main thing that goes on during a bipolar support group meeting. The moderator of the meeting is typically someone who has a career related to working with bipolar people. He or she usually presents the group with a topic for members to comment on and discuss in the meeting. Many support groups meet weekly or biweekly, but the schedule depends on each particular group.

Information such as new treatments available or tips for coping with manic and depressive cycles are often presented by the group moderator at the meetings. It's important to note that many bipolar support group meetings aren't just open to bipolar sufferers alone, but also their friends and family members in many cases. Attending meetings with their bipolar loved one can be a good way for family and friends to support the person as well as increase their knowledge of the disorder.

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croydon
Post 3

It must be quite difficult to run a bipolar disorder support group, since some of the people in it would find it difficult to stick with a routine. I guess you'd have to make sure there was incentive for them to attend.

umbra21
Post 2

@indigomoth - I would also recommend that people try several different groups if you've got access to them. Not all groups are created equal and you might find a better fit if you find the right one.

I'm not very religious and I thought that was the only thing that really went on in support groups, but I found a bipolar support group that suited my cynicism without being too depressing.

I don't have bipolar myself but my sister does and it's a good mix of people with the disease and people who are friends and family.

When you've grown up around bipolar people it can be almost like you have it yourself and it's very difficult to explain it to people who haven't experienced it. Bipolar group support has been very helpful for me, just knowing there are people I can talk to who will understand.

indigomoth
Post 1

If you're thinking about going to a support group, I would just go and see what it is all about. Generally, if all you want to do is watch, that's cool and they will let you make up your own mind about whether or not you want to come back. There's nothing to lose, really, so you might as well go.

They can be extremely helpful for people who feel like they are all alone in the world. Bipolar disease can be very isolating and a group of people who understand how it all works is definitely a valuable resource.

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