How Does Therapy Help in the Treatment of Depression?

A woman wondering how does therapy help in the treatment of depression

Understanding Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that may feel overwhelming or isolating at times. However, given the proper care, even the most severe cases are treatable. 

 

Also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), depression is a mood disorder that affects over 264 million people around the world. It is a leading cause of disability, economic stress, and lowered quality of life.

 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is no single cause of depression.

 

It may develop due to a combination of factors, such as chemical imbalances, genetics, stress, and/or traumatic life events such as grief or abuse. It may also manifest alongside or due to other medical conditions, such as anxiety disorder, cancer, or substance abuse.

 

Fortunately, depression is treatable. One commonly effective treatment option is behavior therapy.

 

Behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy (AKA “talk therapy”) where patients and therapists work together to address underlying personal issues and behavior patterns.

 

Therapists may specialize in several forms of behavior therapy, including:

  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT): A short-term form of therapy often used to treat mild to moderate depression. With IPT, patients focus on their relationships with others by improving social skills and developing problem-solving techniques to reduce stress and alleviate depressive symptoms. 
 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Another short-term therapy method, CBT is often used to treat depression. CBT is centered on introspective goals and tackling negative thought patterns and behaviors to help alleviate symptoms of depression.
 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT is a modified form of CBT that focuses on coping strategies and regulating emotions. This may be done through several methods, such as mindfulness, self-soothing, and improved communication skills.
 

If you’re interested in professional help, here’s what you need to know about therapy and what to expect once you start.

Signs of Depression 

Just as there are different types of therapy, there are also different types of depression, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression

 

That said, all forms of depression share symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Prolonged periods of low mood and energy
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Trouble sleeping or irregular sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Headaches, backaches, and other unexplained chronic pain
  • Loss of interest in daily activities and hobbies
  • Isolation and withdrawal from friends and family members
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Acts of self-harm
 

How Does Therapy Help with Depression?

There are several ways to treat depression, but generally, they boil down to three methods: medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

 

Antidepressant medication can help manage symptoms. However, it typically isn’t a long-term solution as medication may become less effective over time or cause unwanted side effects.

 

Meanwhile, treatment plans that incorporate psychodynamic therapy have the potential to encourage healthy lifestyle changes and tackle negative behavioral patterns without the need for medication. 

 

Mental health care professionals may also advise a combination of both medication and therapy to target the internal and external causes of depression.

 

Here are a few other ways therapy can help:

 

1. Talk openly about your feelings and thoughts in a safe environment 

As an impartial third party, counselors and psychotherapists are not here to judge or shame you. Their goal is to provide a safe, confidential space to express yourself and be unapologetically vulnerable about your emotions. If you don’t think larger support groups are right for you, individual therapy is a way to still talk openly in an intimate and safe space.

 

2. Identify key life events and triggers that contribute to depression 

There are some things in life we can’t confront on our own. With a therapist, you can learn how to identify triggers, discuss past trauma, or analyze life events that have unknowingly affected your mental health.

 

3. Identify unhealthy coping mechanisms 

Not everyone realizes they need help until someone points it out. As mental health professionals, therapists are capable of identifying and addressing unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as negative thinking patterns, substance abuse, or disordered eating habits.

 

4. Develop skills to cope with symptoms in a healthy way 

Everyone experiences depression differently. Likewise, everyone copes with it differently. Through therapy, you can discover what coping strategies work best for you in a secure, comfortable space.

 

5. Set realistic and achievable goals for a healthy future 

Setting realistic goals is vital in managing depression. Your therapist can guide you towards recovery by focusing first on your daily life and ways to improve your current well-being. Gradually, you’ll be able to build a healthier, happier future.

Getting Therapy for Depression? Keep These Things in Mind

For therapy to be successful, there needs to be room for trial and error. You may encounter setbacks or revelations that are hard to accept. However, with a little time and patience, you may find that even the most difficult therapy sessions are effective. 

