How to Help Someone in A Manic State

How to Help Someone in A Manic State

Formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, ranging from extreme highs to depressing lows. This condition can affect a person’s energy levels, mood, activity levels, concentration, and ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. It can be frustrating to be around someone with bipolar disorder who’s experiencing a manic episode. Their sudden boost in energy and activity can be exhausting and even frightening, but there are ways you can help. Below are some tips on how to help someone in a manic state so you can prevent the individual from saying or doing something they may regret during an episode of mania.


Manic Episode Criteria: What Is Mania?

In people with bipolar disorder, a manic episode or mania refers to a period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood and high energy, accompanied by behavioral changes that are disrupting the person’s day-to-day life. Most people with bipolar disorder also suffer from episodes of depression.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), manic episode symptoms must be present for most of the days, nearly every day for a week. These symptoms include:

  • Elevated mood
  • Expansive or irritable mood
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • More talkative than usual or exhibits pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Easily distracted
  • Increase in goal-oriented activity
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that are risky (unrestrained buying sprees, risky sexual behavior, foolish business investments)


How to Help Someone Having a Manic Episode

If someone you know is experiencing a manic episode, you may have to cope with reckless antics, outrageous demands, explosive outbursts, and irresponsible decisions. Once this tornado of mania has passed, it often falls to the person’s loved ones to cope with the aftermath.

While bipolar disorder treatment and other forms of professional care are crucial and helpful in managing a person’s manic and depressive episodes, their support system at home is also important in their recovery. If you’re close to someone with bipolar disorder, below are some tips on how to help someone in a manic state that can prepare you to help your loved one pick up the pieces after an episode of mania.


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Spend Time With Them

Many people with bipolar disorder tend to feel isolated during episodes of mania as well as depression. Depending on their energy level, try to keep them company, so they don’t feel like they’re coping with everything on their own. If the person has a lot of energy, go out for a walk with them and keep them talking and engaged in conversation to help them ride through the episode easier.


Give Them Space

While this may seem contradictory to our previous tip, some people simply need space during manic episodes. It’s easy to feel combative, defensive, and overwhelmed during a manic episode, so the person may feel as if you’re hovering over them.

If you notice the early signs of mania in the other person, allow them to go into their room alone and give them space. If you’d prefer to keep an eye on them because their behavior seems dangerous, then sit them down and try to watch tv or gently distract them with conversation.


Be Honest Without Arguing

It’s normal for people who are experiencing mania to have full-blown conversations that may seem like they’re going a mile a minute. If they ask you any questions, be honest without being argumentative.

Avoid having any intense conversations. Instead, try to keep it light. You can talk about sports or the weather or an interesting book or movie.


Set Protective Measures

Due to the increased sense of self-confidence and energy, it’s normal for people to want to quit their jobs, start a new business, or spend dangerously large amounts of money during a manic episode. If you know that your loved one has a tendency to tackle Amazon during a manic episode, set up a system where you take their cards and phone to prevent them from spending.

Do not do this by force, but rather set up a game plan when they’re not experiencing mania or depression. This is also a great way to prevent the individual from engaging in other compensatory and risky behaviors like alcohol abuse or over-exercising.


Don’t Take What They Say to Heart

Some people with bipolar disorder want to be left alone during a manic episode. It’s also common for people during these episodes to say things that may be hurtful or frustrating.

As hard as it can be, it’s important not to take these things to heart. The person can’t help but be irritable, frustrated, or isolated, so it’s crucial to remain patient and look at the bigger picture, so you don’t develop a sense of bitterness or hurt from their actions.


Prepare Easy-to-Eat Meals

It’s normal for people to neglect food or not be able to sit down and eat during an episode of mania. To make this easier for the person and ensure that they get some food into their system, prepare quick meals like sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and pieces of fruit.


Encourage Some Behaviors

To an extent, sometimes it’s helpful for the person to simply allow them to ride whatever idea they’re focused on during a manic episode. However, do this within reason.

For instance, if the person feels the need to clean the entire house, let them. Cleaning can be therapeutic, and it’s a safer alternative to behaviors like overspending.

However, if the person suddenly has a business idea they want to tackle and wants to quit their current job so they can get started right away, gently discourage them with the idea by presenting some valid points.


Give Their Psychiatrist a Call

Sometimes you need extra help in managing the person’s symptoms, so if you can’t figure out what to do when someone is manic, call their psychiatrist. Their doctor works personally with the person and knows details of their condition that you may not.

If the person’s mania is too much for you to cope with at the moment, for their safety and yours, give their doctor a call for advice on what to do. They might even request you bring the person to see them.


Remind Them About Their Medication

For many people with bipolar disorder, medication is a big determining factor in their mood and the state of their symptoms. If you notice that the person’s manic symptoms are severe, kindly ask them if they’ve eaten and taken their medication.

If they haven’t, bring their medication to them. Avoid making them feel bad about missing or skipping their medication.


Prepare for a Depressive Episode

Learning how to help someone in a manic episode isn’t just about helping them get through their manic symptoms, but it’s also about being prepared to help them in the aftermath of this episode. People with bipolar disorder may go through a period of depression following an episode of mania, during which their mood may do a 180.

Rather than being irritable, energetic, and goal-driven, the person may feel extremely sad, tired, fatigued, and wish to be isolated from everyone. As a person may engage in risky behaviors during manic episodes, suicidal thoughts and actions may also present themselves during depressive episodes.

Be prepared to offer this person the love and support they need following a manic episode. Be there to help them pick up the pieces. Let them sleep as much as they need to, encourage them to eat, and simply offer them company, so they know they aren’t alone.


Help for Bipolar Disorder

Figuring out what to do when someone is having a manic episode can be challenging, especially if the person’s diagnosis is recent. If you have a loved one with this disorder, it’s important to educate yourself and research ways you can offer them support.

In addition to encouraging at-home support, our luxury rehab also encourages those who have bipolar disorder or suspect that they may have it to reach out to our facility for help. Including mental health treatment for bipolar disorder, our luxury treatment center in Palm Beach also offers various therapy programs to teach patients how to properly manage their symptoms.


For more information about our mental health treatment in South Florida, call Seaside Palm Beach today at 561-677-9374.


Related Reading:

Can Trauma Cause Bipolar Disorder?

Different Types of Depression

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