Depression may cause someone to have feelings of unbearable sadness, guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness. The person does not want to feel this way, but can’t control it.
Helping with Depression
Make sure the person’s doctor knows what is happening, and ask if you can help with everyday tasks such as housekeeping, running errands, or watching children. Help your loved one try to stick to some sort of daily routine, even if they would rather stay in bed. Spend quiet time together at home if they don’t feel like talking or going out. Keep reminding your loved one that you are there to offer support. It can be helpful to say things like:
“I’m here for you.”
“I may not understand your pain, but I can offer my support.”
“You are a worthwhile person and you mean a lot to me.”
“Depression (or mania) is coloring how you see things now.”
“Don’t give up. We can get through this together.”
DBSA’s I’m here… is a program which focuses on how to start a conversation with someone about depression or bipolar disorder.
Helping with Bipolar Disorder
Mania may cause a person to believe things that aren’t true, make big plans or life changes, spend money to excess, or do other things that may be dangerous or have major implications down the road. Sometimes a person might be more outgoing or enthusiastic during early stages of mania. Do your best to keep your loved one from doing things that might be harmful. Urge them to put off any plans to start a big project, spend a lot of money, drive a long distance, go out alone at night, meet someone they have only met through the internet, or anything that sounds dangerous to you. Keep in mind that they may insist that everything is under control. You may need to ask other friends, family members, or mental health professionals to intervene and help keep your loved one safe.
Tell them that you’re concerned that they are showing signs of mania, and what they are doing that makes you think so. If appropriate, ask whether they have missed any medication dosages.
Encourage your loved one to see a doctor as soon as possible. Don’t make demands, threats, or ultimatums unless you are fully prepared to follow through with them. Keep yourself safe. If your loved one becomes abusive, call a friend, family member, mental health professional, or 911 for help.