 

Here are a few other things to keep in mind while attending therapy:

 

1. Finding the right therapist takes time

There is no “one size fits all” for therapy, much less for therapists. While seeking professional help, keep an open mind and be prepared to try again if a therapist isn’t right for you.

 

2. Once you’ve found the right therapist, the therapy itself will take time

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), many patients with depression see improvement within 10 to 15 sessions. However, depending on the individual and the severity of their illness, it may take longer before treatment shows consistent, positive results.

 

It’s important to remember that this is all part of the process, and there is nothing wrong with attending therapy for months or even years if that’s what you need.

 

3. You might have to make lifestyle changes (sleep, diet, exercise, etc.)

Both mild and severe depression can lead to other health problems, such as chronic pain or insomnia. To help alleviate these issues and improve your mental well-being, you may need to make some changes. 

 

For example, your therapist may recommend daily exercise, changes to your diet, or self-care tips to improve your sleep and relationship with loved ones. 

 

4. You might feel worse before you start to feel better

In the beginning, you may struggle with your self-esteem, fall into a depressive episode, or have a lot of doubts about therapy or your therapist.

 

However, as with other treatment plans, therapy has a learning curve. It may take a little time before you see positive results, but as you continue, therapy will gradually become more effective.

 

5. Go to all of your appointments, even if you don’t have anything to talk about

Your mental illness isn’t the epicenter of your life, though it may feel like it. By attending every session, you can take the opportunity to discuss other aspects of your life and learn how to see yourself without the lens of depression.

 

Get Support with Emote Online Therapy 

Given the right kind of support, depression is a highly treatable and oftentimes temporary condition. Unfortunately, getting professional care can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

 

Cut out months-long waitlists and get the help you need today by signing up for Emote’s affordable, easy-to-use online therapy services

 

By working with our team of mental health care professionals, you can discover coping strategies, self-care techniques, and other mental health resources to help tackle your depression.

 

If you’re not up to a one-on-session, you’re free to text your therapist throughout your day or set up a video appointment as soon as you start to feel better.

 

With Emote, you’re not alone.

 

Sign up today and take your first step towards recovery for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about how Emote can help you, check out our informational posts or contact us.

How to Help Someone Struggling with Anger and Depression

A woman battling with anger and depression.

How are Anger and Depression Connected?

“Anger is just sad’s bodyguard.” If you know someone who suffers from depression, you may resonate with this quote.

 

Depression is more than just feeling sad or hopeless. It’s a serious mental illness that affects daily life. It also manifests differently for everyone. 

 

Typical symptoms include a persistently low mood, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and disinterest in usual activities and hobbies. 

 

For some people, depression may also be linked to other mental disorders such as an eating disorder, substance abuse, or insomnia—but for others, depression may present itself through a less common symptom: anger.

 

Anger is a normal, if unpleasant, emotion we all experience. However, in the case of depression, anger may be overwhelming, volatile, and difficult to control.

 

A person who experiences both depression and anger management issues may struggle with:

  • A short temper
  • Overly self-critical or angry thoughts
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism
  • Frequent road rage 
  • Explosive outbursts over unimportant matters
  • Verbal and/or physical abuse towards themselves or other
  • Anger attacks
 

Although anger is not a mental health disorder on its own, it can be an indicator of a greater issue and may require professional help. If someone close to you struggles with anger and depression, here’s how you can support them.

9 Ways to Support Someone with Anger and Depression

As with any illness, depression requires love, care, and most of all, understanding. This may be difficult, especially if a loved one has said or done hurtful things while depressed. 

 

Although you should never accept bad behavior, it’s important to remember that depression is a complex mental health condition. Not everything may be as it seems.

