Hypomania and mania
Explains hypomania and mania, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
Helping someone with hypomania or mania
You could try having an honest conversation with them about their hypomania or mania, and how it affects them.
Ask them questions about their experiences and listen to what they have to say. By talking openly, you can learn more about what things are like for them.
This can also help to build trust, so they feel more comfortable talking about their experiences and able to ask for help.
When they are feeling well, you could talk to them about their triggers and warning signs.
This could help you support them with avoiding things that might trigger an episode. And to notice any warning signs early, so you can offer any support they might need.
See our information on triggers and warning signs to find out more.
Looking out for patterns, talking, remaining calm and supportive is essential.
You could help them plan what support you can offer during a hypomanic or manic episode. This can help you both feel more prepared for what might happen.
You could discuss ideas such as:
- Enjoying being creative together
- Offering a second opinion about projects or commitments, to help them consider whether they’re taking too much on
- Helping to manage money while they’re unwell, if they'd like you to
- Helping them keep a routine, including regular meals and sleeping patterns
Plan for a crisis
It might also help to make a crisis plan that explains what to do if they become very unwell.
This could include how to spot the signs of a crisis, who to contact and what you can do to help. And you could discuss what kind of circumstances might mean they need to go to hospital.
You can agree the plan in advance, and both keep a written copy.
You might find yourself looking out for signs that they are experiencing mania or hypomania.
This is completely understandable. But this might not be the most helpful way to support them.
Remember that it's possible for anyone to display a range of emotions and behaviour, while still feeling stable overall. And try not to assume that any change in mood is a sign that someone is unwell. If you're not sure, talking to them is the best way to check.
If those around me are concerned about whether changes are symptomatic of relapse, I encourage them to ask, not assume.
If they experience mania, they might see, hear or believe things that you don't. If this happens, it might feel confusing for you. They might also feel angry, annoyed or confused if you don't share their beliefs or experiences.
Try to remember that what feels real for them is real in those moments. It might help if you try to:
- Stay as calm as you can
- Let them know that, although you don't share the belief, you understand that it feels real for them
- Try to focus on supporting them with how they are feeling, rather than confirming or challenging their reality
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.
If you're worried that they are becoming unwell, try to address this with them gently. Try to stay calm, avoid criticising or accusing them.
You could explain that you've noticed changes in their behaviour and why it concerns you. And ask if they've noticed it too. If this has happened before, remind them of this and explain the pattern you see.
If they say they're fine, you could suggest that you see how things go and talk about it again in a few days.
If someone is very unwell, they may behave in a difficult way and may not see their behaviour as a problem.
If this happens, it's OK for you to set boundaries. For example, that you will end the conversation if they're rude or aggressive with you. Or that you won't take part in any grand ideas or schemes that you are worried might end badly.
If someone has been unwell, they may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their behaviour. Reassure them that you still care and that you understand this behaviour is part of their hypomania or mania.
If they are worried that their behaviour may have long-term effects, you could offer to help them resolve this. This could be helping with a financial plan, or talking about how to improve relationships that have been affected.
It can be challenging to support someone who is unwell. And it's common to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Try to remember to look after your own mental health too. You could:
- Set boundaries and don't take too much on. If you become unwell, you might not be able to offer as much support. It can also help to be realistic about how much support you can offer.
- Share your caring role with others, if you can. It's often easier to support someone if you're not doing it alone.
- Talk to others about how you're feeling. This doesn't mean you have to share details about the person you support. But talking about your own feelings with someone you trust can help you feel supported too.
See our pages on how to cope when supporting someone else for more suggestions on what you can do, and where you can go for support.
This information was published in March 2023. We will revise it in 2026.
References and bibliography available on request.
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