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Tips For Family And Friends Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Updated on January 25, 2017
Sometimes it's bright
Sometimes it's bright
Sometimes it's dark
Sometimes it's dark

Things You Can Do To Help

Do not take bipolar episodes personally. When in the storm of a bipolar episode, the bipolar person often says or does things that are hurtful or oftentimes inappropriate. When in a manic episode, they may become excited, difficult, overwhelmed, impulsive or even psychotic. When depressed, they may become sad, discouraging, irritable, and seriously despondent. These are symptoms of a mental illness. They are not your fault. You should not feel responsible for what is happening to your loved one during a bipolar episode.

Prepare yourself for some very erratic and often hostile behaviors. Sometimes the person with bipolar disorder will act in some very inappropriate ways. These can be extremely destructive and reckless. Sexually promiscuous, or over-spending behaviors are early signs of a bipolar episode. Knowing how to handle these kinds of behaviors ahead of time can benefit you greatly. Having a crisis plan in place is a good idea. Agree ahead of time what steps should be taken when an intervention becomes necessary. Put the crisis plan in writing, so it is always available to all involved.

Oftentimes the crisis plan includes hospitalization. Making contact with therapists and psychiatrists. Having this information available to you will benefit all people involved. Talking with your loved one who is bipolar on how things should be handled ahead of time saves a great deal of heartache later on.

Some other things you can do

  • Spend time with the each other. People who are manic or severely depressed sometimes feel isolated and completely alone. Doing things you enjoy together will help you both feel connected and less isolated. People with bipolar disorder sometimes need to be reminded people still care about them, even during an episode.
  • Avoid confrontation if at all possible. If the person with bipolar is manic they may have a tendency to argue. And have grandiose idea's.
  • If the bipolar person is depressed they may want to sleep a lot. This can actually be a good thing. Don't force them to get up. Suggesting they eat or shower with your help is a start. Remember it isn't your fault.
  • You can help the person by scheduling and tracking medications, making doctor, or therapy appointments, and reporting any changes in mood. Do so gently, as oftentimes a bipolar person will take this as nagging.
  • Create a support system for yourself. Have friends and family you can talk to who can listen when you need to talk, vent or want to get away. Sharing your feelings with a support group or a therapist can be beneficial for you as well.

Be Prepared

Knowing what to do in a crisis is very important. Make sure you have a list of emergency contact information of doctors, therapists, and other family and friends who are able to help you if needed. Be sure to include the address and phone numbers of the hospital you will take the person to if it becomes necessary.

If the person with bipolar disorder is suicidal or showing violent outbursts, you might want to call 911 or go to the emergency room and let them diffuse the situation. Someone with bipolar can sometimes escalate, and it is best for everyone's safety if professionals are involved.


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    • profile image

      aero 4 years ago

      my sister is bypolar and keep calling me at least 15-20 times a day stressed about her life. She is in another province we have put her in the hospital for help but when she get discharged she give up her meds. She say they are doing her no good. I have a life too and I am getting depressed because it is interfering with me emotionally. Help!!!

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 5 years ago from Washington MI

      Glad to hear you are doing good now.It is good to know there is possibility for recovery and stability.

    • profile image

      freedomspirit 5 years ago

      I like your hub, it's very informative and although I don't have extremes anymore, it sheds some light into what my mum must have gone thru with me and my family too. Not to mention me too. But..I'm okay now. thanks.

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 6 years ago from Washington MI

      Roseyposey, I am sorry your partner is in a manic phase, that can be tough for you as well as them. I do hope my bipolar pages are helpful in some way for you. Thank you so much for reading and I wish you both the best in your bipolar journey.

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      Rosyposy 6 years ago

      Thanks for some friendly and down-to-earth advice. My partner is entering the first manic stage he's had in a year or so, and it's my first experience of it. So far this page has been the most helpful.

      Thank you

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 7 years ago from Washington MI

      This is true, it is hard for both the person with bipolar and the caregiver as well. It is complicated, and finding that middle ground is sometimes impossible. Thank you for reading, and commenting.

    • LarasMama profile image

      LarasMama 7 years ago from a secret location, Australia

      Another important thing you forgot to mention - if they won't help themselves, you can't help them. Sometimes it's just time to let them go.