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How can I help my friend who I think has bipolar disorder?

answered 01:13 AM EST, Tue October 08, 2013
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anonymous anonymous
I have this friend who I think is bipolar or something similar. He doesn’t want to talk about it. I don’t know for sure but sometimes he seems very manic, talking a mile a minute, and sometimes he is very paranoid and depressed seeming. Maybe it is not true bipolar because he never seems to lose touch with reality completely but it is definitely soemthing. Usually I only see him in his manic phases because he won’t answer the phone for days at a time when he depressed and he won’t tell me where he lives even though we are sort of good friends. He has some very weird paranoia issues about people knowing too much about him. I have known him for 10 years and I like him and trust him. He house sits for me when I am frequently away. He just lost his part time computer job. It was pretty much data entry and didn’t pay much but he was surviving on it. I don’t know what got him fired but I have to guess it was erratic behavior. I actually lost it on him last night because I am trying to do a work renovation and I asked him to help out as labor so I could pay him a bit but he would not stop with his crazy ideas and interrupting everyone to consider his schemes. He apologized after and said he hasn’t been sleeping well for days. I offered to take him to a hospital and he won’t go. I said I would pay for his expenses to see a doctor and he still won’t go. I really want to help him but I do not know what to do and I am very worried about how he will survive. He has no family living in this country.

Penny Bell Says...

Penny Bell P. Bell
Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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Bipolar disorder is an illness which affects the normal functioning of the brain, so that the person experiences extreme moods - they can become high, over-excited and reckless, or imagine that they are more important or influential than they actually are. They can also become extremely low, feeling helpless and depressed, with difficulty making decisions or concentrating.

Bipolar disorder I is the more severe disorder, with the person being more likely to experience mania, have longer 'highs', be more likely to have psychotic experiences (that include delusions and hallucinations) and be more likely to be hospitalised. Bipolar disorder II is diagnosed when a person experiences the symptoms of a high, or “hypomania”, but with no psychotic experiences.

A person experiencing hypomania can have high energy levels with the person feeling “wired”, with racing thoughts and rapid speech, racing from one plan to another and sleeping less. They can have a positive mood in which they feel confident, capable, optimistic, and creative. They can also feel irritable and impatient. They can display inappropriate behaviour – spending, drinking or gambling excessively, and acting impulsively. They can feel as if they are creatively excelling, or have special ‘mystical’ experiences.

Your friend does sound as if he is experiencing these sorts of symptoms, and I can understand how frustrating it is for you that he is refusing your help at this time. What you can do though is explain to him that you are concerned about him, and why, and provide him with some information – a link to a website, a pamphlet, or a book – that you think may be relevant. Let him know you are there to support him, and if at any time he would like to seek professional help, that you are available to assist him with this.

Be aware that some people with bipolar disorder can become suicidal, and if your friend begins to indicate that he is thinking in this manner, it is important that you take this seriously and make sure he is seen, assessed and treated by whatever mental health team or facility is available in your area.

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Page last updated Oct 08, 2013

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Penny Bell - Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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