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How To Support A Loved One With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a manageable mental condition and with proper treatment, the patient can successfully oversee their symptoms and cope with the condition's challenges. However, that doesn't mean it won't be traumatizing and challenging to watch your loved one struggle with the condition. Fortunately, certain things can be done to ease the burden.

If your loved one has bipolar disorder, you're aware that its symptoms can cause some challenges. These troubles include mood disorders and difficult behaviors that can negatively affect their life and yours when trying to help.

While bipolar disorder can affect your relationships, you should remember that you're a great source of support in the life of your loved one. You might also need to learn how to support them during difficult times. Read along to learn ways on how to successfully support a loved one with bipolar disorder as well as take care of yourself.

Educate Yourself

Educating yourself about bipolar disorder is an important step in supporting the person with the condition. The more you understand the condition, including symptoms and causes, the easier it will be to understand patterns and deal with the situation.

Among the things that you should know about bipolar disorders are:

  • This is a mental condition that may cause extreme changes in mood, concentration, behavior, and energy levels

  • Effects of bipolar disorder make it difficult for individuals to manage their daily activities

  • After episodes of mood changes, individuals with the bipolar condition may experience high degrees of happiness and energy or mania followed by periods of depression

  • Bipolar comes in three types, with each type showing different symptoms. The three types of bipolar disorder are bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and cyclothymic disorder

You can educate yourself more on bipolar disorder by reading books, websites, and published articles.

Get Involved

Taking part in your loved one's treatment is among the ways of supporting them. Nevertheless, it would help if you understood that you're not responsible for fixing the problem as much as you're there for them during treatment.

Bipolar treatment involves a combination of therapy and medication. However, how the condition presents itself can sometimes make the treatment unpredictable. Mood changes might make treatment follow-up difficult. Therefore, being there for your loved one during these episodes is very important.

Ensure you help your loved ones find treatment and adhere to it as you spend time with them during their recovery. You can also opt to place your loved one in a treatment center such as Jackson House and other centers where professionals will take care of them.

Listen To Your Loved One

To be helpful doesn't always mean providing answers and advice. Being a good listener is also a better way of helping someone with bipolar disorder, especially if they need someone to talk to about their challenges.

Offering acceptance and understanding can help make the individual feel more comfortable even as they struggle with the condition. You can practice being a good listener by:

  • Paying attention to what the individual is saying.

  • Avoiding arguments and topics that can irritate or frustrate them.

  • Staying calm during conversations.

Also, avoid taking the individual's behavior personally, even if it's frustrating. During depressive or manic episodes, the individual may behave in unexpected and hurtful ways since they tend to be hostile, aggressive, reckless, or moody.

Try to understand that these reactions are symptoms of the condition and not a reflection of you. As a source of help, your attitude plays a big role in shaping how your loved ones cope with their symptoms.

Pay Attention To Symptoms

Understanding symptoms of mania and depression in persons with bipolar disorder might be helpful. This is because you're aware of when the episodes begin to manifest and can provide the appropriate help.

You can also develop ways to help your loved one if you notice their symptoms are getting out of hand. This might include performing their duties while they’re experiencing manic or depressive episodes.

Common symptoms related to mania include irritability, rapid speech, high energy, loss of appetite, decreased sleep, grandiosity. racing thoughts, and impulsive behaviors.

On the other hand, common symptoms related to depression include prolonged sadness, change in sleep, increased appetite, and decreased activity. It may also include loss of interest in hobbies, difficulty concentrating, trouble completing tasks, and feelings of hopelessness.

Impulsivity is also another symptom experienced by people with bipolar disorder. This symptom can lead an individual in making poor financial decisions that they might later regret. As such, ensure to help them manage their finances while they’re experiencing such symptoms.

Be Prepared

When your loved one has bipolar disorder, you should always be ready to deal with serious and destructive behaviors that might arise. Ensure that you have a plan ready in action when such a situation arises.

For instance, individuals with bipolar disorder may experience suicidal or self-harming thoughts during a depressive episode. You must make sure to keep anything they can use to harm themselves out of their reach. Also, don’t leave them alone for a long time when they seem suicidal.

Persons with bipolar disorder are sometimes unpredictable. One moment they seem optimistic, and the other they could get suicidal. You should guarantee that your plan to act during tough moments includes having numbers to call in case of emergency.

Take Care of Yourself

While taking care and offering support to a person with bipolar disorder is important, ensuring that you're well is also important. Remember, you won't be as helpful as you would like to be if you're exhausted and overwhelmed. Some steps you can take to ensure your well-being include:

  • Making Time For Yourself: Other than spending most of your time caring for a person with bipolar disorder, you should also ensure that you don't neglect your goals and everything that matters to you. Make sure you set some time aside to live your life and be happy.

  • Be Aware Of Your Limits: Remember that bipolar disorder may be a lifelong condition that may require professional help. As a caring loved one, it's enough to do everything within your reach, but it's also okay to let professionals do their job. If your loved one's condition gets worse, don't shy from seeking external help.

  • Manage Your Stress: When your loved one has bipolar disorder, it's likely for your stress levels to get worse, especially when they are experiencing manic and depressive episodes. Strategies such as taking a deep breath, muscle relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness may help manage your stress.


When your loved one has bipolar disorder, it's normal to feel worried, guilty, or upset. However, it would be best to remember that bipolar disorder is a mental condition, and you're not to blame.

While being supportive, remember to take care of yourself by setting boundaries or limits. Though it might be difficult, you should be in your healthiest state. This is so you could find a way to possibly help your loved one in successfully managing their symptoms of bipolar disorder.

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