What Loved Ones Can Do

Often, family and friends are eager to help, but they aren’t sure what to do. Basco suggests:

  • Keeping an open mind. Loved ones also can have difficulty accepting the diagnosis. However, keep in mind that an accurate diagnosis leads to effective treatment.
  • Educating yourself. “Become knowledgeable about bipolar disorder so you can understand what the person is going through and how you can help,” Basco said. Even if the person isn’t ready to seek treatment, Basco still suggests learning about the disorder.
  • Becoming an active ally. “Show support in an active way, go to support groups and meet with the therapist (with the patient’s permission),” Basco said. Establishing a relationship with the therapist is tremendously helpful for loved ones, who can ask the therapist what to do in specific situations, she said. You might ask, “When should I take suicidal thoughts seriously?” “Do I force my child out of bed when he’s depressed?”

Other Resources

Psych Central’s library of bipolar information

bipolar screening test

National Institute of Mental Health

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Alliance on Mental Illness