 

People with depression sometimes experience major depressive episodes (MDEs). During an episode, their mental health may decline, leading to overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

 

For some people, these feelings may manifest through anger. One study in 2013 reported that over half of participants with MDEs also reported overt feelings of anger and irritability

 

When offering your support, here are a few ways you can help without enabling or accepting negative behavior:

 

1. Don’t forget to take care of yourself

To be an effective support person, you need to prioritize your well-being. You are not their therapist nor can you be emotionally available 24/7, especially if you feel burnt out or unsafe. 

 

Take time to tend to your own needs. Practice self-care by enforcing boundaries and voicing your opinions. Reinvest time into friends, family, and interests outside of them.

 

Physical and/or verbal abuse is never okay, even if the person is unwell. If their behavior has greatly affected your mental health or resulted in domestic violence, it’s time to step away. Consider reaching out to the helplines listed here for additional support.

 

2. Educate yourself on depression

Not everyone experiences depression the same way. This also applies to treatment options; what may work for one person may not work for you or your loved one. Research is key.

 

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, major depressive disorder (MDD) affects over 16.1 million Americans and is often associated with anxiety disorder. A different study has also linked anxiety with increased levels of anger.

 

In cases of either or both conditions, medication (e.g. antidepressants), support groups, or therapy may be effective in managing symptoms.

 

3. Learn their triggers

Triggers are psychological responses to reminders of past trauma and may prompt upsetting emotions, such as anxiety or stress.

 

Although triggers may be mild, they can also turn physical. For example, a person with depression and anger issues may direct their emotions on themselves through self-harm. According to the Recovery Village, adolescents have the highest rates of self-harm.

 

To help someone with triggers, identify their specific warning signs. Ask questions without being pushy and note what may have caused a sudden mood swing or an angry outburst.  

 

In some cases, triggers may lead to suicidal ideation. If you suspect someone is suicidal, do not leave them alone. If needed, call 911 or encourage them to speak to a crisis hotline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

4. Don’t judge, blame, or attack them

Mental illness often affects interpersonal relationships. When supporting a person with depression and anger issues, don’t judge or blame them for their mental illness. Shame is rarely helpful and may push them away from you or provoke an emotional outburst.

 

However, do not condone their bad behavior either. Honest communication is vital when addressing not only their needs but yours as well.

 

5. Make an effort to invite them out and do engaging activities together

People with depression often have low self-esteem. They may be consumed by negative thoughts and believe they are unloved or hated and try to socially isolate themselves.

 

Take the first step and invite them to go out. Encourage them to re-engage with past hobbies by doing activities together. By being physically present—and verbally reaffirming that you care for them—your support may be felt when they need it most.

 

6. Don’t retaliate or engage in a fight/argument

When faced with an emotional outburst or an anger attack, do not engage with them negatively. Try to keep your cool and acknowledge their feelings without undermining your own. Diffuse the argument by speaking calmly and listening to what they have to say.

 

If they’re acting in a way that is physically unsafe for you, remove yourself from the situation. If you believe they may harm themselves, call a helpline or 911 immediately. 

7. Find healthy coping mechanisms to diffuse anger (breathing exercises, meditation, etc.)

Healthy coping mechanisms can help alleviate anger and manage depression.

 

Deep breathing exercises, such as the 4-7-8 Breath, can settle frantic thoughts, quiet overwhelming emotions, and relax the body. You may also suggest mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is the practice of acknowledging your senses and feelings without judgment or action via mediation. Mindfulness can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

8. Have resources readily available

Emotional outbursts can drain what little energy a person with depression has. By directing them towards resources available both off- and online, they can seek help even when they’re at their lowest.

 

If they are comfortable with it, check in to keep them accountable with their treatment plan. Remind them of healthy coping strategies and suggest fun distractions. Help them with things they may find overwhelming such as filing for insurance, making appointments, or reaching out to helplines.

 

9. Encourage them to seek professional help

Psychotherapy can help treat depression and anger management issues. One study showed that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in treating patients with excessive anger and depression.

