How to Help Someone with Bipolar Disorder

If you have a friend, family member or loved one with bipolar disorder, you may already know how challenging it is to deal with the ups and downs of the condition – both for the sufferer and for you.

The moods and actions of a bipolar individual can affect many people around them, especially those close to them, putting strain on their relationships and potentially isolating them from those who care the most. Sometimes spotting symptoms can even feel a bit like playing bingo Canada!

Regardless, it is during their most difficult manias and periods of depression that people with this condition need support, help and love the most. If you would like to know more about how to deal with the whirlwinds of mania and the dark days of depression in someone you care about, read on as we break down how to help someone with bipolar disorder.

Things You Can Do to Help Out

No matter how severe the symptoms are or which type of bipolar someone has, the good news is that their moods can almost always be stabilised with the right medication, treatment and support. Your patience and understanding may be crucial in your loved one’s recovery – but it’s no secret that caring for someone with the disorder can take a toll on your own well-being sometimes too.

Luckily, there are many ways to help someone with bipolar without putting a strain on your own mental health. Just a few options include:

  • Learning about the condition. The more you know about the symptoms of bipolar and the treatments available, the better you will be able to help your loved one with accurate and informed assistance.
  • Encouraging the sufferer to seek help. Nothing can replace the assistance of a psychologist or professional. The sooner someone with bipolar is treated, the better the outcome, so encourage your loved one to seek help as soon as they can. Don’t let them wait it out in the hopes that the condition will resolve itself!
  • Lending an ear and being patient. Recovering from a mental illness is draining and tiring, and your loved one will definitely need your support, patience and understanding during this time. Be patient with their challenges and setbacks, and remember that managing this disorder is a lifelong process that involves plenty of trial and error.

What to Say to Show Your Support

Do you want to provide support to your bipolar loved one, but are not sure what to say? Here are a few key phrases to help out and let them know that you care and understand their struggles:

  • “You are not alone; I am always here for you.”
  • “I might not be able to understand exactly what you are going through, but I care about you and am ready to help wherever I can.”
  • “You and your well-being are important to me.”
  • “It might not feel like it right now, but if you persevere with treatment the way you are feeling will change for the better with time.”
  • and a simple “I love you” also goes a long way!

What to Do During a Relapse

It’s good to remember that relapse is also a very common issue in those battling with bipolar disorder. Even if your loved one is diligent with their treatment, they might still go through periods when their symptoms worsen.

Keep a lookout for symptoms of mania like sleeplessness, elevated mood, restlessness, rapid speech, increased activity, irritability and aggression, as well as depression symptoms like fatigue, excessive sleeping, concentration issues, loss of interest in favoured activities, isolation, and changes in appetite. If any of these present themselves, encourage your loved one to seek help from a professional to get them back on the right track.