How To Interact With Someone Experiencing Bipolar Anger

By: Nadia Khan

Updated December 22, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT

When we think of bipolar disorder, we naturally focus our sympathies on the individual suffering from the illness and the difficulties they must face. It's not often we stop to think about all the challenges faced by his or her loved ones.

Are you in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder? Do you feel they are impossible to deal with sometimes, especially when they're experiencing bipolar anger? You may feel like you're losing some of yourself and wonder if the relationship is even worth it. But before you lose all hope, read on to find out what you can do to handle someone who experiences bipolar anger.

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First, let's take a look at the disorder itself.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes people to have extreme and unusual shifts in mood and behavior. This mania and depression mood swings can occur suddenly, with no warning and severely impact the individual's life. The mood swings can make it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks and affect the individual's energy and activity levels.
People who are living with bipolar disorder experience periods of time when they're "up." During these times they're full of energy and can give the appearance of being "too" happy and easily excitable. On the flip side, they also experience extreme "lows." These lows are known as depressive episodes. During these times, they feel hopeless, anxious, sad, and depressed.

Changing moods is a normal part of being human and something we experience every day as we go through the ups and downs of life. However, people with bipolar disorder experience these mood shifts in an extreme, unpredictable way. Their highs are very high, and their lows are very, very low. It's a common misconception that people with bipolar disorder have the ability to go from happy to sad at will. Some also mistakenly believe moods shift back and forth quickly. However, in most cases, there's usually a long period of high, or mania, which is followed by a long period of feeling low, or depressed. Along with anxiety, low self-esteem, irritability anxiety, and depression etc, anger is one of the symptoms commonly experienced during a depressive episode.

What Is Bipolar Anger?

Bipolar anger is not like normal anger. Anger, like happiness, joy, and sadness is a completely normal human emotion and reaction to life events. But bipolar anger differs from the normal level of anger commonly felt by most people. For someone with bipolar disorder, the smallest thing can set them off. It could be something as simple as a messy room in the house, the waitress getting the order wrong, or feeling like they're being treated unfairly at work. Little things that typically would not or should not lead to anger results in furious outbursts and meltdowns.

Being in a relationship or living with someone who experiences bipolar anger can be extremely difficult due to the volatile nature of their anger. If you're in a relationship with someone who experiences bipolar anger, it can be challenging. Remind yourself that it can't be easy for your loved one to be in this situation either. At times they may even recognize that their anger is unwarranted, yet find it impossible to control, especially during a depressive episode.

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The best thing you can do for your relationship and your own mental health is to learn how to recognize bipolar anger and develop the knowledge of how to best respond.

How Can Bipolar Anger Impact You?

When left unchecked, bipolar anger can lead to many negative side effects. The constant state of being out of control, angry, and irritable takes an enormous toll on everyone. Left unchecked, bipolar anger can cause people to lose their most important relationships, including their spouse, children, and parents. It can also cost them professionally if they're unable to keep themselves in check at work.

If you're in a relationship with someone who has bipolar anger, you need to understand the disorder so you can deal with it proactively. It's also important to look out for yourself, as the stress of being in a difficult relationship can lead you to unconsciously adopt some dangerous coping mechanisms such as the following:

Alcohol Abuse. When a situation seems out of control or the stress overwhelming, some people are tempted to turn to alcohol. It usually starts small, like needing a glass of wine to unwind at the end of a particularly trying day. There's nothing wrong with a glass of wine, but if it's being used to alleviate the stress from your relationship, it can be dangerous. The alcohol will not improve your situation, and it can quickly spiral out of control as you find yourself increasingly depending on alcohol to get through the day.

Disconnecting. Most people can only put up with someone's uncontrolled anger for so long before they have to disconnect. If you suddenly find yourself withdrawing from the loved one with bipolar disorder and isolating yourself from others, you need to get help. While taking some space from your partner might be a good idea for a brief moment, especially when they're angry, it's not a permanent solution.

Overspending. Spending money to cheer yourself up may make you feel better in the moment, but living beyond your means will only lead to more problems and stress for both you and your partner. There is nothing you can buy that will address the negative feelings and confusion you're experiencing.

Are You In A Relationship With Someone Who Has Bipolar Disorder?
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Dealing with Abuse. In certain cases, it's possible for the relationship to turn abusive or controlling. The abuse you experience could be verbal, physical, or emotional. Verbal abuse consists of behavior like name calling and belittling. Emotional abuse is when the person tries to control you and blames you for their behavior. When arguments turn physical, such as hitting, kicking, punching etc. the abuse is physical. If your partner is abusing you, you may find yourself justifying the behavior or excusing it as a result of his or her illness. By doing so, you're only hurting yourself. Being mentally ill does not give someone the right to abuse you.

