Kim Asks…

My nephew is 24 years old. He tried to kill himself. This has been going on since he was 17. Just Saturday he took 80-85 pills of antidepressant, very close call to his death but he made it. My questions is how can his mom and dad get help for him because of his age? He really needs to stay in the system, not at home, to be a better person.

Dr. Fink Answers…

I am sorry to hear of your nephew’s struggles. Early adulthood is the most common time for bipolar disorder to present itself — either depressive or manic episodes. It is also a time when young people are still somewhere between childhood and adulthood. While legally an adult, at 24 years old his brain is still evolving its circuitry for insight and impulse control, and it is likely these circuits are even more immature than many others at 24 given that he has been experiencing symptoms of mental illness for seven years.

Your nephew will have to be an active participant in his own care — hopefully he is willing to let his parents help him find and use professional supports. Where and how he gets the supports will depend on where he lives and the mental health resources available in the community, as well as his own resources in terms of health insurance.

He and his parents can start with a conversation with their family doctor or primary care provider to determine how best to get good psychiatric care for your nephew. Or seek out a support/advocacy group such as DBSA or NAMI to get help in locating care and other supports. Support programs are often available through these organizations to help both your nephew and his parents (and you and other family members) navigate this difficult journey.

In general, care is most effective if it can be done in the least restrictive setting and with the involvement and support of family and friends.

It is most likely that most of the care will be community based — not inpatient or residential care — unless his symptoms become too severe to manage as an outpatient. Sometimes people will require hospitalization or extended care in some type of supported setting outside of the home.

However, in general, care is most effective if it can be done in the least restrictive setting and with the involvement and support of family and friends. Remaining in one’s own community is a goal for quality mental health care. Living at home could be the most appropriate setting for this young man right now — or it could be unmanageable due to his symptoms or other circumstances. However it is important to keep in mind that due to his age and illness he is not yet able to function independently, and managing his care will be a challenge for him. Family and home supports will be important for him even if he is receiving care in a setting outside of home.

Depressed young man image available from Shutterstock.



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    Last reviewed: 11 Feb 2014

APA Reference
Fink, C. (2014). Bipolar Disorder Q&A: How to Get Help for a 24-Year Old with Bipolar. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar/2014/02/bipolar-disorder-qa-how-to-get-help-for-a-24-year-old-with-bipolar/


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Candida Fink, M.D. and Joe Kraynak are authors of
Bipolar Disorder for Dummies.

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