How To Talk To Someone Who Is Bipolar

Last Updated
December 8, 2023

If you're wondering how to talk to someone who is bipolar and offer support, it's crucial to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Dealing with bipolar disorder can be challenging, and knowing how to talk to someone who is bipolar is key to providing effective support.

In this blog post, we'll explore effective communication strategies and share resources to help you navigate these conversations.

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Tips for talking to bipolar individuals

Extreme changes in mood and behavior are prevalent in people with bipolar disorder. These mood swings may happen suddenly and may hurt the person’s own life.

You might have to endure irrational behavior, absurd demands, violent outbursts, and careless choices while experiencing a manic episode. And after the manic episode has ended, it frequently falls on you to deal with the fallout. You might need to intervene for a loved one or a friend who shows bipolar symptoms.

The good news is that with the right care, medicine, and support, the majority of people with this mental health disorder can stabilize their moods. Your loved one’s treatment and recovery can benefit much from your tolerance, love, and understanding. Sometimes, all someone needs to change their perspective and motivation is someone to talk to.[1][2][3]

Here are some tips on how to interact or talk to someone with bipolar disorder:

a person offering a comforting hand to another in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

Don’t argue with them

The amygdala, a fear area in our brains, is in charge of triggering our fight-or-flight responses. When this happens, we fail to communicate our precise intentions and turn irrational and unreasonable.

The amygdala may be overactive or extremely quickly triggered in people with bipolar disorder. This occurrence is known as amygdala hijack. Don’t argue or discuss with your bipolar partner while they are experiencing terror. wait till the person with bipolar disorder is calm. Arguing with someone with a bipolar disorder experience might get things heated up and violence might come into the picture.[4][5]

A compassionate gesture like a supportive touch on the shoulder in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

Reassurance

When talking to someone with bipolar disorder, be comforting. Always remind the patient that he or she is fine, it’s just a phase. Don’t remind someone with bipolar disorder of their mental health condition but always remind them of how unique and wonderful they are.

A man screaming abusive words in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

Be compassionate

When bipolar disorder symptoms worsen, the effect can resemble an ugly outburst by a two-year-old.

Try to keep your judgment to yourself as much as you can. If you come downstairs and discover your bipolar friend or relative having a screaming tantrum, treat them as much as you would with a young child whose scoop of ice cream just dropped off the cone.
The person is responding to the world as they perceive it.

Take stock and consider ideal backgrounds. Put a lot of compassion into it and try to be understanding.[6]

Never use abusive words

When talking to someone with bipolar disorder, try not to use abusive words. In as much as the person’s mood episode can be quite annoying, set your boundaries.

It takes a lot of discipline to deal with someone that has a bipolar disorder because the person’s mood changes and mood episodes can be very tiring and neck wracking but try and understand the patient’s situation and choose your words carefully. You can also find the best PTSD books in the Ultiblog Best Products category Buy The Best Ptsd Workbooks. [7]

two people sharing a laugh in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

Focus on the good moments

A conversation that reminisces the fun-filled moments is always healthy for someone with bipolar disorder.

Focus on the good times you had with the person, not the hurdles and anger. Remind them of your fun memories even when life is questionable.[8]

in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

How can you help someone with bipolar disorder

Helping someone with bipolar disorder, especially when going through a manic or depressive episode is a caring but challenging task to do.

Having a friend or family member with bipolar disorder can be difficult, as you are aware. Both the person with the disease and the people in their lives may struggle with unpredictable behaviors and intense mood swings.

It’s critical for those who suffer from bipolar disorder to appreciate coping mechanisms.

