Help for Parents of Bipolar Adults: Healing as a Family Through Long-Term Treatment

While the challenges of bipolar disorder do not end with treatment, the isolation and hopelessness do. It is possible to find help for parents of bipolar adults, as well as life-changing treatment for the individual with bipolar disorder. Find out your next steps to recovery for the whole family.

You may never feel ready to learn that your son or daughter has a serious mental health disorder. Perhaps because you still hold onto certain expectations for their life or you fear what this news could mean for their future—whatever the case, it can be a difficult reality to accept. But when that reality involves a behavioral disorder, an accurate diagnosis is the most important thing that can happen for them right now. The sooner you can reach acceptance and begin to see the current trajectory as a positive one, the sooner you can help your adult child to embrace the recovery journey themselves.

While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, with the best possible treatment, a person’s quality of life and ability to cope can significantly improve. In fact, treatment strategies and settings are improving all the time as our knowledge of bipolar disorders grows. But the most positive outcomes depend on a commitment and adherence to treatment. Hence, some of the best help for parents of bipolar adults is in the direction of acceptance and empowerment. When parents can see the hopeful possibilities of treatment, they can help their daughter or son to feel empowered in the process.

Getting Life-Changing Help for Parents of Bipolar Adults


One of the most challenging aspects of bipolar disorder is its unpredictability. This rollercoaster is distressing for your adult child and for everyone around them. Especially for those who care about your son or daughter most, it can be extremely painful to watch the tumult of their ups and downs—and especially when their suffering is untreated. They may be nervous, anxious, or irritable. They may be empty, hopeless, and unable to sleep. They may even be deceptively elated before an inevitable fall into despair.

As a parent, watching from the sidelines, you suffer too, perhaps in serious and lasting ways. Your son or daughter often is not in control of his or her thoughts and feelings. They may say or do hurtful things. They may appear hollow and like a shell of themselves, saying and doing hardly anything. Both sides of this behavioral spectrum can be destructive and painful.

So, when bipolar disorder is affecting your family, wide-reaching help is necessary for your child and for you. Because the recovery journey is lifelong, it’s especially important to develop understanding, expectations, and coping strategies that will persist. As you strive to support and empower your adult child with bipolar, you, too, need help and support to move forward.

Fortunately, regular family therapy is an integral part of many leading bipolar treatment programs. Some of the benefits of this kind of programming include:

  • The support of a community of families going through similar challenges
  • Guided development of communication skills for the long term
  • Education about what your son or daughter is going through with bipolar and any other co-occurring disorders
  • Strategies for managing stress and triggers
  • Realistic goal-setting and action steps for reinforcing your child’s long-term independence
  • Real strategies for setting and maintaining your boundaries
  • Empowering perspective and tips on how to take care of yourself too

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What's Next for You and Your Family?


Whether your adult child still does not have a psychiatric diagnosis, they are resisting treatment, or they are ready and willing to move forward, a treatment center can help. Even if you’re unsure of what the next steps are for your family, calling a treatment center can set you on the necessary path. If you are feeling disempowered and helpless to support your son or daughter toward recovery, it’s time to start those important conversations with people who know that recovery is possible.

Take any signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder seriously. Remember that, even when your son or daughter appears to be feeling a lot better, a downturn in their symptoms could be right around the corner. But a better life is just around the corner too—with the right help from recovery specialists.

You don’t have to continue this struggle alone. While it’s difficult to clearly see the positive path ahead, it is there for you and your child; you just need to know where to turn. A positive future in recovery means that your son or daughter has the clinical support to start stabilizing their emotional experience and developing strategies to cope with the ups and downs that may still come. At the same time, you are learning the importance of taking care of yourself and keeping the family needs in perspective, as they coexist with your child’s bipolar treatment.

BrightQuest is a long-term residential treatment program for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned San Diego-area program and how we can help you or your loved one begin the journey toward recovery.