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Bipolar Disorder: Helping Someone During a Manic Episode

Overview

You may feel frustrated around a person with bipolar disorder who is having a manic episode. The high energy level can be tiring or even scary. The person may also actually enjoy the mania and may not take medicines, which can make the episode last longer. Also, the person may say and do unusual or hurtful things. Here are some ways you can help during a manic episode.

  • Spend time with the person.

    People who are manic often feel isolated from other people. Spending even short periods of time with them helps them feel less isolated. If the person has a lot of energy, walk together. This allows the person to keep on the move but share your company.

  • Answer questions honestly.

    But don't argue or debate with a person during a manic episode. Avoid intense conversation.

  • Don't take comments or behavior personally.

    During periods of high energy, a person often says and does things that he or she would not usually say or do. This can include focusing on negative aspects of others. If needed, stay away from the person and avoid arguments.

  • Prepare easy-to-eat foods and drinks.

    It may be difficult for the person to sit down to a meal during periods of high energy, so offer easy to eat foods. Examples are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, cheese and crackers, and juices.

  • Keep surroundings as quiet as possible.

    Help them avoid a lot of activity and stimulation.

  • Allow the person to sleep whenever possible.

    During periods of high energy, sleeping is difficult and short naps may be taken throughout the day. Sometimes the person feels rested after only 2 to 3 hours of sleep.

Call a health professional if you have questions or concerns about the behavior of a person who has bipolar disorder. Always call a health professional (or 911 or other emergency services) if you think they are in danger of causing any harm to themself or others.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health

Research Health Topics

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