Answering the most common questions about bipolar support groups.
Bipolar disorder can often make you feel isolated and alone. Between changing moods and the intensity of switching from mania to depression, bipolar can leave you exhausted and with little desire to spend time with others. Those who suffer from mental illness often feel like they are the only ones going through it. I promise you, you’re not the only one.
Joining a support group can help connect you with others who understand what you’re going through. It can also provide you with valuable resources and advice. You can find support groups in many places, such as online, in hospitals, or even in your local community. What follows are things you should keep in mind when thinking about bipolar support groups.
What are the different types of support groups?
There are many different types of support groups, but they all have one common goal: to help people with bipolar disorder live better lives. Some groups focus on providing education about mental health, while others focus on providing emotional support. There are also groups that cover both.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a group is whether or not it is peer-led. This means that people who have bipolar disorder themselves lead the group. These groups can be very helpful because they provide a sense of understanding and empathy that other groups may not provide.
What are the benefits of joining a support group?
There are many benefits to joining a group, but the most important one is that it can help you feel less alone. When you join a group, you will meet other people who understand what you’re going through and can offer advice and encouragement.
Besides meeting other people with bipolar disorder, joining a support group can also provide you with access to resources, such as books, websites, and hotlines. These resources can be extremely helpful in times of need.
What should I look for in a support group?
When looking for a group, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure that a professional or trained peers with bipolar disorder themselves lead the group. This will help ensure that you are getting the most accurate information and support possible.
Second, make sure the group is respectful and supportive. You should feel comfortable sharing your experiences with the other members of the group. Sad to say, some groups like to spiral into dark negativity, and those connections often do more harm than good.
Ideally, you will want a group run by a professional mental health provider. This will help ensure that the group is safe and confidential. However, most online support groups do not have access to a doctor or psychiatrist, but can be just as useful.
You also want to make sure it’s the right option for you, so you should feel safe and welcome in the group. If you don’t connect with the other members, it will be harder for you to open up and benefit from the interaction.
With these things in mind, you can be sure that you will find a group that is right for you.
Are there any things I should consider before joining a bipolar support group?
Bipolar support groups usually offer an environment where everyone can share openly about their experiences with mental illness. You should expect that painful subjects, such as suicidal ideation and self-harm, will come up frequently. For many, discussing these topics can trigger bipolar episodes.
You will want to make sure you are in a good headspace before attending a support session. It’s also good to have a member of your support team ready after a meeting so you have a safe place to explore any feelings triggered by the session.
What topics might be discussed during a bipolar forum?
People attending a bipolar forum can expect any topic to come up during a session. Many moderators start by asking how everyone is doing and then open the conversation up to what others want to discuss.
If the conversation is slow to start, the peer support leader could suggest topics such as:
It’s normal to feel down after a manic episode.
Even if you’re feeling good, it’s important to monitor your moods.
There’s no need to feel ashamed about your diagnosis.
Bipolar disorder is a real and serious illness.
There are many ways to manage your mental health condition.
It’s important to find a treatment plan that works for you.
You’re not alone in this journey.
The important thing is to get the group talking. Usually, once one person starts to open up, others will join in the conversation.
Where can you find online support groups?
If you’re feeling lonely, or just need to talk to someone who understands, there are several online support groups for bipolar disorder out there. The best part is that most of them are moderated by people who have bipolar themselves, so they really understand what you’re going through.
The bphope site is a leader in bipolar support groups online and informative articles. The site offers both a Facebook group for people with bipolar, and a second group for those who love someone with bipolar.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
With peer-led support groups, the DBSA helps to develop coping skills while supporting each other in the group.
The 7 Cups site offers both free and paid services. Through the site, you can access chat rooms or connect 24/7 with a listener volunteer trained to help. Many young adults prefer this option.
Another great option is the Sane forum. This online community has been around for over a decade, and offers support and information to both people with bipolar disorder and their loved ones. There’s also a chat room where you can talk to other members in real time, as well as a wealth of articles and resources on everything from medication to coping strategies.
