How To Help Someone Who Is in a Manic Episode

How to help someone who is a manic episode

Updated August 17, 2023

Some mood disorders, like bipolar disorder, involve the presence of periodic manic episodes. These are occurrences of abnormally high energy behavior, resulting in the individual living in a state of hyperactivity or an elevated mood. While this may sound harmless, it’s important to understand the risks associated with a manic episode and learn how you can help someone who’s experiencing one. About 2.8% of the U.S. population experiences bipolar disorder annually. 

Learn how to calm a manic episode so you can support your loved one through their mood disorder. If necessary, you may need to encourage them to seek professional help for their mental health. 

What Are the Signs of a Manic Episode?

A manic episode has distinctive signs that you can learn to recognize, alerting you to the fact that someone in your life is experiencing a period of mania. You might notice the individual being abnormally jumpy, being extremely upbeat, having high energy, becoming agitated more easily or exhibiting an unusual level of self-confidence. 

A person in an episode of mania might also make poor decisions that are out of character for them. This could look like engaging in risky sexual activity, going on shopping sprees or gambling. 

Additional symptoms of a manic episode that you can look for in a loved one include: 

  • Racing thoughts 
  • Increased talkativeness 
  • Not sleeping much or at all 
  • Easily distracted 

If someone in your life is showing three or more of these symptoms, they’re likely experiencing a manic episode. 

Process the Situation Rationally 

During manic episodes, you can face emotional challenges with your loved one because they might exhibit explosive behavior toward you or behave recklessly. Although these behaviors may affect you, it’s important to take a step back and process the situation rationally. 

Mental health conditions and mood disorders like bipolar that result in episodes of mania are beyond the individual’s control. As such, you shouldn’t take their behavior during a manic episode personally. Attempt to remain calm and consider ways you can help calm the situation. 

Educate Yourself on the Condition

To support someone having a manic episode, you need to learn as much about the condition as possible. Turn to credible online resources and addiction centers for information about bipolar disorder and managing episodes of mania. Educate yourself about available treatment options and support programs in your local area.  

Understand the Risks Involved 

Before attempting to calm someone who’s having a manic episode, it’s critical to understand that there are inherent risks involved. According to a study in the Medical Journal of Australia, mania presents risks of poor judgment, risk-taking and, sometimes, aggressive behavior. When you attempt to intervene, this aggression could potentially be directed at you. 

There’s also a chance individuals in a manic episode may be consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or abusing psychoactive substances, further altering their behavior. Additionally, there’s the potential for grandiose actions due to overconfidence, such as someone attempting to take over piloting an aircraft or driving a vehicle they’re not qualified to operate, potentially putting others in harm’s way. 

It can be challenging to know what to do when someone is manic. A person in a manic episode may be unpredictable, which is why it’s important to remain calm and logical and avoid approaching them about their behavior in a way that appears confrontational or judgmental. 

Learn How To Calm a Manic Episode 

Learning how to calm a bipolar person takes time and requires you to be consistent and patient. If your loved one’s behavior is reckless and puts them or someone else at risk, you may need to seek emergency help rather than attempting to calm the episode yourself.

However, during a typical episode of mania, there are a few things you can do to help. 

Provide Support

Offering your support to a loved one during a manic episode is one of the most important ways to help calm the situation and stabilize their behavior. You may need to help the individual determine what is and isn’t real if they’re experiencing psychosis. You can also work with them to put a plan in place for managing these mood changes before they occur. This could include ways to help them regulate their behavior or cutting them off from substances they can abuse (like drugs and alcohol). 

If you live with the person, try to help them reduce their stress levels and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Keeping up with a daily routine can also provide some stability to your loved one’s life. Spend time with them, regardless of their behavior, and don’t take any rude or insensitive comments personally during a manic episode. Limit the stimulation they’re exposed to by trying to create a soothing, calming environment. 

Keep Communication Channels Open

When learning how to deal with a manic person, communication is key. Your loved one may have questions for you about reality vs their perceived reality or regarding their actions. Be honest with them to build trust so they can turn to you as an anchor of truth during this time of uncertainty. 

If you want to support this person, make yourself available to them at all times when they’re having an episode. This doesn’t have to mean spending time with them 24/7. Letting them know they can call you if they need assistance making decisions at any time of the day or night is one way to keep communication open. 

People with mania often feel isolated during these episodes, so spending time with them and letting them know you’re available to talk can help them cope better. 

How to Help Someone Realize They Need Help

How many people know how to help someone in a manic episode realize they need help? This can be challenging, even for those who have researched mania and feel they understand this aspect of mental illness well.

The most crucial aspect of how to help someone in a manic episode realize they need help is initiating the discussion. Finding time to discuss your concerns is vital when they’re receptive to the conversation.

Be prepared with a list of resources for getting professional help for your loved one. These can include:

  • Treatment facilities specializing in treating mental health disorders
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • International Bipolar Foundation
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

What to Do When Someone Is Having a Manic Episode

One of the most challenging things about how to help someone in a manic episode is knowing what to do when someone is having a manic episode. If you don’t know how to deal with a manic person, this can be frightening. It’s scary for you and the person experiencing the manic episode.

Tips for How to Deal with a Manic Person

  • Stay calm. The person going through the manic episode will fare better without frantic looks and expressions of fear from you. The calmer you are, the easier it will be to proceed with how to help someone in a manic episode.
  • Don’t take their unkind remarks personally. When someone is experiencing a manic episode, they may say things that hurt, are untrue, or are out of the realm of possibility. Please recognize that this is their mania taking over. It’s not your loved one’s true feelings.
  • Show compassion and express empathy.
  • Try to distract or redirect their attention. This is especially important if the person having the manic episode wants to do something unsafe or risky. Suggest something else or initiate an activity where they could not immediately do what they asked.
  • Avoid arguments and conflict during this time. That will only exacerbate the situation and isn’t suitable for anyone. Do not try to challenge them, have intense discussions, or confront their beliefs. This could escalate their agitation.
  • Recognize that your loved one may resist or reject your efforts to help. If this happens, and the manic episode is severe enough that the individual may harm themselves or you, emergency hospitalization may be necessary. First, encourage them to get professional help independently because you are worried about them. Only if they refuse should you call for help.

Intervene If Necessary With Professional Help 

Sometimes, you may need additional help supporting a loved one who’s going through a manic episode. Professional services, like those from Restore, help people with mood disorders like bipolar disorder access various treatment options to manage their condition. 

If someone in your life is exhibiting signs of a manic episode, encourage them to explore professional treatments. Talk therapy in combination with medication has proven to be an effective option for many patients. 


If someone is at risk of harming themselves or others, it’s critical to get help quickly. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK or (800) SUICIDE or access the National Alliance of Mental Illness crisis line by texting NAMI to 741-741.