 

Begin by gently encouraging them. Mental health professionals like therapists and counselors can provide tools and resources friends and family members cannot. Therapy can also provide a safe space to discuss difficult or intimate topics.

 

If in-person appointments are not an option, therapy can be conducted online without sacrificing comfort or quality of care.

 

Get the Help You Need with Emote Online Therapy

Getting help can be scary if you don’t know where to start. At Emote, you don’t have to take that first step alone.

 

Through our online services, therapy is on your terms. You can communicate when and how you want—whether that’s through text or video chat appointments, Emote provides a safe space wherever you go.

 

Our team of certified therapists is here to empower you and your loved ones. Whatever challenges you may be facing, you can face them together or, if you prefer, individually through one-on-one encrypted sessions. 

 

Learn coping skills, discuss difficult subjects, and diffuse overwhelming emotions like anger or depressive episodes by reaching out at a moment’s notice. 

 

Sign up today and start therapy for only $35 during your first week. For more information about mental health, check out our blog or contact us to learn more.

My Partner Has Depression… How Can I Help Them?

Coping with how to help a partner with depression.

Is My Partner Depressed? How Can I Tell?

When the person we love is struggling with something they can neither fix nor explain, as their other half, all we want to do is help

 

This is especially true in the case of mental illnesses like depression.

 

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. Globally, it affects over 264 million people and approximately 17.3 million American adults

 

As everyone experiences depression differently, it may manifest in ways your partner may mistake or excuse as something else, like stress or fatigue.

 

However, as their partner, you may have noticed changes in their mood or behavior. They may often appear sad or tired for long periods or are constantly unmotivated and struggle to get things done.

 

Signs of depression may also manifest as:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Changes in their sleep and appetite
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Inability to keep up with daily activities
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or thinking
  • General dissatisfaction and carelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Trouble concentrating at work and/or school
  • Angry or emotional outbursts
  • Thoughts/talk of death or suicide
 

If your partner has depression, offering your love and support can be pivotal in learning how to manage their symptoms and possibly recover

 

In this article, we’ll go over what you can do to support a depressed partner and how they can get professional help.

10 Ways to Help Your Partner Dealing with Depression

Depression can be an exhausting and sometimes confusing illness. Someone with depression may not even realize they’re unwell or, if they do, they may choose to suffer in silence rather than ask for help due to internalized stigma.

 

But as their partner, you have the power to motivate them simply through words and actions.

 

To help you get started, here are a few ways you can show your support:

 

1. Let your partner know you’re always there for them.

People with depression often struggle with negative thoughts and believe they are worthless or unlovable due to supposed faults.

By vocalizing your commitment to them, you can help reaffirm their self-worth and remind them they are lovable, no matter what.

 

2. Educate yourself on their symptoms and triggers.

Depressive symptoms may be chronic or temporary, severe or mild. Some people have consistent mood levels, while others fall into depressive episodes due to triggers.

Though it’s impossible to fully comprehend someone’s mental health, by learning more about their illness and how it works, you can better understand their needs. 

 

3. Come up with an action plan together for really bad days.

You and your partner can draft up an action plan. An action plan is essentially a strategy your partner can employ during a difficult depressive episode.

An action plan may be things they can do to pick up their mood, helplines they can call, or ways you can help out without being asked, such as cooking their favorite or completing a chore for them.

 

4. Plan fun and engaging activities you can do together.

According to research, physical activity can be effective in both preventing and managing symptoms of depression.

Encourage exercise by trying new and fun outdoor activities together, like bike riding or hiking. You can also help your partner get back into old hobbies by doing them outdoors. Even if it’s sedentary, fresh air and sunlight can help pick up their mood.

 

5. Don’t take it personally.

You can’t control your partner’s depression. On bad days, they may act distant or irritable. They may snap at you or withdraw from family members and friends. 

It’s important to remember that it’s not you—it’s the depression, and it’s best not to take things too personally.

