Ways to support a person who is experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode include:
- Supporting the person’s treatment
- Communicating calmly and avoiding lengthy heated conversations
- Dealing with risky behavior
Supporting the person’s treatment
If the person has not seen their clinician, encourage or offer to assist them to access treatment. If the clinician has prescribed medication to assist the person to relax, rest and sleep to reduce manic or hypomanic symptoms at home, consider how you can support the person to be able to do this. A person who is severley manic or in a mixed episode and at risk of serious or life threatening consequences needs urgent medical help (see ways to help in a bipolar crisis).
Help to reduce triggers that aggravate the person’s symptoms (e.g.reduce stimulation that makes their hypomania or mania worse such as noise, clutter, caffeine, social gatherings).
Communicating when the person is manic or hypomanic
Answer questions briefly, quietly, calmly and honestly. Avoid being drawn into long conversations or arguments with the person as these can be overstimulating and upsetting and make hypomania or mania worse. People with elevated moods are vulnerable despite their apparent confidence, and they tend to take offence easily.
Don’t believe that you have to participate in the persons’ numerous projects and goals. Be cautious about becoming swept up by the person’s hypomanic or manic mood.
If the person starts to argue try to remain detached. Consider postponing the discussion (e.g. say something that is kind but firm such as “I can see this means a lot to you and we need to discuss it, but I am upset and tired now. Let’s discuss it in the morning when my head is clearer”). It might also help to talk about a more neutral topic.
Dealing with risky or inappropriate manic or hypomanic behavior?
Risky or inappropriate behaviour is a common symptom of hypomania, mania or mixed states (e.g. reckless spending, unrealistic projects, gambling, promiscuity and reckless driving). When hypomanic or manic, the person may sometimes be irritable and critical. Physical aggression is occasionally linked to mania or mixed states. For suggestions about ways to deal with risky behavior and its consequences see:
- More about dealing with risky or inappropriate manic or hypomanic behavior
- If the person is ill, irritable and very critical of you
- Risk of physical aggression?
- If negative consequences do occur