The individuals in their lives, such as friends or family members, must understand how to help them when they are experiencing a manic or depressed episode. [9][10]Here are some tips for supporting a loved one who is suffering from bipolar disorder:

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Educate yourself

You will be more equipped to assist if you are more knowledgeable about bipolar disorder. For example, being aware of the signs of manic and depressed periods will help you respond effectively when your mood suddenly changes. You can educate yourself by joining a bipolar support alliance where you’ll be taught about bipolar disorder.[11][12]

Listen

To be helpful, you don’t necessarily have to offer solutions or counsel. One of the nicest things you can do for someone with bipolar disorder is simply to listen to them, especially when they want to talk to you about their struggles.

By expressing your acceptance and understanding, you can greatly aid the person in feeling more at ease about their situation. You may improve your listening skills by:
– Completely paying attention to what your bipolar friend or loved one is saying
– Be calm during conversations
– Ask friendly questions about what he or she has been saying.
– Avoiding conflicts
– Staying away from any subjects that seem to annoy or disappoint them[13][14]

A hero ripping off their casual clothes in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

Be their hero

People with this mental illness occasionally experience the feeling that everyone is out to get them. The person may feel more stable if you reassure them that you support them. Even if you disagree with the person’s attitudes and actions, reassuring them that you have their support no matter what can be incredibly helpful.

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Affirming their abilities and positive traits can assist those who suffer from bipolar disorder, who frequently feel hopeless or unworthy. This can make it easier for them to bounce back from depressive episodes.[15]

a person balancing stones in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

Know your limits

A bipolar individual can benefit greatly from your assistance. But, you must know when to back off and let a medical or mental health expert take over. Although people with bipolar disorder can make consciously informed choices, you must recognize when their emotions and actions are beyond their control.

Also, if the person has a setback while you’re attempting to help, don’t take it personally. Keep in mind that you are both trying your best.[16]

 two people drawing a plan in a post about how to talk to someone who is bipolar

Draw a plan

Unpredictability is a risk seen in bipolar disorder. If you need to deploy an emergency plan during severe mood episodes, it’s crucial to have one in place. This plan should outline what to do if the person experiences suicidal thoughts while experiencing a depressive episode or if they lose control while experiencing a manic episode.

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You should also make daily preparations to help the person get through the intervals between extreme episodes. These plans may contain coping strategies, such as what to do when one feels a mood swing coming on or how to carry out daily tasks when one is feeling low on energy. Make these arrangements when the person is composed and stable in their thoughts. For easy access by both of you, it’s preferable to put them in writing.[17][18]

Bipolar disorder treatment

A psychiatrist experienced in treating bipolar disorder and associated illnesses is the ideal professional to oversee the treatment. A psychologist, social worker, and psychiatric nurse could be on your therapy team.

As a lifelong condition, symptom management is the focus of treatment.[19]

The treatment for bipolar disorder may include:

Medications

One with bipolar disorder will often need medication to balance his or her mood right away. Medications include antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs, and mood stabilizers.[20]

Renewed treatments

Even when the patient feels better, bipolar disorder needs to be treated with medication for the rest of their life.
People who neglect maintenance therapy run the danger of experiencing a relapse of their symptoms or of having mild mood swings develop into major depression or mania.[21][22]

Programs for day therapy

A regimen for day treatment may be suggested by the doctor, like online therapy. These programs offer the assistance and guidance the patient require as they manage their symptoms.

Hospitalization

If they behave in a risky manner, experience suicidal thoughts, or lose touch with reality, the doctor may advise they should be admitted to the hospital. Whether they’re experiencing a manic or major episode of depression, receiving psychiatric care in a hospital can help them to be safe, calm, and in control of their emotions.

A person with bipolar disorder requires medical treatment and psychological counseling (behavioral therapy) to regulate the symptoms. Education and support groups may also be used as additional therapies.[23]

Understanding bipolar disorders

According to the America Psychiatric Association, bipolar disorders are a group of mental disorders that cause an individual’s mood, energy, and functional ability to fluctuate extremely.

They are one of the most prevalent forms of mental disorders in the United States of America. Every year, bipolar disorder is diagnosed in about 3 million people. This condition’s previous name was “manic depression,” but it was changed to help lessen the stigma attached to the sickness.