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, you need to seek help immediately. If the person is physically abusing you, it's important to remove yourself from the situation at once. If the abuse is verbal or emotional, and you don't want to give up on the relationship, consider couples counseling and therapy. Remember, no form of abuse is acceptable.

Tips on Dealing With Someone with Bipolar Anger

In order for you to stay happy in your relationship, and to avoid any of the pitfalls mentioned above, it's a good idea to practice some coping skills. As you begin to have a better understanding of the illness, you'll come to anticipate the anger, and over time know how to react. Some strategies for dealing with bipolar anger in your partner or spouse are:

  • Stand firm and don't let the anger rattle you or defeat you. Instead consider couples therapy to learn how to communicate properly.
  • Engage with your partner in a positive and encouraging manner.
  • Encourage your partner to seek help through therapy and anger management.
  • Make sure they take their medication. One of the mistakes most bipolar disorder patients make is they stop taking their medication as soon as they start to feel better. As a loved one or partner, ensure they keep taking their medications, no matter what.
  • Whenever possible, avoid situations that might trigger bipolar anger.
  • Take support and help from friends, family, and your community. It's always easier to go through difficult experiences when you can share them with someone and lean on them for support. If you have nobody like that in your life, consider speaking to a mental health professional, either in person or online.
  • Practice self-care because it's important not to allow your partner's problems to pull you down and affect your own mental and physical wellbeing. Make sure you are eating right, getting the rest you need, exercising, and participating in activities you enjoy. Don't feel bad or guilty for taking some time for yourself, as sacrificing your enjoyment and health will not help your partner.


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  • Finally, even though it can be difficult to remember at times, it's important to understand your partner is not upset at you. The anger is a symptom of an illness beyond their control.

Let BetterHelp Be There for You

Whether you're living through a relationship with someone who has bipolar anger or you are the one whose illness is negatively impacting your relationship, help is always there. You are not alone in your struggles. For every individual affected by bipolar disorder there's a partner, spouse, or loved one who is struggling with the same hardships as you.

Taking the time to read this article is a first step to acknowledging there may be a problem, and you might need help. Bipolar disorder is challenging, and it can be extremely taxing on the afflicted and the people around them. It's important to seek professional help. Licensed therapists at BetterHelp can counsel you through your difficulties, without you ever having to step foot into an office. It may feel you'll never see the light at the end of the tunnel, but know you're not alone. All you need is to take the first step toward help, as so many others have. Support groups and group counseling is also worth considering. Hearing about similar experiences may make you feel less alone, and will help you decide is BetterHelp is something you'll want to try.

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"In the midst of a complex and highly stressful and frightening time in my life, Erika helped me take a moment to breathe and give order to the chaos. She understood my concerns and knew how to help me prioritize each situation every step of the way. Easy to talk to, caring, and positive. The perfect match for me and my situation."

Concluding Thoughts

Your partner may blame you for their anger, but it's important to understand you're not responsible. Bipolar disorder can be damaging for everyone involved when not properly managed. It's also an illness without a permanent cure, so you cannot "fix" them. But you can encourage them to get the help they need, and even attend counseling sessions with them.

Although bipolar disorder can never be cured, it can be treated and managed with proper care, dedication, and commitment. Treatment options include counseling, medication, self-care, and anger management. Couples counseling is especially recommended when dealing with bipolar anger and relationship hurdles. Every relationship comes with its own set of struggles and challenges, and as long as both people stay committed, respect each other, work at the relationship and the issues, there is no reason why you can't enjoy a happy, successful partnership. Take the first step today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is bipolar rage?

Bipolar rage can happen when someone has a bipolar diagnosis. It's normal for everyone to get upset from time to time. Bipolar rage is a symptom of bipolar disorder. This combination of anger and rage can be triggered by even the smallest things in a bipolar person's life.

How do you calm down a bipolar person?

Try to stay calm and realize that they are coping with anger in the only way they understand. People with bipolar disorder are prone to bouts of irritability and anger. This is especially the case when they aren't following a psychotherapy treatment plan or taking medications as prescribed.

Can someone with bipolar love?

People who live with bipolar disorders can fall in love and have intimate relationships. It's critical for people living with bipolar disorder who are also in intimate relationships to learn skills for managing bipolar disorder and coping with anger. Medical professionals often recommend a combination of medication and psychotherapy to treat bipolar disorder.

What should you not say to a bipolar person?