 

6. Have professional and medical resources readily available.

People who are mentally ill sometimes feel like they must “endure” their illness, even when it’s hard. 

Reassure them that that’s never the case by suggesting support groups, prevention hotlines, and treatment options available to them. Mental health professionals like therapists and counselors can also provide resources for depression. 

 

7. Don’t assume what your partner needs. Ask first. 

Being a part of someone’s support system calls for compassion and empathy.

By asking questions like, “What do you need me to do?” or “How can I help you during an episode?” you’re respecting their agency and reminding them that you’re here to help.

 

8. Try to stick to healthy routines and diets (without forcing it upon them).

To effectively create healthy habits, researchers suggest sticking to simple actions you can do every day at scheduled times. Though this sounds easy, there may be days where your partner can’t get out of bed, much less follow a routine.

Promote wellness through gentle encouragement and positive affirmations. Never push your partner nor enable codependent behavior, as both can reinforce feelings of helplessness.

 

9. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too!

Just as your partner’s mental health is important, so is yours.

Practice self-care by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. Remember to spend time apart by focusing on your own life and hobbies. 

If you’re feeling burnt out or depressed yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help

 

10. Encourage professional treatment, don’t force it on them

When it comes to getting professional help such as psychotherapy, your partner may be hesitant or scared. Never force the subject or make ultimatums. Instead, gently remind them that they have options, and you’d be happy to help them in whatever way they’re comfortable with.

What Not to Say to Your Partner Dealing with Depression

Like in any relationship, you may sometimes say the wrong thing. You may upset your partner without meaning to or offer empty platitudes and unsolicited advice when you shouldn’t.

 

Though you mean well, it’s important to think before you speak.

 

When discussing your partner’s mental health, here’s what you shouldn’t say:

 

“This is what your problem is.”

Don’t try to explain away their illness or identify how they are “failing.” Though it may sound like you’re offering worthwhile advice (and you might be), someone with depression won’t necessarily take it that way if it’s delivered too frankly.

 

“What’s the matter with you?”

Someone with depression may be sensitive to criticism or rejection, whether intended or not. When addressing their feelings or bringing up your concerns, avoid speaking in an accusatory and/or exasperated manner.

 

“Others have it way worse than you.”

Comparing your partner’s pain to others (including your own) is never helpful. It only serves to shame and devalue their personal experiences with depression. 

 

“You’re so lucky. What do you have to be depressed about?”

Mental illness never requires justification. People can’t control how or why they develop depression any more than they can control the weather. Furthermore, it’s impossible to fully comprehend another person’s mental health, much less their life experiences.

 

“It’s all in your head. It’ll pass.”

Though depressive symptoms may change over time, it is no less real than a broken arm. Statements like these reaffirm the idea that depression isn’t a real disease that requires proper care and support.

 

“But you seem totally fine.”

Someone’s (perceived) physical well-being is not a reflection of their mental health. To add, people with depression tend to not only withdraw from friends and family members but may also hide their illness due to internalized shame or guilt.

 

“Just cheer up. It’ll get better.”

No matter how severe or mild your partner’s depression is, it cannot be wished away or fixed through sheer willpower. Though you may mean well, comments like these can come off as disheartening and dismissive of their health.

 

Know the Suicide Warning Signs

Depression can sometimes cause overwhelming, negative thoughts that distort perception and create feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. Such thoughts may lead to suicidal ideation and, in severe cases, suicidal intent.

 

If you believe someone with depression may be suicidal, there are several warnings signs to look out for, including:

  • Talking about suicide/glorifying death
  • Social withdrawal
  • Getting a means to attempt suicide (gun, pills, etc.)
  • Risky or self-destructive behavior such as alcohol or drug abuse
  • Saying goodbye 
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Talks of being a burden or feeling trapped
  • Giving away possessions
  • Taking strange trips by themselves
 

If you believe someone is suicidal, do not leave them alone. Call 911 for immediate assistance or contact a helpline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.