Although there are several types of bipolar disorders, mood changes that range from severe depression to mania are the most typical signs and symptoms.[24][25][26]

Depression

A depressive episode is one major symptom of someone with bipolar disorder. Someone with bipolar disorder may go through prolonged depressive episodes that make it difficult for them to go about their regular lives. This depression usually involves more than just feeling down. It consists of:
– Low zeal
– Inadequate focus
– Apathy: Lack of interest in formerly important issues.
– Irritability
– A low sense of self
– Alterations in appetite or sleep patterns
– Suicidal or self-harming ideas[27]

Mania

Manic episodes or hypomania are a component of the bipolar disorder diagnostic criteria. An episode of mania is characterized by an upsurge in energy or mood. These signs include:
– Unusually positive attitude
– Decreased need for sleep
– Talkativeness
– Frenzied thinking
– Not paying attention
– Impulsive behavior includes expensive decisions, dangerous sexual behavior, reckless driving, etc.
– Enhanced energy levels
– Irritability or unease

Manic patients may occasionally develop psychosis and need medical treatment. Many of these symptoms are present in hypomania, which is less severe or disruptive. Bipolar illness symptoms and severity can change throughout a person’s lifetime. However, bipolar disorder can be successfully treated.[28][29][30]

Conclusion

A person with bipolar disorder can be difficult to help. The person’s moods will fluctuate, making it challenging to respond or cope.

But if you put out the effort, you can significantly impact your friend or loved one’s life. Knowing they can count on you can encourage them to adhere to their treatment plan and maintain a positive outlook.

Knowing that you are assisting a friend or loved one in navigating the ups and downs of living with bipolar disorder can be enjoyable for you as well.

FAQ

Can Bipolar Disorder Be Cured?

Although there is no known treatment for bipolar disorder, most people with the illness can live normal, fulfilling lives and manage their condition with the help of behavior therapy and an appropriate dosage of mood stabilizers and other bipolar medications.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic: Bipolar disorder
  2. NHS: Symptoms- Bipolar Disorder
  3. NCBI: The Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder: Decision-Making in Primary Care
  4. Verywell Mind: Amygdala Hijack and the Fight or Flight Response
  5. Bphope: Bipolar Disorder & Anger: Understanding and Getting Control of Irritability
  6. Massachusetts General Hospital: DMDD Versus Bipolar Disorder
  7. Mental Health Foundation: What it’s like to have bipolar, by people who have bipolar
  8. HelpGuide: Helping Someone with Bipolar Disorder
  9. ReachOut.com: Self-management for bipolar disorder
  10. NCBI: Improving Outcomes in Patients With Bipolar Disorder Through Establishing an Effective Treatment Team.
  11. Bipolar Life: SUPPORTING PEOPLE WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER
  12. HelpGuide; Living With Bipolar Disorder
  13. Everyday Health: 7 Things Nobody With Bipolar Disorder Wants to Hear
  14. NIMH : Bipolar Disorder
  15. SAHMSA: Living Well with Bipolar Disorder
  16. Healthline: How to Deal with the Uncertainty of Bipolar Episodes
  17. HelpGuide: Bipolar Disorder Signs and Symptoms
  18. NCBI: Treatment of bipolar disorder
  19. Healthline: Drugs to Treat Bipolar Disorder
  20. NHS: Treatment – Bipolar disorder
  21. NCBI: Risk for Recurrence in Depression
  22. National Alliance on Mental Illness: Different Types of Therapy for Bipolar Disorder
  23. Psycom: Bipolar Definition and DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria
  24. NCBI: Bipolar Disorder
  25. NIMH: Bipolar Disorder
  26. Verywell Mind: Major Depressive Episodes in Bipolar Disorder
  27. Cleveland Clinic: Mania
  28. NCBI: The Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder: Decision-Making in Primary Care
  29. Cleveland Clinic: Bipolar Disorder

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