Remember that bipolar irritability and anger are the results of mental illness and not a choice. Bipolar disorder and anger often go hand-in-hand. Learn how to use positive language when talking with someone who has bipolar disorder.

How do you talk to a bipolar person?

Talk to a bipolar person the same way you would anyone else. Treat them with courtesy and respect. People with bipolar disorder can carry on good conversations as well as people without bipolar disorder. Use positive language when speaking with someone with bipolar disorder.

What triggers a bipolar episode?

There are many environmental factors that can trigger an episode of bipolar disorder. When someone who has the disorder becomes overwhelmed, stressed, or afraid they're more likely to have an episode. A person with bipolar disorder can benefit from a calm and stable environment.

Can a bipolar person live a normal life?

With a combination of support systems that include family, friends, and medical care providers, someone living with bipolar disorder can have a normal life. It's important to understand and control the anger that's associated with bipolar disorder. Talk to a therapist about coping strategies and skills for living successfully with bipolar disorder.

How do you get a bipolar person to seek help?

Speak honestly when you're encouraging someone with bipolar disorder to get help. Explain the pros and cons of getting support from a medical provider and therapist. Make sure the person with bipolar disorder understands they have a medical condition. Just like a physical condition, their diagnosis requires medication and psychotherapy treatment. Getting psychotherapy and medical help are the best ways to keep someone with bipolar disorder from spinning out of control.

Does Bipolar Disorder cause aggression?

The association between mental health, mental illness, and violence are most of the time rigged with controversy. While there continue to increase unfounded stigmatization and discrimination against individuals with mental illness based on the popular notion that psychiatric patients are dangerous people, there is also a legitimate need for psychiatrists to identify, recognize and manage the potential risk of violence innate in vulnerable patients with mental illness. There is a need for a study to evaluate what is responsible for violence and in what ways it is exhibited among individuals with mental illness for psychiatrists to be able to determine as accurately as possible which specific individuals with mental illness that are susceptible to violence and methods by which this can be adequately managed to their specific needs.

It has been reported that most violent behaviors and susceptibility to psychiatric disorders and mental illness that are exhibited in adulthood are as a result of developmental aberrations and traumatic stress that a person was subjected to during childhood. In the same vein, Bipolar disorder has been associated with traumatic stress during childhood and to the vulnerability for the practice of violence.

A history of childhood traumatic stress has been associated with increased vulnerability to multiple mental illnesses and mental health conditions, including substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse, mood disorders, and personality disorders. The prognosis and course of substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse, mood disorders, and bipolar disorder are worse when there is a history of trauma. It is also reported that a history of trauma is associated with earlier onset of substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse and bipolar disorder; faster cycling; increased rates of suicide; and more comorbidity, including anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 2.8% of United States adults had bipolar disorder in the previous year. Equally, an estimated 4.4% of United States adults experienced bipolar disorder at some time in their lives. There are several pathways by which childhood trauma could lead to the development of the bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions. Anyone or a combination of these pathways could be operational in the development of the bipolar disorder in individuals who have experienced childhood trauma. Thus, either the traumatic stress itself or the factors that lead to trauma-or both-could affect the development and course of bipolar disorder.

Aggression is not a typical symptom of bipolar disorder but people with substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse and bipolar disorder may at times display aggression due to mood shift which is typical to individuals with bipolar disorder. A high, low, and mixed mood episode is a feature of bipolar disorder. Irritability and aggression are common features of people with bipolar disorders. A lot of individuals with substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse and bipolar disorders exhibit aggression and this may be out of their normal way of behaving. A study opines that people with substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse, drug overdose, etc. and bipolar disorder may display aggression than others especially during the acute phase of their condition.

It is, however, important to note that not all with substance use disorders e.g. substance abuse and bipolar disorder experiences irritability, some may not show any signs of aggression at all while other display mild aggression. Each mood swings gave differing effects on different individuals with mental health conditions and research has suggested that bipolar symptoms may exist on a spectrum. An individual’s temperament and personality may make the person prone to irritability, aggression and affect the primary symptoms of the mental health conditions

During high periods of manic episodes, an individual with bipolar disorder may be excessively happy, very energetic, and feel very confident. They may also feel like their thoughts are coming at a rapid pace, flipping from one idea or task to another, easily agitated, angered which may make them prone to aggression. Improperly managed irritability often leads to aggression, but may not be a major disruption of mental health since anger is a natural emotion that every experience and possess the right to express.

What is bipolar rage?

