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Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder

“Stress makes bipolar disorder worse, so try to find ways to reduce stress in your loved one's life.”


Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that are drastically different from the moods and behaviors of a “typical” person. While only about 4.4% of American adults will struggle with bipolar disorder at some point in their lives,1 it can impair an affected person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks and live their life normally. The moods usually alternate between mania, an extremely “up” mood, depression, or an extremely “down” mood.

How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect the Brain and Behavior?

If your loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder, their brain will undergo distinct changes that result in drastic behaviors. During mania, your loved one may have increased energy, be overly confident, speak rapidly, get distracted easily, and engage in riskier behavior. This is a direct result of a severe uptick of dopamine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that leads to feelings of heightened pleasure, euphoria, and motivation. The risky behaviors experienced during a manic episode can include sexual promiscuity, spending money excessively, abusing alcohol or drugs, or reckless driving, among others. Your loved one may also exhibit rapid speech patterns, along with an inability to concentrate.

During the depression stage, your partner may experience extreme sadness, loss of energy, feelings of being worthless, social withdrawal, and suicidal thoughts. This is due to the dysregulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, leading to lower levels of the important chemicals. The intensity of the depressive phase can make it exceptionally difficult for sufferers to complete daily tasks, causing people to withdraw socially. Cognitive impairments like trouble making decisions, concentrating, and remembering things can also indicate that your loved one is suffering from a depressive episode.

How to Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder That You Love

Can a bipolar person love someone? Absolutely. Can someone with bipolar disorder have a normal relationship? With work from both you and your partner, yes. When someone you love has bipolar disorder, their symptoms can be overwhelming at times. But working past this mental health condition in your relationship is possible. At Banyan, we work with people who struggle with mental illness and share some tips on dealing with a loved one with bipolar disorder.

Learn About Bipolar Disorder

When someone you love has bipolar disorder, you may feel lost and overwhelmed. It is natural to feel this way, but there is something you can do. The first step to loving someone with bipolar disorder is to learn everything you can about it.

Research the symptoms of bipolar disorder, the vocabulary associated with the disorder, and various treatment options. Read books, surf the web, and try to find people who are also familiar with the disorder. The more you know about your loved one’s mental health condition, the less frightening the symptoms will be. You will also be better equipped to help your partner during their struggles, especially if the diagnosis is more recent.

Be Understanding

It is not your loved one’s fault that they have bipolar disorder. Let your friend or family member know that you're there for them. People suffering from bipolar disorder often feel like they are a burden and don't seek help. Instead of letting them feel that way, be empathetic to their situation. Be sure to let your loved one know that they can talk to you. Additionally, you can act as a welcome distraction. Loving someone with bipolar disorder is about being there for them in whatever way they need.

Encourage Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Done are the days of electric shock therapy and unnecessary lobotomies. There are various viable treatment options now available for bipolar disorder. You should understand that the sooner bipolar disorder is treated, the better the prognosis may be. This means it is important to seek professional help as quickly as possible.

While it may be tempting to see if your loved one will get better without treatment, this could make matters worse. All too often, people with bipolar disorder will turn to drugs, such as alcohol or opiates, in attempts to self-medicate. These bad habits could lead to a substance abuse problem that will also require professional attention.

Accept What You Cannot Control

Loving someone with bipolar disorder can cause you to feel powerless. Although bipolar disorder symptoms can be managed, it is a condition that cannot be entirely controlled. Understand that mood swings and changes come with the territory of manic depression, and calling your partner “crazy” or telling them to “brush it off” won’t help.

Unfortunately, bipolar disorder is a part of your new reality, and with this reality comes a little bit less control. Bipolar disorder isn’t anyone’s fault, and the sooner you are able to relinquish this control and adjust, the easier it will be to accept the diagnosis and move forward.

Reduce Stress for Them

When someone you love has bipolar disorder, you may start to notice that stress can make their symptoms worse. To combat this problem, try to find ways to reduce stress in your loved one's life. Volunteer to take over some of the person's responsibilities if needed. Offer to take them to a calm place where they can be themselves and relax with a stroll at the beach or quiet park.

Establishing a daily routine can also help. This means it is important to establish regular times for waking up, having meals, taking prescribed medication, and going to bed. Just be sure that you do not overwhelm yourself too much in the process.

Take Care of Yourself and Set Boundaries

Loving someone with bipolar disorder is trying, but you can't rescue your loved one with bipolar disorder. You cannot control them or make them take responsibility for getting better. You can offer support, but ultimately recovery is in the hands of the person with the illness.

Because you, too, are coping with the effects of this disorder and are focused on your loved one, it is easy to forget about your own health. Take time for yourself and take care of your health. Join a support group or dedicate an hour each week to doing something you enjoy. If not, you could become depressed and even turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.

Understand That Medication Might Not Help Them  

Treatment is often accompanied by medication, but it may not be effective for everyone. In fact, medication is used to mitigate symptoms, not remove them entirely. Keep your expectations realistic. Your loved one may require a combination of our medical and Boca Raton mental health treatment in order to see results.

Do Not Focus Solely on Your Partner’s Illness 

Loving someone with bipolar disorder is difficult, but your relationship is so much more than your loved one’s disorder. It is easy to forget this when it feels like their illness is consuming their lives, especially when he or she is first diagnosed. If you are married, it is important to remember that you fell in love with this person for a reason, and it wasn’t because of their disorder.

Have Hope

There is no sure way to know how to love someone with manic depression, but there are other couples out there who have gone through the same thing as you and are able to make their relationships work. Do not give up hope. With a lot of hard work, you can make it through this and have a stronger relationship because of it.

Is Bipolar Disorder Curable?

There is presently no known cure for bipolar disorder, which makes it a chronic condition. But it's important to remember that bipolar disorder is treatable, and with the right care, people with the condition can live happy, productive lives. Typically, bipolar disorder is treated with a regimen of drugs, psychotherapy, and dietary changes.

The management of bipolar disorder symptoms and the stabilization of mood fluctuations depend heavily on medication. To assist in controlling the extremes of mania and depression, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants may be administered.

Individuals may benefit from receiving psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychoeducation, to better understand and control their symptoms, create coping mechanisms, and enhance overall functioning.

Additionally, lifestyle changes such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, exercising frequently, controlling stress levels, and abstaining from substance abuse or misuse can significantly aid in symptom management and general well-being. Although bipolar disorder may not be cured, the quality of life for those who have it can be greatly improved with the right care and support.

Don’t Face This Alone

We encourage you to explore our infographic below on loving someone with bipolar disorder. In some cases, patients may need co-occurring disorder treatment at our Banyan drug rehab if both bipolar disorder and addiction are present.

Contact Banyan Treatment Center by calling 888-280-4763 to learn about our Boca Raton mental health facilities and programs offered.


  1. National Institute of Mental Health – Bipolar Disorder
  2. World Economic Forum – The United States divorce rate is dropping, thanks to millennials

Related Reading

What You Should Know About Taking Zoloft for Bipolar Disorder

What Not to Say to Someone With Bipolar Disorder


We encourage you to explore our infographic on loving someone with bipolar disorder as well. In some cases, patients may need dual diagnosis treatment if both bipolar disorder and addiction are present. Contact our treatment center by calling 888-280-4763 to learn about our programs and detox services in Boca.



  1. National Institute or Mental Health – Bipolar Disorder
  2. World Economic Forum – The United States divorce rate is dropping, thanks to millennials
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder
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