7 Ways to Help a Friend with Bipolar Disorder

Last Updated: 23 Aug 2019

While it can be rewarding and enriching, having a close friend with bipolar can also sometimes be frustrating, and confusing. Here are ways to be supportive—while taking care of yourself, too:

#1 Educate yourself about bipolar

Learn more about its array of symptoms and the different facets of its treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask your friend if he or she is open to answering your questions.

#2 Avoid passing judgment

If you see your friend struggling, approach him from a place of compassion and concern, rather than from a place of judgment.

#3 Communicate your acceptance

Let your friend know what you admire about her and that you appreciate how hard she works to stay well. Be patient and understanding.

#4 Establish a warning system

Decide together how to best communicate any behavior that could indicate that symptoms are worsening or escalating.

#5 Get to know them well

Spend time with your friend regularly, even routinely, to establish a strong connection. Just be there to listen and lend an ear.

#6 Be motivating

If your friend is in a low period, understand that it can be very difficult for him to find motivation to get out of that dark place. Offer to pick him up and go see a movie or just go for a walk; but respect his decision to not be social.

#7 Practice self-care

Set a good example and become a role model to your friend by taking care of yourself first. Establish boundaries, find time to relax, and keep doing the things you enjoy.

Read more:
The Essential Guide to Maintaining Friendships with Bipolar

Printed as “The Friendship Formula,” Summer 2019

About the author
Sasha Kildare, an educator, is at work on a memoir of mania, depression, addiction, and recovery—she blogs about storytelling at DrivenToTellStories.com.
  1. Wow, lolasdad! “Never allow a ‘bi-polar’ to be your only friend.” So much judgment. *sigh* People who have bi-polar disorder do NOT like to be only defined by their illness…

  2. Always know when you may begin to get in over your head. Have a trusted friend or professional around to help.
    Know when to quietly retreat, as in, I have other plans, I thinks its time for me to go.
    Never say too much, as this may give them food for thought, and you may regret this later.
    Never allow a bi-polar to be your only friend.

  3. I need help with how to take care of myself with my bipolar individual
    She drains me, I feel I am trapped and have no where to go or run away from her.
    I live in Losangeles. I’m currently in therapy but it’s not helping as much as I need it

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