Bipolar disorder is a lifelong, incurable disease.  However, it is a treatable one.  The main treatment consists of medication and therapy.  But what can you do if your loved one refuses to take their medication?

 

This is a very rough situation to face, since you can't just force your loved one to take their medication.

 

The first thing you have to do is find out WHY they don't want to take their medication, as there can be several reasons for this.

 

Many times, a person with bipolar disorder doesn't want to take their medication because of the side effects.  If this is your loved one's reason, you can point out that a simple call to the doctor reporting the side effects can be effective – i.e., that the doctor might change the dosage, when and how to take it to reduce side effects, or even put your loved one on another medication that doesn't have those side effects.

 

Without adverse side effects from their medication, your loved one may be more willing to take their medication.

 

Another problem you might face is that your loved one could say, "I feel fine.  I don't need the medication any more."

 

If that is the case, then you can answer, "Yes, but it is the medication that is making you feel fine, and if you go off it, you won't feel fine any more."

 

If you need to, tell them about the frightening statistics that the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) gives:  That 20% of people with unmedicated bipolar disorder WILL kill themselves.