Kristin says carving time out for her own sleep is crucial, as is making time for each other.
"We make sure that every Friday night we set aside time for each other,” she says.
The episodes of depression and mania that bipolar people experiencewhich can lead to emotional withdrawal, out-of-the-blue accusations and outbursts, spending sprees, and everything in betweenhave been shown to induce stress, sexual dissatisfaction, and money worries in their partners, as well as depression. The answer is different for everyone Read more More about bipolar disorder "Mental illness is, on some levels, a contagious disease," says David Karp, Ph D, a professor of sociology at Boston College who has studied interpersonal dynamics within bipolar couples.
Depressive phases, during which the bipolar partner feels hopeless and sad, can drag a healthy partner down, too. "It brings out very strong negative emotions and feelings of isolation in the partner, who struggles so hard to separate the illness from the patient." Relatively few studies have been conducted on the effects of bipolar disorder on relationships, but the research is nearly unanimous that the disorder tends to cause both practical and emotional difficulties for couples.
For example, he says, he is worried about the long-term effects of medication on Kristin's health.