Bipolar Disorder: Loving someone with bipolar disorder, the ups and downs

Bipolar Disorder: Loving someone with bipolar disorder, the ups and downs
By Zoe Alekel

Loving someone with bipolar disorder can be a challenge if you don’t have the right tools and knowledge to help both you and your loved one. The first step in loving someone with bipolar disorder would be to understand what it means to be bipolar. Although you may never know exactly how your loved one feels, it is important to understand and educate yourself about their behaviors and emotions. According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). To understand what your loved one is going through, it is key to remind yourself that your loved one can’t always control these emotional mood swings—and more importantly it is not a reflection of you or how they feel about you.

It is understandable that it can be difficult to understand these seemingly sudden and intense mood swings, and your loved one struggling with bipolar disorder may already know this and feel bad about how it affects you. Make sure you approach them with kindness, and always ask them what you can do to help them. Sometimes space and understanding that the mood swing will pass is enough support for your loved one. No matter how involved or uninvolved they want you to be with their mental health, always respect their wishes.

One thing you can do to help you cope with your loved one’s bipolar disorder is to find others that have loved ones with bipolar disorder as well. Additionally, you can reach out to a therapist to share your feelings and the struggles that you experience as someone who has a loved one diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A way you can further educate yourself on bipolar disorder is to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website. NAMI provides credible information for those with loved ones diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and suggests you can try the following to help a family member or friend with bipolar disorder:

  • Recognizing and preventing serious mood episodes/ mood swings
  • Being able to recognize the warning signs of mania and depression
  • Making sure your loved one is taking their medication regularly and consistently (as directed)
  • Communicating and making time to talk to your loved one about their feelings when they feel ready
  • Remaining calm and rational with your loved one
  • Keeping a positive attitude and a clear mind to help your loved one the best you can
  • Reaching out for psychological support for you and your loved one

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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