Explains what bipolar disorder is, what kinds of treatment are available, and how you can help yourself cope. Also provides guidance on what friends and family can do to help.
Seeing someone you care about going through the moods and symptoms of bipolar disorder can be distressing. But there are lots of steps you can take to offer support, while also looking after your own wellbeing.
Being open to talking to someone about their experiences can help them feel supported and accepted. If you find it hard to talk about your experiences or want to learn more, you can visit the Bipolar UK website.
When your friend or family member is feeling well, try talking to them about how you can support them if they have a hypomanic or manic episode. This can help both of you feel more stable and in control of what's happening. You could discuss ideas such as:
"What feels real is real for him in that moment. It helps when I respect that and comfort him rather than trying to explain it's not 'real' for everyone else."
"Having a father with bipolar is definitely a worry; you ride the highs and lows with them. Looking out for patterns, talking, remaining calm and supportive is essential."
It's understandable that you might find yourself constantly on the lookout for signs that your friend or family member is starting a bipolar episode, but remember that this might not be the most helpful way to support them.
"If those around me are concerned about whether changes are symptomatic of relapse [I encourage them] to ask, not assume."
It's important to invest some time and energy into looking after yourself. You may feel very worried about your friend or family member, but making sure that you stay well will enable you to continue to offer support.
This information was published in May 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.