According to Bipolar UK, Bipolar rage is an impulsive, intense, erratic, and explosive emotion. It is an excessive display of anger for no logical reason. This rage which is as a result of the existing borderline personality can range from mild to severe, moderate to wild, and often times there are no identifiable triggers or triggers that most of the time are not reasonable or logical enough to warrant such an intense emotion.

What a bipolar age is remains one of the most frequently asked questions? It can last for several days during the manic episodes and irritated states of depression. As mood swings during a manic phase, emotions can also swing from irritability to euphoria to depression just within less than half an hour.

How do you deal with bipolar rage?

One of the most frequently asked questions is how can one deal with bipolar age? To answer this, it is important to note that getting professional health services from a doctor or therapist is of utmost necessity. Bipolar rage is a serious mental health condition and needs appropriate intervention. It is a chronic mental health condition and needs continuous management. To be able to improve symptoms and stabilize moods, there is a need for effective continuous management, peer support, family support system, and psychotherapies e.g. cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

To get an optimum outcome, it is advisable to start with a residential stay for treatment purposes. This will give you the ability to focus on provided health services, treatment, and learning strategies which will be quite used upon exit from the residential facility.

Identify the triggers: Though it may seem that your expression of anger is illogical and unreasonable, there is always a salient cause for every action. Some certain things such as substance abuse or misuse, drug abuse, and overdose characteristics of substance use disorder could trigger this particular emotion, and if you can appropriately identify this factor resulting in your outburst, you can effectively learn to control them. This can also be done with the help of a support system involving support groups which include family members, friends, and colleagues. This should be medically reviewed as the treatment program evolves.

  • Reduce your stress: Stress is one of the triggering factors at least some of the time. Hence, you should try to reduce every stressful event which is very tasking e.g. migration, live adjustments, job changing, etc. Also, this should be medically reviewed as the treatment program You can consider the help of a support system involving support groups which include family members, friends, and colleagues. In cases of things that cannot be changed, you can learn coping strategies, meditation, exercises, diversional therapies which will help you cope with the stress and improve your mental health.
  • Learn and practice immediate calming techniques: As you become began to take note of the triggers and distressing activities, you will be able to sense the anger culminating. You can try different techniques until you find the most suited for you such as deep breathing, calming mantras, visualizations, taking time out, listening to music, a quick walk, exercises, etc. To ensure effectiveness, it is safe to be monitored with the help of a support system involving support groups which include family members, friends, and colleagues, and this step should be medically reviewed as the treatment program
  • Discuss with your psychiatrist about medication: For the long-term management of the bipolar disorder, medically reviewed medication is very important. Some medications may be much effective than the other due to individual variations. Sometimes a particular medication might become ineffective and the need to change and use an effective one arises. To be able to do it, you will need your prescription to be medically reviewed by the psychiatrist and an appropriate update included in the treatment program.
  • Increase therapy sessions: Though medication is quite important, therapy sessions are equally important. it is simply one of the ways of managing a bipolar disorder using bipolar disorder medically reviewed treatment plan. If the mood swing and alternating feeling is becoming very dysfunctional and affecting your normal activity, you can benefit from additional therapy. You can also ensure compliance by seeking the help of a support system involving support groups which include family members, friends, and colleagues.

Behavioral therapies will improve your ability to control your emotional expression and increasing your control. Improvement will be medically reviewed by the psychiatrist and necessary changes will be implemented in the treatment program. 

Can a bipolar person truly love?

One of the most frequently asked questions is can a bipolar person truly love. According to Healthline media, shifts in mood associated with bipolar disorder can cause extreme changes in behavior. There is a constant mood swings across the poles, an energetic mood, hyperactivity, inability to sleep during mania and tiredness, sadness, withdrawal from social activity during the depression phase. At this phase, there is a need to initiate the depressive disorder treatment module. These major shifts can make socialization and communication very difficult. Though bipolar disorder symptoms can be effectively managed with medication and therapies, it may still affect a romantic relationship.

Just like every other individual with emotion and the innate ability to love and hate, an individual with bipolar disorder can also express this emotion. Sometimes the emotion comes in between the honest expression of vital information to the other partner and leaves you feeling dejected. In the case of a relationship where one is with bipolar disorder, the fear of losing a loved one may prevent the person from telling the other partner.

What should you not say to someone with bipolar?

