How can friends and family help?

This section is for friends and family who want to support someone they know who has hypomania or mania.

Supporting someone with mania or hypomania can be challenging, because the person may feel that there is nothing wrong. They may be feeling very good about themselves and seem full of confidence, and could get angry or defensive if you suggest that there is a problem.

Build trust

By giving your friend or family member space to talk about their feelings when they are well, you establish a trusting relationship with them. If they feel that you understand them, it may make it easier for you to discuss their behaviour when they are experiencing a hypomanic or manic episode.

Assess important decisions

It might be helpful to discuss any upcoming projects or significant life decisions that your friend or family member is going to be faced with in the immediate future, so that you know how to help your friend or family member deal with the project or life decision if they experience a hypomanic or manic episode. If your friend or family member feels that they are at risk for a hypomanic or manic episode in the near future, you may discuss and even help them with postponing their project or life decision. It may be also be helpful to discuss their projects or life decisions to determine whether they are really a good idea, or whether it would be better to wait and deal with their mental health problem before going ahead.

Help with self-management

You could offer to help your friend or family member with their self-management. If they are learning about or practicing self-management techniques to alleviate or cope with their symptoms and avoid triggers, you may offer to learn about the techniques or practice the techniques with them. You may also help them maintain their mood diary, perhaps by finding them helpful templates or reminding them to fill in their mood diary for the day. If you live with the person, you may help them with their self-management by reminding them to maintain a regular sleep schedule or daily routine.

“I told those close to me [about] my hypomanic symptoms, so that they can spot an episode and help prevent [me] overspending or acting rash.”

Plan ahead

It may be helpful to discuss and agree upon in advance what action they would like for you to take if they experience a hypomanic or manic episode. You may, for example, agree to look after their credit card during their episode. You may also agree on which support services you will take them to when they are experiencing their episode, such as a voluntary organisation rather than a psychiatric hospital. If your friend or relative has made an Advance Statement, you may want to remind them of this if they become unwell.

Look out for signs of depression

Many people who experience hypomania or mania also experience depression, so it is important to look out for signs of depression in your friend or family member following their hypomanic or manic episode. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Irregular sleep patterns e.g. inability to sleep, excessive sleep
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless or excessively guilty
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, or suicidal ideation

Request a mental health assessment

If you think your friend or family member may be at risk of hurting themselves or others due to their hypomania or mania, you may request a mental health assessment to determine whether admission to a psychiatric hospital is necessary.

Get support for yourself

It can be distressing to see someone you care about behaving significantly differently from how they normally behave, or if you see someone you care about acting recklessly putting themselves at risk. You may find counselling or a support group helpful, giving you the opportunity to talk about what the relationship is like for you, the feelings you have about the person and what you can do to look after yourself while you are taking care of the person.

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