How To Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder

FEATURED
September 19, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
7 MIN READ

Did you know that approximately 4.4% of adults struggle with bipolar disorder at some point in their lives?

That means that you or somebody you know is likely dealing with this mental disorder.

But bipolar is something that people can overcome — it isn’t a lifelong sentence. You can help your loved ones find healing and wholeness, despite the battle that lies ahead of them.

You just need to know how to help them fight it. To that end, we’ve come up with a short guide that will give you some general principles to help you support the person with bipolar in your life.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Before diving into the specifics, we first need to define our terms: what exactly is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a depressive disorder often called manic depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder can cause a person to experience mood changes with debilitating high manic episodes and low depressive episodes that alter a person’s behaviors.

Are There Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?

There are several different types of bipolar disorder, but the two main types are bipolar I and bipolar II.

Bipolar I will be characterized primarily by depressive episodes but may also entail at least one manic episode.

Alternatively, people with bipolar II may experience more of a flux. There will be more of a back-and-forth between mania and depression, with more consistent manic episodes. However, their manic episodes tend to be hypomania, which lasts for at least four days instead of seven.

How Can I Support a Loved One With Bipolar Disorder?

Now that you understand a little more about what your loved one may be going through, let’s discuss how you can help them find healing.

But before we get started, remember that you are not their therapist. It isn’t your job to heal them, but it is your job to support them and care for them while they work through it.

Listen to What They Have To Say

First, you need to listen to what your loved one says. Often, a person struggling with bipolar or any mood disorder needs an empathetic ear to share their experiences with.

Let your first instinct be to listen rather than to give advice.

What your friend or family member truly needs is to know that they’re not alone. By venting about their experiences, they can feel connected, and also, it works to remove the stigma behind their struggles.

Educate Yourself About Bipolar Disorder

Learning about what they’re going through is incredibly important.

Understanding more about the symptoms and experiences of people with bipolar will help you to be more empathetic and a better listener when your loved one is sharing their heart with you.

Make Yourself an Active Part of Their Coping and Treatment

It’s important that your role is an active one rather than a passive one. It means a lot more to a person when you call them to ask about how their day was than when they call you.

Take time out of your day to reach out, take them out for a meal, or just watch a movie with them.

Being active will help them know that you care. That kind of love goes a long way in helping them recover.

Help Them Seek Treatment

Many people with this mental illness need help to find treatment. Depressive episodes make it difficult to help yourself or even get out of bed.

Sometimes, you can help your loved one by looking up therapists or medical treatments for bipolar with them.

Be a Support System for Them

Being a support system can mean a variety of things. It means different things to different people.

To be a good support system, listen to your loved one’s specific needs and help them get to meet those needs.

Encourage Them Without Being Pushy

Encouragement is one of the most important things you can do for your friend. But it’s important not to push them too far.

Push them towards hope instead of shame or guilt.

Do Your Best To Understand

Empathy is the most important quality you can have as a supporter of somebody with bipolar. The more you understand what they’re going through, the more you’ll be able to understand how you can be of help to them.

Remember To Take Care of Yourself, Too

Supporting somebody with a mood disorder takes a lot out of you. It requires time and energy.

You must take care of yourself to be the best supporter for someone else. Make sure you take the time to care for your own mental health, too.

Know When To Give Them Space

Sometimes a person struggling with bipolar just needs a little space to help them cope. Work on developing your discernment so that you know when to give them the space they need. Healing can often come from within, and sometimes space is needed to find that healing.

Practice Patience

Your loved one isn’t going to get better overnight — the process of recovery takes time. Don’t expect them to find healing right away. True, lasting change often requires a long, challenging journey.

Help Them See Their Progress

One of the best things you can do is help people realize how far they’ve come.

When you’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to see how much you’ve grown and improved. Sometimes, people need a third party to help them realize the progress they’ve made.

Help With Daily Activities

Sometimes bipolar symptoms make it difficult to get daily tasks done. Maybe drive your friend to the grocery store or go over and help them with chores. These simple acts of service can help a person be in a better place to

What Is a Manic Episode?

One of the primary symptoms of bipolar disorder is periods of mania. Manic episodes last for at least seven days, and they will have three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Inflated pride
  • Less need for sleep
  • More talkative than normal
  • Racing thoughts
  • Easily distracted
  • Increase in goal-oriented activities
  • Engaging in pleasure with large consequence

Mania vs. Depression

Mania and depression are the two extremes on the spectrum of normal human emotional function.

While an episode of mania may make a person feel good, it will end up running them into the ground. Depression, on the other hand, causes sadness and hopelessness and can make it hard to even get out of bed.

What Are the Types of Depressive Episodes?

There are a couple of different types of depressive episodes that can occur with bipolar. With bipolar I, there will be more extended depressive episodes, all of which have similar symptoms.

With bipolar II, you might experience shorter depressive episodes broken up by periods of hypomania.

Some people even have mixed episodes, where they experience symptoms of both depression and mania at the same time.

The main difference between these and regular depression is the duration. Bipolar depressive episodes tend to be shorter, and they tend to follow and be followed by manic episodes.

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

There are a few different ways to treat bipolar disorder, and therapy is typically a good option. Having a licensed therapist help you work through your struggles and develop healthy coping mechanisms through cognitive behavioral therapy is a fantastic practice.

Mood stabilizers work for some people, but some studies suggest they are only moderately effective. Not to mention, they may have some unpleasant side effects.

This is where many patients turn to alternative treatments, such as ketamine.

Ketamine has proven to be an effective treatment for bipolar, demonstrating the ability to reduce depressive symptoms, thoughts of suicide, and anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure. In fact, many depression patients feel relief within 24 hours of their first treatment session.

The Bottom Line

If you have a loved one struggling with bipolar, you can be a part of their journey toward healing and wellness. By lending a listening ear, practicing empathy, and helping them find effective treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy or ketamine therapy, you can be the support system they need.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, which means that what happens before and after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with each of our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the insights that lead to true healing.

Sources

Bipolar Disorder | National Institute of Mental Health

Bipolar Disorder | Health Topics | Connecticut Clearinghouse

Efficacy and acceptability of mood stabilisers in the treatment of acute bipolar depression: systematic review | PubMed

Efficacy of Ketamine in Bipolar Depression: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis | PubMed
What is Bipolar Disorder? | Stanford Medicine

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