When Your Partner Has a Mental Illness

Posted Jul 12, 2021

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

All intimate partnerships have their ups and downs, but mental illness can cause much distress for both the person with the illness and for the partner. If left unchecked, it can strain a relationship to the breaking point.

Although at times it may seem like a hard task, there are steps you can take to help your partner, your relationship and yourself.

Helping your partner

The first step is to help your partner know there is an issue and accept the need for professional help. This can be hard to do, especially if the symptoms of the illness have come on over time. Other ways to help are to:

  • Get feedback from people you trust. Talk with your health care provider, clergy or other professionals. They can serve as a sounding board for your concerns and point you to resources for more help.
  • Get the right diagnosis and treatment. Know that you alone can’t make your partner better. Ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health expert. Don’t wait for a crisis to get help.
  • Learn about your partner’s mental illness. Illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder each take their toll in unique ways. Know what you and your partner are dealing with by learning about the illness. Join a group devoted to the issue. Read books about it.
  • Encourage your partner to follow the treatment plan including taking prescribed medication and going to therapy and other treatment sessions. If family treatment is available, go together.

Helping your relationship

Being in a strong, supportive relationship has a buffering effect on mental illness, while stress in a relationship can make symptoms worse.

  • Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Your loved one did not choose to have a mental health issue. When you find yourself getting mad or blaming your partner for acting a certain way, try to think about what it’s like to have a mental illness.
  • Keep your interactions calm. Finding fault or reacting angrily to your partner’s actions may make the symptoms worse.
  • Focus on your partner’s positive qualities. Remember what brought you together. The person you fell in love with may often be hidden by the illness, but is still there.
  • Don’t treat your partner like a patient. The illness does not define your partner, so hold him to your usual expectations and standards, within reason. 

Helping yourself

Focusing on your partner’s needs while ignoring your own will lead to resentment and burnout. You might lose your temper or slowly pull away, both of which may make your partner’s symptoms worse. Here are ways to take care of yourself so you can help your partner get healthy:

  • Don’t blame yourself. Mental illness has a biological component; you did not cause it. 
  • Do things you enjoy. Boost your physical and emotional energy by making time for friends and hobbies.
  • Be open about your partner’s illness. Embarrassment and shame can lead to seclusion at a time when you need more support than ever. Deepen your ties with others by being up front about your partner’s illness.
  • Join a support group. Being with people in a similar situation is comforting and will allow you to share tips and advice for coping with your partner’s illness. Find one through your local hospital, community mental health agency or local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 
Source: Military OneSource

All intimate partnerships have their ups and downs, but mental illness can cause much distress for both the person with the illness and for the partner. If left unchecked, it can strain a relationship to the breaking point.

Although at times it may seem like a hard task, there are steps you can take to help your partner, your relationship and yourself.

Helping your partner

The first step is to help your partner know there is an issue and accept the need for professional help. This can be hard to do, especially if the symptoms of the illness have come on over time. Other ways to help are to:

  • Get feedback from people you trust. Talk with your health care provider, clergy or other professionals. They can serve as a sounding board for your concerns and point you to resources for more help.
  • Get the right diagnosis and treatment. Know that you alone can’t make your partner better. Ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health expert. Don’t wait for a crisis to get help.
  • Learn about your partner’s mental illness. Illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder each take their toll in unique ways. Know what you and your partner are dealing with by learning about the illness. Join a group devoted to the issue. Read books about it.
  • Encourage your partner to follow the treatment plan including taking prescribed medication and going to therapy and other treatment sessions. If family treatment is available, go together.

Helping your relationship

Being in a strong, supportive relationship has a buffering effect on mental illness, while stress in a relationship can make symptoms worse.

  • Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Your loved one did not choose to have a mental health issue. When you find yourself getting mad or blaming your partner for acting a certain way, try to think about what it’s like to have a mental illness.
  • Keep your interactions calm. Finding fault or reacting angrily to your partner’s actions may make the symptoms worse.
  • Focus on your partner’s positive qualities. Remember what brought you together. The person you fell in love with may often be hidden by the illness, but is still there.
  • Don’t treat your partner like a patient. The illness does not define your partner, so hold him to your usual expectations and standards, within reason. 

Helping yourself

Focusing on your partner’s needs while ignoring your own will lead to resentment and burnout. You might lose your temper or slowly pull away, both of which may make your partner’s symptoms worse. Here are ways to take care of yourself so you can help your partner get healthy:

  • Don’t blame yourself. Mental illness has a biological component; you did not cause it. 
  • Do things you enjoy. Boost your physical and emotional energy by making time for friends and hobbies.
  • Be open about your partner’s illness. Embarrassment and shame can lead to seclusion at a time when you need more support than ever. Deepen your ties with others by being up front about your partner’s illness.
  • Join a support group. Being with people in a similar situation is comforting and will allow you to share tips and advice for coping with your partner’s illness. Find one through your local hospital, community mental health agency or local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 
Source: Military OneSource

All intimate partnerships have their ups and downs, but mental illness can cause much distress for both the person with the illness and for the partner. If left unchecked, it can strain a relationship to the breaking point.

Although at times it may seem like a hard task, there are steps you can take to help your partner, your relationship and yourself.

Helping your partner

The first step is to help your partner know there is an issue and accept the need for professional help. This can be hard to do, especially if the symptoms of the illness have come on over time. Other ways to help are to:

  • Get feedback from people you trust. Talk with your health care provider, clergy or other professionals. They can serve as a sounding board for your concerns and point you to resources for more help.
  • Get the right diagnosis and treatment. Know that you alone can’t make your partner better. Ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health expert. Don’t wait for a crisis to get help.
  • Learn about your partner’s mental illness. Illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder each take their toll in unique ways. Know what you and your partner are dealing with by learning about the illness. Join a group devoted to the issue. Read books about it.
  • Encourage your partner to follow the treatment plan including taking prescribed medication and going to therapy and other treatment sessions. If family treatment is available, go together.

Helping your relationship

Being in a strong, supportive relationship has a buffering effect on mental illness, while stress in a relationship can make symptoms worse.

  • Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Your loved one did not choose to have a mental health issue. When you find yourself getting mad or blaming your partner for acting a certain way, try to think about what it’s like to have a mental illness.
  • Keep your interactions calm. Finding fault or reacting angrily to your partner’s actions may make the symptoms worse.
  • Focus on your partner’s positive qualities. Remember what brought you together. The person you fell in love with may often be hidden by the illness, but is still there.
  • Don’t treat your partner like a patient. The illness does not define your partner, so hold him to your usual expectations and standards, within reason. 

Helping yourself

Focusing on your partner’s needs while ignoring your own will lead to resentment and burnout. You might lose your temper or slowly pull away, both of which may make your partner’s symptoms worse. Here are ways to take care of yourself so you can help your partner get healthy:

  • Don’t blame yourself. Mental illness has a biological component; you did not cause it. 
  • Do things you enjoy. Boost your physical and emotional energy by making time for friends and hobbies.
  • Be open about your partner’s illness. Embarrassment and shame can lead to seclusion at a time when you need more support than ever. Deepen your ties with others by being up front about your partner’s illness.
  • Join a support group. Being with people in a similar situation is comforting and will allow you to share tips and advice for coping with your partner’s illness. Find one through your local hospital, community mental health agency or local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 
Source: Military OneSource

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2021 Beacon Health Options, Inc.