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How to Help Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a complex condition that involves genetic, environmental, and other factors. Offering support is not always easy, but these guidelines will help simplify the task.


  • Step 1: Learn about the disorder Learn as much as you can about the disorder. Many books about bipolar disorder have been published, and several organizations maintain websites that describe it.
  • Step 2: Study communication strategies Learn how to communicate with someone in the grips of the disorder. An individual with bipolar disorder may be irritable or irrational, and it's important not to initiate an argument.
  • TIP: Be a good listener and avoid offering unsolicited advice. Remain calm and express kindness, and use humor to bridge communication gaps.
  • Step 3: Establish rules of behavior Set rules of behavior in advance. For example, reach the understanding that the individual will seek professional help after a significant number of sleepless nights.
  • Step 4: Prepare for an emergency Be prepared for an emergency hospitalization. Familiarize yourself with the individual's health insurance coverage for hospitalization related to mental illness.
  • Step 5: Attend to your own needs Take care of your own needs. Look for support from others who have helped people get through bipolar disorder crises.
  • FACT: Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic depression.

You Will Need

  • Information
  • Internet access
  • Communication skills
  • Behavior rules
  • Emergency plans
  • Support for yourself
  • Listening skills (optional)
  • Sense of humor (optional)

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