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 full of confidence, and could get angry 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 can build their trust in you. If they feel that you understand them, it can make it easier for you to discuss more difficult issues at times when they are unwell.

Assess important decisions

It might be helpful to talk through any projects that your friend or relative is planning when they are unwell. Writing down the possible dangers and risks can help them to decide whether their plans are really a good idea, and whether it would be better to wait before going ahead.

Help with self-management

You could offer to help the person if they are using techniques to self-manage their symptoms and avoid triggers. You could help them to keep a mood diary or, if you live together, support them to start a regular sleep 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 might be helpful to agree in advance what action they would like you

to take if they have a severe episode. You might, for example, agree to look after their bank cards if they have a tendency to overspend. You might also agree on which support services they would prefer to use; for example, going to a voluntary organisation rather than hospital. If your friend or relative has made an advance statement (see p.12), you may want to remind them of this if they become unwell.

Look out for signs of depression

Many people who experience mania or hypomania also experience depression, so it is important to look out for signs of depression following a manic or hypomanic episode.

Request a mental health assessment

If you think your friend or family member may be at risk of hurting themselves or others, it may be necessary to seek compulsory admission to hospital.

Get support for yourself

It can be distressing to see someone you care about behaving differently from normal, and putting themselves at risk. You might find counselling or a support group can help, 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.

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