If you care about someone with bipolar disorder, you may wonder what you can do to help. The best thing you can do is to become informed about your friend’s or loved one’s illness.

Whenever possible or appropriate, go to your loved one’s doctor appointment with him, get involved in the treatment plan, learn the particular warning signs of manic or depressive episodes—especially the warning signs of suicide. When depressive or suicidal signs appear, let the person know that suicidal thinking is a symptom of the illness.

In preparation for a manic episode, family members should set rules with their loved one, such as withholding credit cards, banking privileges and car keys. Uncontrollable manic episodes can be very dangerous to the person with bipolar disorder.

Encourage your loved one to follow her treatment plan. Offer to accompany her to the doctor to share your observations.

You, as well as your loved one, may want to take advantage of the help available from support groups. It is important not to blame every disagreement or life’s stressors on your loved one’s illness. By learning how others cope and sharing experiences, it will help you live with your loved one’s illness.