 

You can also reach out to other crisis resources listed here.

 

There is Hope with Emote Online Therapy

Depression can affect many aspects of our lives, including our relationship with our significant other or those closest to us.

 

It may create unforeseen challenges or lead to misunderstandings that make it hard for both people to cope. However, with professional help, you and your partner can learn how to heal and possibly overcome depression—together.

 

At Emote, we offer couples the chance to strengthen their relationship and tackle issues as a team through dedicated online therapy sessions.

 

With our remote services, you can take therapy wherever you go. Text your therapist as depressive episodes occur or develop long-term treatment plans over private video chat appointments.

 

With Emote, you’re not alone.

 

Discover effective coping strategies, couples exercises, and more by signing up today for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about your experience with Emote, check out our FAQ or reach out to us at [email protected]

10 Ways to Help Someone Suffering From Bipolar Disorder

How to help someone with bipolar disorder depicted in a watercolor painting

What is Bipolar Disorder?

When a loved one is diagnosed with bipolar disorder (BD), we may feel overwhelmed or powerless. But given the right tools and information, we can learn how to offer support and encourage them to seek help.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 7 million adult Americans have bipolar disorder. Sometimes called manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes severe and sometimes sudden mood changes. 

These mood changes (or mood episodes) may range from extreme highs (mania or hypomania) to extreme lows (depression). They may occur rarely or several times a year. 

For some people, episodes can be debilitating—impairing their ability to function in day-to-day activities, control their impulses, or listen to medical advice. 

Emotional support from friends and family members can be pivotal in overcoming such episodes.

If you want to support someone with bipolar disorder, here’s what you need to know. 

Bipolar Disorder and Depression: The Warning Signs to Know

Bipolar disorder exists on a spectrum, meaning everyone experiences it differently.

Ordinarily, there are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia), also called bipolar III disorder. If someone experiences some symptoms of bipolar disorder but does not meet the criteria for I, II, or III, they may be diagnosed with unspecified bipolar disorder.

In some cases, the disorder is induced by substance abuse, medication, or another unrelated medical condition.

Each form of the disorder differs in terms of severity and treatment methods, but symptoms can often intersect. Each is characterized by two mood episodes: mania and depression. Some people also experience hypomania, a lesser case of mania that may be mild enough that episodes go unnoticed.

Mood episodes typically do not follow a pattern. They may not occur for long periods of time or come on without warning. Sometimes, they occur at the same time, also known as a mixed state.

Manic or hypomanic symptoms include:

  • Very extreme emotions
  • Unrealistic beliefs of one’s capabilities (euphoria)
  • Abnormally energized, hyper, or upbeat
  • Talking so rapidly that others can’t understand or keep up
  • Inability to concentrate or focus 
  • Acting recklessly without thinking or caring for consequences
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Racing thoughts

Depressive symptoms include:

  • Irritability 
  • Changes in appetite and sleep
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Feeling sad, angry, or empty
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

10 Ways to Help Someone Suffering From Bipolar Disorder

When a loved one has bipolar disorder, you may have a lot of questions. You may also feel stressed or scared, especially if it’s a recent diagnosis. 

In the beginning, neither you nor the person with the disorder will have all the answers—and that’s okay. The best thing you can do is offer your support and be willing to learn alongside them.

To help you get started, here are a few ways you can support someone with bipolar disorder:

1. Educate yourself

When someone we know is diagnosed with a mental health condition like bipolar disorder, we may be taken by surprise. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is likely no single cause behind bipolar disorder. People with a family history of the disorder are at a greater risk of developing it than those without. Abnormal brain functions and past trauma are also possible factors.

When faced with unknowns, one of the best things you can do is educate yourself. While you can’t prepare for everything, information will be your greatest tool if the unexpected happens.

