How to Speak to Your Friends and Family About Bipolar Disorder

It's really important to have a support system if you have bipolar disorder. If you're worried about talking to your friends and family, watch this video with Sue Varma, MD, for a pep talk.

close transcript modal


JEHAN: Hi, Dr. Varma. I feel like I'm understanding my bipolar disorder better every day. But sometimes feel like my family
and friends don't always get it. How important is it to have a support system?
And what can I do to help the people in my life better understand my bipolar disorder? This is so important.
The peace of having a support system in our lives is crucial.
A lot of people say, I'm really scared. I don't know how to break the news to my family, I have bipolar disorder.
How do I tell them? And I say, you know what? Tell them like you would tell them anything else. You have to be the first person that
has to accept this diagnosis and to believe in it in a stigma-free way. And only then, can you share this knowledge
with other people. So when you're telling your parents or your friends or your family or partner about it, you can say, listen, I have a mood disorder.
Here's what it is. Don't get scared. I'm not a different person. I'm still the person you know. But from time to time, I'm going to have these episodes.
I'm going to get depressed and I'm going to have difficulty getting out of bed. I'm going to have low energy. I'm going to want to eat a lot and I'm not going
to want to talk to you as much. Or I might have the opposite. I might have symptoms of mania or hypomania, where I think I can take on the world
and I'm going to have excessive amounts of energy. And I'm going to want to talk to all the time and really fast, and my concentration might be all over the place.
But again, I'm still the same person. And at the same time, I know what I need to do about it. I'm talking to a treatment provider.
I'm going to get on medication. And I'm going to need to engage you in being my support system. Are you up for it?

Featured Content


My Story: Dailyn and Bipolar Disorder

Dailyn shares her story, describing her symptoms, the challenges she's overcome, and the challenges patients face when seeking help.

How to Support Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Providing emotional support for a person who is ill with bipolar disorder isn't easy

Patient Perspectives: Bipolar disorder

Four bipolar patients talk about when they knew it was time to seek help.

What Does Living With Bipolar Disorder Feel Like?

For one woman, bipolar disorder felt like being inside a tornado.

Finding the Right Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

People living with bipolar disorder share the challenges, setbacks, and successes they've faced in their journeys to find a bipolar treatment that works.