The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Northern Virginia      

DBSA-NOVA: Support For Loved Ones

Support Group

B ipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that has a significant impact on the loved ones of those who suffer as well as those who suffer from the illness. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe, and they often leave family members reeling, searching for solutions from therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, other mental health professionals and support groups in order to help their loved ones with bipolar. The disorder often contributes to additional character flaws, personality disorders and can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. One of the most important elements to successful recovery is learning about bipolar by the person who suffers and their loved ones, and then building a support network of loved ones made up of family and/or friends.

If you are a loved one of someone with bipolar and want to be a part of their support network (a potentially life or death element of their recovery), we recommend that you check out our publications links for more information, and check out some of the sites listed below.

Centreville Loved Ones Support Group (Bipolar Disorder ONLY): The main way we support family and friends are through our meetings in Centreville. The group meets every other Wednesday (Refer to the calendar for the next meeting date) at 7 p.m at 5675 Stone Road, Suite 230, Centreville, VA 20120. Directions can be found below. If you have any questions, contact Loved Ones Support Group.

       Time: Every Other Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.
(Refer to the calendar for the next meeting date)
Location: Goose Creek Consulting, LLC
5675 Stone Road, Suite 230
Centreville, VA 20120

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A closed online community for the loved ones of those with bipolar.

Bipolar Disorder at

An open news and information site that includes history, medical information,
chat rooms and all sorts of additional information.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

The nation's largest mental health advocacy group.

To suggest a link, write us at DBSANOVA

How Can Individuals and Families Get Help for Bipolar Disorder?

Anyone with bipolar disorder should be under the care of a psychiatrist skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Other mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and psychiatric nurses, can assist in providing the person and family with additional approaches to treatment.

Help can be found at:

  • University—or medical school—affiliated programs
  • Hospital departments of psychiatry
  • Private psychiatric offices and clinics
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Offices of family physicians, internists, and pediatricians
  • Public community mental health centers

People with bipolar disorder may need help to get help.

  • Often people with bipolar disorder do not realize how impaired they are, or they blame their problems on some cause other than mental illness.
  • A person with bipolar disorder may need strong encouragement from family and friends to seek treatment. Family physicians can play an important role in providing referral to a mental health professional.
  • Sometimes a family member or friend may need to take the person with bipolar disorder for proper mental health evaluation and treatment.
  • A person who is in the midst of a severe episode may need to be hospitalized for his or her own protection and for much-needed treatment. There may be times when the person must be hospitalized against his or her wishes.
  • Ongoing encouragement and support are needed after a person obtains treatment, because it may take a while to find the best treatment plan for each individual.
  • In some cases, individuals with bipolar disorder may agree, when the disorder is under good control, to a preferred course of action in the event of a future manic or depressive relapse.
  • Like other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder is also hard on spouses, family members, friends, and employers.
  • Family members of someone with bipolar disorder often have to cope with the person's serious behavioral problems, such as wild spending sprees during mania or extreme withdrawal from others during depression, and the lasting consequences of these behaviors.
  • Many people with bipolar disorder benefit from joining support groups such as those sponsored by the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA), the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), and the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). Families and friends can also benefit from support groups offered by these organizations.


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