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What To Do If Someone You Know Has Bipolar Disorder

Perhaps it's your family member, friend, student, or employee. You know the person well enough to notice that he or she is having strong mood shifts. The person goes from being very happy and filled with energy to being really depressed and has trouble doing things, even things he or she enjoys or needs to do for school or work. You're concerned for the person's health and well-being but you don't know what to do.

The mood shifts may be a sign the person has bipolar disorder. This is a brain illness. It causes people to go through extreme high and low periods. Signs of the disorder, such as strong mood swings, often start to show up in early adulthood. This is when a person is becoming independent and facing more life challenges. But it can affect anyone at any age.

Bipolar disorder isn't just about mood swings. It can make people do things that harm themselves or other people. It can even lead to suicide. That's why people with bipolar disorder need to be treated by health care professionals. They can use talk therapy and medicines that help people with the illness to manage the symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

Talk about it

If you believe someone you know has bipolar disorder one of the best things you can do is to talk to the person about your concerns. 

  • Pick a good time and safe place to have the talk, away from other people and stressful things.
  • Make sure the person knows you are not judging him or her. 
  • Tell the person you want to understand what is going on so you can offer the right type of help and support.
  • Be patient and listen to what the person has to say. 
  • Assure the person that help is available that can help him or her feel much better and enjoy a better quality of life.
  • Encourage them to contact PerformCare to set up an evaluation by a trained mental health professional.

Only a trained mental health professional can truly make the decision if the person is undergoing bipolar disorder symptoms and that is why it is important to encourage an evaluation. Before speaking with the person, it may be a good idea to talk to a health care professional. Tell the person where you found the information so he or she can learn more about the condition. It may help encourage the person to seek treatment.

Don't be worried that you will offend the person or make the person angry by talking about your concerns. If you plan out your words and say them in a kind and caring way the person will understand where you are coming from. It is up to the person to make the decision to get treatment. But just knowing that you cared enough to reach out may be the key that opens the door to recovery.

If you or your loved one is not already in treatment for bipolar disorder and feel you could benefit from outpatient therapy, you can call PerformCare Member Services  for answers to your care questions or for help finding a Provider.