September 21, 2006 · Posted in: General

An illness in the family

OUR next i Report health feature tries to explain bipolar disorder through the experience of someone whose mother was diagnosed as having the disease more than two decades ago. It shows the effects of the illness not only on the manic depressive herself, but also on the immediate family members who take on the role of caregiver.

WHO says bipolar disorder and other mental-health problems represent an immense “undefined burden” for families, communities, and countries. This is in part because of the lack of data on such problems, which often remain hidden and therefore untreated. But the burden probably weighs heaviest on the manic depressive’s family, because the love one feels toward a child, parent, or grandparent with mental illness can quickly be transformed to hate — which in turn leads to guilt and self-loathing.

We hope the story will open readers eyes not only to an illness that is seldom talked about, but also to the anguish felt by families that have manic depressives as members.

Read on at

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