Early Intervention and Comprehensive Treatment for Concurrent Suicidal Ideation and Bipolar Disorder

Suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder often go hand in hand, and if your loved one is struggling with these mental health challenges concurrently, understanding the importance of suicide treatment and early intervention from their long-term stability and recovery is essential. By addressing their suicidal thoughts in addition to their concurrent disorder, they can break free from their bipolar disorder through treatment and find harmony in their life.

Suicide is a national crisis that continues to grow, with suicide rates increasing in America as each year goes by. People living with bipolar disorder are particularly more prone to experiencing suicidal ideation, with some of the highest prevalence rates in the realm of mental health. One study revealed an 80 percent lifetime prevalence of suicidal behavior and 51 percent attempt rate. Many of these people simply grin and bear these thoughts, believing them to be parts of their mind that cannot be changed.

“I used to think it utterly normal that I suffered from ‘suicidal ideation’ on an almost daily basis,” said writer and comedian Stephen Fry. “In other words, for as long as I can remember, the thought of ending my life came to me frequently and obsessively.”

It’s also a mental health challenge that, contrary to popular belief, many psychiatrists believe to exist separately from others like depression and anxiety, making it all the more important to acknowledge this disparity during treatment and create plans that harness medications and therapies that can effectively treat both suicidal ideation and whatever other disorders it may manifest alongside.

Ultimately, the difficulty in treating these disorders concurrently lies in our cultural perception of suicide as a byproduct of mental health challenges, such as bipolar disorder, rather than a standalone issue. We look at loved ones suffering from illnesses like depression and anxiety and believe that if they get the treatment that they need for their disorder, their struggles with suicide will decrease. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and when it comes to a mental health issue with close ties to suicide, like bipolar disorder, deconstructing this misconception is crucial for opening up the doors to proper treatment for the people that need it.

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Treatment and Early Intervention

The acute phase of suicidal ideation is one of the most important to address with treatment in all cases of suicide, whether it’s occurring alongside bipolar disorder, depression, or any other mental illness. During this phase, interventions aim to identify triggers for suicidal behavior and better understand its function—the why of it. Once your loved one and therapist establish the reasoning behind the suicidal thoughts and the triggers for the behaviors that stem from them, they can better make their way through the process of recovery. In many cases, family behavioral analysis is also used in cases where family dynamics and relationships are contributing to the suicidal behavior or bipolar disorder.

But the main reason that early intervention is so crucial for preventing suicidal behavior for people living with bipolar disorder is because without first addressing suicidal ideation, you cannot properly address other mental health challenges. And this notion is supported by research: one study concluded that “an assessment of suicidal risk must precede any attempt to treat psychiatric illness.

If suicidal ideation is viewed as a byproduct of mental health challenges, rather than a challenge of its own, and is skipped right over in favor of jumping straight to treatment for bipolar disorder, people suffering from both disorders concurrently aren’t going to be able to give their suicidal thoughts the proper attention that they need to set the course for a full healthy recovery. In periods of mania or depression, these kinds of thoughts create a huge burden on the state of mind of your loved ones. Without the proper tools and knowledge of how to deal with them, they might be at a loss as to how to handle to situation.

Breaking Free of Bipolar Disorder and Suicidal Ideation Through Treatment

“My depression reached such an unbearably low point all I wanted was to die,” said Jess Melancholia, who struggles with bipolar disorder. “I felt like there was nothing more I could be and no one would care if I left. I was prepared to let it all go and leave my friends and family behind. But I didn’t.”

Like Jess, many people with bipolar disorder find themselves at the brink of letting go and release themselves to suicide. But comprehensive residential treatment gives people like Jess the ability to address the core of their suicidal thoughts and use this understanding to forge a path that deconstructs their concurrent illnesses and helps them live fuller, richer lives in spite of both their suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder.

Common interventions for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers in combination with any number of psychotherapies. Treatments for suicidal ideation are getting more comprehensive by the day, with certain medications showing promise for treatment during the acute phase that is so important for recovery. The road to recovery is not an easy path to take, and your loved one will be living and learning from their suicidal thoughts and their complex ties to their bipolar disorder each day. But ultimately, you can help them by providing them with the support that they need, allowing them to achieve the reward of a life defined by stability and a thorough understanding of themselves and their challenges. “After fighting tooth and nail with this force that was tearing my soul apart, I realized I was worth it,” said Jess.

Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with concurrent bipolar disorder and suicidal ideation. Contact us to learn more about how you can receive the treatment and support necessary for finding hope and stability within your

Lead Image Source: Unsplash user Shane Rounce