Calling A Bipolar HotlineCalling a bipolar hotline is a private, confidential, and free way to get help and information about bipolar disorder and the crippling effect it can have on your life.
Characterized by dramatic mood swings from severe depression to frenzied mania, bipolar disorder is a chronic, lifelong mental health disorder that can create difficulty in many areas of functioning. When severe, phases of depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, while manic periods can include risk-taking behavior, reckless decisions, impulsivity, and substance use.1–4
If you or a loved one needs help coping with bipolar disorder and managing the effects of depression or mania, call a bipolar crisis hotline for confidential assistance. If you are in danger of harming yourself or others, call 911 immediately.
Should I Call a Helpline?
The extreme highs and lows of bipolar disorder can leave you with unanswered questions and fears about the future. Whether you’re in the midst of a crisis or seeking to prevent another episode, the trained support specialists at a bipolar hotline can provide information about the disorder, connect you with potential treatment options, and provide guidance on how to reduce the impact of the illness on your daily functioning.
Many hotlines are available 24/7 to learn about how to encourage and support someone with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder helplines are completely anonymous, so you shouldn’t be afraid to bring up any questions or personal concerns. Many hotlines are available 24/7 for your convenience, and they are also a helpful resource for family members, friends, and loved ones to learn about how to encourage and support someone with bipolar disorder.
Some reasons to call a bipolar disorder hotline include:
- To gain more information about bipolar disorder, as symptoms can vary from person to person.
- To talk to someone who understands what you are going through.
- To learn about treatment options and resources.
- To get help finding other support services, including a counselor, social worker, therapist, psychiatrist, or treatment facility that can provide appropriate care.
- To access support services available to those who are caretakers, family members, spouses, coworkers, or friends of individuals with bipolar disorder.
What Questions Should I Ask?
Some people may be uncomfortable discussing their bipolar disorder due to the stigma surrounding mental health issues in society. Making a confidential call to a bipolar helpline can help you learn more about the illness and ask any questions in a safe, judgment-free zone.
Bipolar hotlines are a no-cost way to obtain reliable information about the disease and support resources, as well as crisis intervention if needed. If you are experiencing a severe manic or depressive episode, or just have general questions about bipolar disorder, you might consider calling a helpline.
Some common questions include:
- Do I really have bipolar disorder?
- How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?
- What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
- How is it treated?
- Will I have to take medication?
- If so, will I have to be on medication forever?
- What are the potential side effects of treatment drugs?
- How else can I manage symptoms?
- Will I have to go to a treatment program?
- How long does treatment last?
- How much does treatment cost? Will my health insurance cover it?
- What can I do if I’m having a bipolar episode?
- What if I have other mental health issues as well?
- Will I ever feel normal?
- How will bipolar disorder affect my ability to attend school, work, and socialize?
- What are the next steps I should take?
If you think that a family member, friend, or loved one may be bipolar, knowing more about the disorder can help you be as supportive as possible. Bipolar help hotlines can help you learn more about the condition and how to be most helpful to someone with bipolar disorder.
Questions you may have include:
- What should I do if I think someone needs help for bipolar disorder?
- What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
- What types of treatment are available?
- How can I help someone with bipolar disorder get treatment?
- Are there any resources available for family members of people with bipolar disorder?
- What should I do if I think my loved one may hurt himself or someone else?
- How can I speak to someone with bipolar disorder to show my support, without making him feel defensive or judged?
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Sometimes known as manic depression, bipolar disorder can appear at any age but is generally diagnosed in the late teens or early twenties.3 The term “bipolar disorder” actually represents a cluster of related mood disorders that, in general, are characterized by the lifetime existence of manic and depressive episodes of varying magnitudes. Bipolar disorder can be debilitating, especially if proper medical treatment is avoided. Individuals with bipolar disorder are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.4
Other complications due to bipolar disorder can include performance issues at work or school, legal problems, financial troubles, strained relationships, substance abuse, and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases due to risky sexual behavior.3,4
Nearly 75% of individuals with bipolar disorder also suffer from anxiety disorders.
Below are some common symptoms of the different phases of bipolar disorder:1–4
- Signs of mania: agitation, distractibility, euphoric or grandiose mood, taking on multiple projects at once, high levels of energy and activity, decreased need for sleep, irritability, psychosis, racing thoughts or flight of ideas, and reckless or risky behaviors.
