Explains what bipolar disorder is, as well as different diagnoses and treatments. Offers information on how you can support someone with bipolar and tips for self-management.
Seeing someone you care about going through the moods and symptoms of bipolar disorder can feel distressing. But you can offer support in lots of ways, while also looking after your own wellbeing.
This page covers how you can:
If you're open to talking to someone about their experiences, it can help them feel supported and accepted. You can learn more about these experiences by reading blogs by family and friends on the Bipolar UK website.
When your friend, partner or family member is feeling well, try talking to them about the support you can offer during a hypomanic or manic episode. This can help you both feel more stable and in control of what's happening.
You could discuss ideas such as:
If someone is hearing or seeing things that you don't, they might feel angry, annoyed or confused if you don't share their beliefs.
What feels real for them is real in those moments. It might be helpful if you try to:
During a manic episode, they may do things that feel embarrassing, strange or upsetting to you. It can be helpful if you try to:
"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."
Most people have some warning signs that they're about to experience a mood episode.
Many people will also have triggers, such as stress, which can bring on an episode. Try to:
"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."
You might find yourself always looking out for signs that your friend, partner or family member is starting a bipolar episode. This is completely understandable. But this might not be the most helpful way to support them. You can:
"If those around me are concerned about whether changes are symptomatic of relapse, I encourage them to ask, not assume."
It's important to spend time and energy looking after yourself. You may feel very worried about your friend, partner or family member, but looking after your own wellbeing means you can keep supporting them.
"My husband and I both have bipolar disorder so it seemed inevitable that we'd have to rely on each other at times."
This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published.
References and bibliography available on request.
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