How To Help Someone with Bipolar Disorder

How To Help Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic-depressive disorder) is a major psychiatric illness. Although it only affects 3 percent of Americans, this serious mood disorder come in six different forms of its own. These subclassifications are based on the severity of the symptoms and the cause. In some cases, bipolar disorder is caused by medications or unspecified reasons other than neurological dysfunction.


Helping a Loved One with Bipolar Disorder

The good news is that bipolar disorder can be regulated with mood-stabilizing prescription medications, such as Lithium and Depakote, or natural herbal therapies, such as Kava Kava. However, it is still important to know how to help someone with bipolar disorder. Let’s take a look at how to help someone with bipolar disorder by reviewing the different facets of the problem below.


What is it Like to Live with Bipolar Disorder?

Living with bipolar disorder can be overwhelming. One minute, everything can seem like it is perfect. People suffering from the disorder are upbeat, sociable, smiling, and easy to get along with when they are feeling good. Nevertheless, their moods can shift suddenly and make you afraid of them. A person suffering from bipolar disorder can become very depressed, negative, and hard to reason with when they are going through a depressive phase. They may also become very angry if they are being bombarded with negative and paranoid perceptions.


How Do Sufferers Manage Bipolar Disorder?

Managing bipolar disorder is difficult for people who are suffering from it. Because they lack objectivity, they may not realize that they are acting in an unnatural manner. To them, their actions may seem perfectly justified and normal. This is because the moodiness can cause them to become irrational and to see the world in flat two-dimensional black and white perspectives. This is especially the case if the bipolar disorder is related to substance abuse and the mood changes that come from being high or withdrawing from the drugs or alcohol. Therapy sessions with a trained counselor can be of great help.


What Can Friends and Family Do to Help?

Dealing with bipolar disorder is easier when you have honest and caring support. When friends and family are able to reason with a sufferer to see that they are simply experiencing an altered state of mood, it can stop them from the temptation to say what they feel. Many people who suffer from bipolar disorder can become verbose when they are feeling slighted and lash out at the people that they love the most over trivial matters.

Helping someone with bipolar disorder is not easy because they are driven by emotions that cannot be logically articulated. Although their language may become disrespectful, loud, or obnoxious, family members and friends have to take it with a grain of salt. The more that they feed into pettifogger arguments, the harder it will be to calm down the sufferers.

The key is in understanding a person with bipolar disorder. They may experience obvious phases of mania when they have lots of energy and feel uninhibited. They will talk faster and may have trouble sleeping because they have racing thoughts and mental anxiety. When they hit a depressive state, they may feel tired, sore, and uninterested in doing anything or talking. Trying to understand the extent of their mood swings and triggers is something that takes time and lots of consideration.

But you can try helping someone with bipolar disorder by being patient and by showing compassion. Many people discontinue medications because they dislike the side-effects. It makes them feel inferior and stigmatized when they gain weight, feel mentally dulled, or sedated. As a result, many people with bipolar turn to substance abuse as a method of controlling their highs and lows. The problem with this is that substance abuse often makes the problem worse as it deteriorates their positive coping mechanisms and makes them dependent.

Helping a loved one living with bipolar disorder requires compassion. You have to consider how they are feeling in the totality from the effect of this disorder on their lives. It may be limiting their friendships, occupational and educational opportunities, and making them feel like less of a person. When they are manic, this is their time to go wild. They may gamble excessively, commit crimes, or drive dangerously and take other risks. Accepting that this is the nature of their character from dealing with bipolar disorder and not a logical free choice is the first step to helping them.

Instead of berating them for their shortcomings, it is important to maintain an easygoing attitude. If you can get them to balance out their moods with medicine or supplement that doesn’t have the same side-effect profile, this would be the biggest benefit. There are various herbal mixtures that contain Kava Kava and St. John’s Wart that may offer them holistic health alternatives. Even substances like CBD oil may help someone with managing bipolar disorder.



Helping a loved one with bipolar disorder is easy if you refrain from descending to their emotional levels. Understanding a person with bipolar disorder isn’t about meeting them at an emotional level but about recognizing symptoms and helping them to realize the need for treatment. Help someone today by helping them to find the best therapies and treatment for their condition. Contact The Becoming Counseling to learn how to successfully manage bipolar disorder.

Wes Cain, LPCA, NCC, IHC



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