- Signs of depression: change in eating or sleeping habits; trouble focusing, concentrating, or remembering; feeling overwhelmingly sad, hopeless, or empty; inability to enjoy activities that were once pleasurable or engaging; fatigue or low energy; unintentional change in weight; and thinking about or planning suicide.
People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk of other mental health issues. Common co-occurring illnesses include anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, psychosis, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other impulse control or conduct disorders.2–4 Nearly 75% of individuals with bipolar disorder also suffer from anxiety disorders, while more than half also struggle with substance use disorders.4
What Happens During Manic and Depressive Episodes?
Mania and depression involve much more than the normal ups and downs of mood that most people experience. When going through a manic episode, individuals may experience the following:1–4
- Elevated mood or euphoria.
- Engaging in multiple projects at the same time.
- High energy levels.
- Impaired judgment.
- Increased levels of activity.
- Psychosis, in some cases.
- Racing thoughts.
- Rapid rate of speech, or jumping from one topic to another quickly.
- Reckless or risk-taking behavior, such as stealing, shopping sprees, risky sexual behavior.
- Reduced need for sleep.
- Unpredictable behavior.
In contrast, episodes of depression may be characterized by the following symptoms:1–4
- Unintentional change in eating habits, such as eating more or less than usual.
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing.
- Feeling depressed, sad, empty, hopeless, or down.
- Lack of enjoyment in daily activities.
- Low energy levels.
- Reduced activity.
- Sleeping more or less than usual.
- Thoughts or plans of suicide or death.
- Unintended weight loss or gain.
Treating Bipolar Episodes and Symptoms
It can also be helpful to keep track of moods, sleep patterns, life events, and response to treatment methods to determine the best course of treatment.
Seeking professional treatment for bipolar disorder is essential in managing these symptoms. Bipolar disorder is treated with a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Medications that are commonly used include mood stabilizers to reduce the extreme highs and lows, antidepressants to manage symptoms of depression, and antipsychotics to treat psychotic symptoms, if necessary.1–3Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), education about the disease, and family-focused therapy, have been found effective when used in conjunction with medication.1,2 In severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may help reduce the symptoms.1,2
Making lifestyle changes can also reduce the intensity and impact of symptoms and help maximize the effectiveness of other forms of treatment. Simple changes that can make a big impact include eating a healthy diet, maintaining normal sleep cycles, avoiding stressors and triggers, and avoiding use of alcohol or other drugs. It can also be helpful to keep track of moods, sleep patterns, life events, and response to treatment methods to determine the best course of treatment.1–3
Free Hotline Numbers
If you or a loved one is showing signs of bipolar disorder, a hotline can help you through a crisis or find a treatment program where you can learn to manage symptoms and other mental health issues or substance abuse you may be experiencing.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (1-800-273-8255)
If you’re feeling hopeless and unable to carry on because of the severe impact bipolar symptoms have on your life, this national hotline is available 24/7 to provide confidential crisis intervention and emotional support at no cost. An online live chat option is also available if you don’t want to speak to a person over the phone.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
When you’re ready to get help, SAMHSA’s behavioral health treatment locator is an easy, confidential, and free way to find an appropriate program to meet their needs. Support is available in English and Spanish, and the 24-hour service can also help you find local support groups or community organizations in your area.
- Boys Town National Hotline: (1-800-448-3000)
Bipolar disorder can be especially challenging for adolescents. Boys Town is an excellent resource for teenagers to seek counseling and advice about a range of mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. Their free hotline offers support in English, Spanish, and many other languages, and their sister site Your Life Your Voice offers support offered via telephone, online chat, text, and e-mails, as well as informational articles and a forum for users to post their questions.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
The compassionate staff at NAMI are trained to help you manage a mental health crisis and understand the struggles people with bipolar disorder face. This free hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm, EST. Get answers to your questions and information on mental health treatment, education, support groups, vocational assistance, and legal assistance. NAMI is also an excellent resource for friends and loved ones of people struggling with mental health issues like bipolar disorder.
- Crisis Text Line: text “CONNECT” to 741741
This helpline provides support via text message during crisis situations and can also be used if you simply need to talk because you are feeling angry, frustrated, scared, or hurt because of a bipolar episode. Counselors provide confidential support around the clock, and the text message does not appear on your phone bill to maintain privacy.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2015). Bipolar disorder.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Bipolar disorder.
- Mayo Clinic. (2017). Bipolar disorder.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th) Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 123–132.