Home / Mental Health / Mothers with Bipolar Disorder – Yes

Mothers with Bipolar Disorder – Yes

Consider the question as it stands:

“Can mothers diagnosed with bipolar disorder make good parents?”

Of course the answer has to be “yes” AND “no”. In fact I would go as far as to say that the question is absurd. Does this assume that the question should only be asked of people with a mental health diagnosis? What about the general population? Do we assume those who have escaped diagnosis will make good parents?

There is no cure for bipolar disorder because once the diagnosis is made then it is a label for life. Therefore, like the aftermath of a stroke in severe cases, or a persistent allergic reaction in a milder form, there are consequences. Although there is no cure per se there is potential for remission, and there can even be total recovery from symptoms given the correct medications, cognitive therapies, and removal of environmental triggers.

Also consider that there is the same diversity of personality in people in bipolar disorder as there is generally. Mental illness is a continuum not a pigeon-hole, and the prognosis is affected by complex interacting factors not single distinct genetic mutations. People are not born with bipolar disorder, although they may inherit a greater probability of developing the disease, often due to a sensitivity to environmental factors that may be chemical or circumstantial or both. Beware of sweeping generalities.

Perhaps we should re-frame the question from two opposing extremes to obtain a more balanced perspective.

Can mothers with severe uncontrolled bipolar disorder, co morbid drug abuse, and unstable lifestyles make good parents? NO of course not.

Can mothers recovered from, or in remission from, bipolar disorder symptoms with no drug abuse issues, and stability and support in their lives make good parents? YES they have as good a chance as anyone else.

The real issue here is that bipolar disorder is a health issue like any other. Blanket discrimination is no help to anyone. There are times in people’s lives when their state of health will prevent them from being the ideal parents whatever their diagnosis.

Another consideration is that not all women with the disorder are considering whether to become mothers. Some are already mothers. Eroding their self-esteem by indicating they never should have been mothers is not helpful to them or their children. Positive reinforcement, encouragement, and support is a powerful facilitator of recovery, because having hope helps people strive to be the best they can be.

As the old saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”. We are in this together, and we are all responsible.