Mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and depression, affect roughly 20.9 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. An estimated 21.4 percent of U.S. adults will experience a mood disorder at some point in their lives.

People experiencing a mood disorder may exhibit symptoms of mania: heightened mood, decreased need for sleep, irritability or aggression. They may show signs of depression: loss of energy, pessimism, social withdrawal or recurring thoughts of suicide.

It can be difficult for friends and family of a person living with a mood disorder to watch their loved one grapple with challenging symptoms. If you love someone who lives with a mood disorder, you may be feeling helpless, overwhelmed, confused, and hopeless—or you may feel hurt, angry, frustrated, and resentful. You may also have feelings of guilt, shame and isolation, or feelings of sadness, exhaustion, and fear. All of these feelings are normal.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help you as you navigate life with your loved one experiencing a mood disorder.

On this page:

Friends and family of people with mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and depression

Understanding Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for depression and bipolar disorder. The more you understand about what your loved one is going through, the better prepared you will be.

Learn More About Depression

Learn More About Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Your Mood Brochure

Support Groups for Friends and Family

In addition to offering free support groups for people living with depression or bipolar disorder, DBSA offers groups for friends and family of someone living with a mood disorder.

Find a Support Group

How to Help Someone Living with a Mood Disorder

Your loved one’s condition is not your fault (or your loved one’s fault). You can’t make your loved one well, but you can offer support, understanding, and hope.

In addition to encouraging your loved one to keep healthy sleep and exercise habits, it’s important to encourage your loved one to seek professional treatment, whatever that might look like for them.

Learn More About Treatment Options

DBSA offers free wellness tools to assist people living with a mood disorder to assess their overall well-being and work toward stability.

With the Wellness Tracker, users can take note of mood, mental health status, and triggers to get an overview of their day-to-day mental health.

Using the Wellness Wheel, users can assess all aspects of their mental wellness and begin to create goals to work towards.

Learn More About the Wellness Wheel   Learn More about the Wellness Tracker

Preparing for a Mental Health Crisis

As a friend or family member to someone living with a mood disorder, you’re the first line of response should a mental health crisis occur.

Before a crisis happens, have a plan in place. This plan should include emergency contact information, a list of current medications, and instructions for how to handle the situation should your loved one lose their ability to care for themselves.

Create a Crisis Plan   Learn More About Suicide Prevention

Resources for Parents of a Child or Teen Experiencing a Mood Disorder

If you’re a parent or caregiver of a child living with a mood disorder, DBSA offers support groups and resources to help.

Information for Parents and Caregivers   Information for Teens

The Mood Crew

Early childhood is a time when young ones are learning about emotions and finding ways to express them. This fun and engaging educational program, designed for ages 4 to 10, helps adults start positive conversations about feelings with children.

Learn More about the Mood Crew

Support for Parents and Caregivers

To better support parents and caregivers of children who live with a mood disorder, DBSA hosts an online community platform designed to help parents connect with and support one another.

Learn More