2. Listen without judgment

Another way you can help is by being a compassionate listener. You can do this by offering a safe space for them to express their anxieties, frustrations, and triumphs. 

Don’t try to provide all the answers; instead, remind them of their strength and how far they’ve come. By simply bolstering their courage, you’re helping them face their fears and discover new ways to healthily cope.

3. Don’t try to fix all their problems for them

Any mental illness comes with challenges, many of which may be beyond our capabilities as a support person.

Severe depressive or manic episodes may come on without warnings. At other times, your loved one may refuse help, act irrationally, or encounter setbacks with their treatment. 

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know your limits. Respect the advice of mental health professionals and step back when you need to.

4. Learn their triggers and avoid situations that can trigger them

Triggers are reminders of a traumatic event. They can be caused by external or internal stimuli, such as sounds, places, people, or upsetting thoughts and feelings.

Triggers may be mild, or they may be severe enough to set off an episode of mania and/or depression.

If they are comfortable with it, ask about the circumstances leading up to previous episodes to identify potential triggers. If they already know what their triggers are, ask them to share them with you so you know what to avoid.

In severe cases, triggers may prompt suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt. If you believe someone is suicidal, contact a helpline or call 911 immediately.

5. Set firm and healthy boundaries

Bipolar disorder can lead to poor impulse control and difficulty managing interpersonal relationships. Someone with the disorder may act or do things that upset you whether they’re in the middle of an episode or not.

Setting boundaries is a vital act of self-care. Boundaries also help establish your limits and keep you from enabling unhealthy and possibly dangerous behavior.

6. Don’t neglect yourself and your own mental health 

No matter what your loved one is going through, remember to take care of yourself first. You can’t help someone if you’re also mentally unwell.

Spend time apart to focus on your own life. Remember to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

7. Engage in outdoor and fun activities together

During a depressive episode, someone with bipolar disorder may isolate themselves by sleeping all day, canceling plans, and staying inside. This can sometimes worsen symptoms.

Gently encourage them to spend time outside. Regular exercise may be beneficial for some people with bipolar disorder. If they can’t manage much, suggest a walk on a sunny day or plan a fun activity outdoors that you can do together.

8. Make sure they take their medications

Bipolar disorder is usually a lifelong condition and requires management. Typically, the disorder is treated with medication. A doctor may also suggest antipsychotics, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medication.

For treatment to work, it needs to be consistent. People with bipolar disorder may sometimes go off their medication once they start feeling better, so it’s important to check in and help them stay on track.

9. Help them find or encourage them to seek professional help

In addition to medication, psychotherapy can be effective for people with bipolar disorder. According to a study in 2014, therapy can help prevent mood episodes and tackle depressive symptoms, improving patients’ overall quality of life

When discussing professional help, do not push or force the topic. Start with a gentle approach. Remind them that mental health professionals such as therapists and counselors can provide support in ways friends and family may not be equipped to.

If they’re uncomfortable with or unable to attend in-person sessions, you can also suggest online therapy. Services like Emote provide affordable, on-the-go assistance for anyone in need. 

10. Offer to go to therapy or counseling with them

Getting professional help is a big step. You can further support someone with bipolar disorder by signing up for support groups together or by driving them to and from their appointments. 

Depending on the type of care, you may be able to join them for a therapy session. 

Get the Right Support with Emote Online Therapy

Though it is often a lifelong condition, bipolar disorder doesn’t have to be scary or isolating. Given the right kind of support, anyone with the disorder can live a full and happy life.

Here at Emote, we offer a helping hand.

Alongside one of our highly qualified therapists, you can learn how to best manage symptoms, cope with episodes, keep to a treatment plan, and more through confidential, digital therapy sessions.

Whether you’re a support person or have been recently diagnosed, our services can provide a safe space whenever you need it most. Be it through daily texts or weekly video chat appointments, your therapist is just a click away.

Cut out months-long waiting lists and sign up today for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about mental health, check out our blog or contact us.