The impact of bipolar disorder is considerable. Some believe that the illness puts people on an "emotional roller coaster" in which their ups and downs are so severe that resulting behavior can have its own disastrous consequences. For example, people suffering from episodes of mania sometimes use drugs, alcohol, money, or sex to excess, then later have to deal with an additional set of problems and trauma brought about by their behavior and impulsiveness.
Organizations such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and support groups such as the Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (DMDA) have provided a way for people with bipolar disorder to share their pain as well as to triumph over the illness. Many people have found comfort in knowing that others have suffered from the mood shifts, and they can draw strength from one another. Family members and friends can be the strongest supporters and advocates for those who have bipolar disorder or other psychiatric illnesses. Many patients have credited their families' constant, uncritical support, in addition to competent effective treatment including medications and psychotherapy, with pulling them through the devastating effects of the illness.
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