Women's Health

LOVE & MENTAL ILLNESS

Source: MOTHER DAUGHTER The mood disorders that created distance between Christine (left) and Maggie have also given them greater appreciation for each other.

PEOPLE HAVE DESCRIBED HAVING A MENTAL HEALTH condition as living in a bubble that isolates them from the rest of the world. In reality, these illnesses never occur in a vacuum. Symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and mood swings can create ripple effects that lead to conflict and frustration for loved ones, making it hard for them to have empathy, says Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Despite the progress that has been made in understanding mental illness, there’s no clear road map to getting through the rifts it can cause in relationships—especially if you’re not the one with the diagnosis. Some loved ones ignore the problem, while others insist their friend or family member “snap out of it,” says Teri Brister, Ph.D., director of information and support at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Others keep quiet to avoid arguments or make excuses for a loved one’s) and Mental Health America ().

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