Mental Health America
Finally, if you’re looking for more general support groups, try Mental Health America’s discussion forums. Here you’ll find people from all walks of life, with many mental health conditions. It can be a great place to find information, share your experiences, and simply find some understanding ears.
How to find in-person support groups near you
If you are interested in joining in-person support groups, there are a few ways to find one near you.
You can start by asking your doctor or mental health provider if they know of any groups in your area. You can also search online for groups in your area. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has links to support groups listed by state. Finally, you can check with your local hospitals or community centers to see if they offer any support groups.
Once you have found a few groups you are interested in, make sure to call or visit their website to learn more about what they offer and how to get involved. Joining a group can help you feel supported and less alone in your fight.
It is important to find a group that is led by peers, respectful, and run by a professional mental health provider. With these things in mind, you can be sure that you will find a connection that is right for you.
Joining a bipolar disorder support group can be an immensely valuable experience. Not only will you be able to connect with others who understand what you’re going through, but you’ll also have access to resources and advice that can help you manage your condition. It’s important to do your research before joining a group, however, as not all groups are created equal.
Make sure the other members of the group are supportive and understanding. If you don’t feel comfortable in your current group, or if it’s not providing the encouragement you need, don’t hesitate to find another one. There are many groups out there, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.
Bipolar is a tough foe to fight, but success is possible. Joining community support groups is a good way to improve your odds.
Until next time, keep fighting. (More FAQs below.)
FAQs About Bipolar Disorder Support Groups
Q: What is bipolar disorder and what are the symptoms?
A: Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects moods. The symptoms can be very severe and can cause a person to have episodes of mania and depression.
Mania is a state of elevated mood, energy, and irritability, while depression is a state of low mood, sadness, and despair. Some people with bipolar also experience psychosis, which can include hallucinations or delusions.
Bipolar disorder can be very disruptive to a person’s life and can often cause them to miss work or school, lose relationships, and engage in risky behavior. Only a mental health professional can accurately diagnose bipolar disorder.
Q: What is a bipolar disorder support group?
A: Bipolar disorder support groups are meetings of people who share their experiences and provide support to one another. It can be helpful for those with the condition to talk to others who understand what they’re going through, and to receive advice and resources.
Q: What can I expect from a support group?
A: Many online support groups differ in their approach, but often you can expect to find a supportive and understanding environment where you can share your experiences and feelings. You may also have the opportunity to learn about different treatments and strategies for managing mental health.
Q: Where can I find a group?
A: There are many places you can find an online discussion group. Often, mental health organizations or hospitals host sessions. You can also search online or in your local community center.
Q: How do I know if a group is right for me?
A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Ultimately, you will need to decide if you feel comfortable sharing your experiences with others and if you feel like the group would be supportive. You may also want to speak with a mental health professional to get their opinion.
Q: I’m not sure if I’m ready to share my experiences with a group. Can I still benefit from attending?
A: Yes! You can still benefit from attending a bipolar disorder support group even if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your own experiences. Just listening to others and knowing that you are not alone can be incredibly helpful.
Q: Are there support groups online for friends and family members?
A: Yes, there are at least three great options for caregivers to benefit from.
The bphope magazine is the go-to source for many coping with bipolar disorder and their loved ones. The family members’ support groups help you connect with others facing similar struggles. You don’t have to do this alone.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
The DBSA understands that being the parent, spouse, or caregiver for someone with bipolar brings its own unique challenges. Their site offers useful resources for all.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
The NAMI Family Support Group is a peer-led group for anybody with a loved one who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder.
Q: Where can I learn more about bipolar disorder?
A: There’s no need to feel alone when you’re living with bipolar disorder or know someone with the condition. In fact, there are plenty of online support groups available where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
One great resource is this site: SpeakingBipolar.com. Scott Ninneman runs the site and lives with bipolar 1, so he understands your struggle from the inside. The website contains lots of helpful information and resources, such as the Bipolar Disorder Symptom Checklist.
In addition, Scott runs the Speaking Bipolar Positivity Club, which helps many stay positive in their fight for stable mental health. If you want to see if the Club is a good fit for you, try out the free 30 Days of Positivity email course as it starts with similar content.