Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

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 affect that person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks and live their life normally. The moods usually alternate between mania, or an extremely “up” mood, and depression, or an extremely “down” mood.


When Someone You Love Has Bipolar Disorder

If your loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder, you will notice certain symptoms. During mania, your loved one may have increased energy, be overly confident, speak rapidly, get distracted easily, and engage in riskier behavior. During the depression stage, your partner may experience extreme sadness, loss of energy, feelings of being worthless, social withdrawal, and suicidal thoughts.

How to Love Someone With Bipolar Disorder: A Helpful Guide

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 it is possible to work past this mental health condition in your relationship. Although we provide drug and alcohol detox in Boca, we also work with those people who struggle with mental illness and are sharing some tips on dealing with a loved one who has bipolar disorder.

1. 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.

2. 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 of their situation. Be sure to let your loved one know that they can talk to you or act as a welcome distraction. Loving someone with bipolar disorder is about being there for them in whatever way they need.

3. 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. Because the sooner bipolar disorder is treated the better the prognosis may be, 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 now also requires professional attention like our residential drug treatment in Boca.

4. 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.

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


5. 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 like a stroll at the beach or quiet park. Establishing a daily routine can also help, so 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.

6. 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. Before you know it, you will require our addiction treatment in Boca as well.

7. 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 mental health treatment in Boca in order to see results.

8. 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 your 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.

9. 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 relationship 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.


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
Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.