For a healthy relationship to be nurtured, it is very important for a person to very mindful of what they say, the words they use, and how they say it. One of the most frequently asked questions is what should not be said to a bipolar. In reality, living with people with bipolar disorder is quite challenging for the victims as well as the people living around them but this calls to increase peer support and motivations from family members. Below are a few of the things you should avoid when talking to someone with bipolar disorder:

  • Stop acting like a fool: It is quite true that some behaviors of people with substance use disordersg. substance abuse and bipolar disorder are quite inconsiderate, it is however quite unwise to maltreat them with words when you are quite aware of the mental health condition and their mentally ill state. Family members and neighbors are advised to be supportive and therapeutic in their communication. They should avoid saying things that might aggravate the mental health condition and motivate relapse and reoccurrence.
  • You sound a little depressed today: It is often advised to avoid triggers and factors that might cause a relapse. A word like this is quite hurtful to a person with substance use disordersg. substance abuse and bipolar disorder because it reminds him of his state and the symptoms he is battling with. People with mental illness especially those with insight are quite aware of their symptoms and wouldn’t want their symptoms to be constantly evaluated or said to their faces without true compassion.
  • I thought you were taking your medication: To properly manage effectively a mental health condition such as substance abuse and bipolar disorder, there is a need for considerable support and motivation. Words like this encourage medication and drug overdose. Since it is a chronic mental illness, adhering to a particular medication may be quite challenging since the management is a continuous one. Hence, discouraging words rather than motivating words should be clearly avoided for individuals with chronic mental illness.
  • You know he is a bipolar right?

Comparing a person to the mental illness he is suffering from is oftentimes very destructive. It is sheer injustice to look at a person from the view of his mental illness diagnosis, but unfortunately, this often happens. A person with substance use disorder e.g. substance abuse or bipolar disorder should not be defined by his mental illness.

You are too smart to be bipolar: Words like this are demeaning and diminishing. It suggests the poor state of an individual, being ridiculed to be having such a mental health condition. It is cruel to diminish the ability of the person with mental illness; it is rather better to psychologically motivate to be able to improve and get better.

  • You are lazy and don’t have a life anymore: It is unhealthy to try to put a person with bipolar disorder under unnecessary pressure and stress. Recovery through essential takes time and the role you play as a supporting agent is very important. You can help by using constructive words that motivate recovery rather than trying to push the vulnerable individual with a mental illness beyond the necessary length.
  • You are easily infuriated: Words like this are very discouraging to someone who is trying to control his anger and expression of emotion. You should try to use constructive words that will motivate coping and adaptability.
  • We use to have high hopes for you: Saying things like this is mostly derogatory. As human beings, the more you acknowledge our ability, the more we want to deliver.
  • You seem a little overly enthusiastic: A person with bipolar disorder is a person and has every right or be enthusiastic. Demeaning words that diminish a person because of the illness should be avoided. It is often safe to adhere to medical advice by creating an unrestrictive psychological environment for a person with bipolar disorder.
  • Don’t take everything so personal: It is bad to remind a person with bipolar disorder of his inability to control his anger. It frustrates attempts at coping and effort to try to cope.

Can a bipolar person live without medication?

No one wants bipolar or any mental health condition and certainly no one wants to take one or more psychiatric medication. Due to the reason that you have become informed by listening to health news, you daily use your medication as a daily routine of the mental illness becoming a part of your lifestyle of which you now dislike.

Majorly, because of this adherence of yours, there are little or no more symptoms. Your mood is now in good condition and your overall functioning is now good, you start to see a reason why you should stop using the medication. Essentially, to stop using your medication, it is medically advised that you communicate with your psychiatrist and carry him along. Necessary modification through medically reviewed updates which will be included in the treatment program will be given by the attending psychiatrist. It is obvious that living without medications is preferable to a drug overdose but it is medically advised you inform your psychiatrist of your improvement and the reasons why you think you can get better without the help of the medications.

Can a person with bipolar work?

The mood swings that are typical of people with bipolar disorder can create a unique set of challenges and make personal and social life quite tasking. According to Healthline media, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions have the potential to make it difficult for a person to find a job or to function at work especially if the symptoms do affect daily activities.

There are many challenges associated with bipolar disordered people getting and keeping a job but at the same time securing a job may be quite helpful to someone with bipolar disorder. Work can give the person a sense of organization, increase confidence, and serve as a form of depressive disorder treatment during the depression phase, empowering and enhancing the overall mood. Working together with the psychiatrist and with medically reviewed updates in the treatment program, a bipolar can get informed on the right job to go for.

There is no particular job for everyone, each individual gets to choose according to what he prefers. For a person with a bipolar disorder, securing a job in a serene environment, quiet and relaxed workspace can help them to maintain regular schedules which will help their overall functioning. A part-time job with a conducive schedule can be helpful to someone with bipolar disorder. It can also be helpful to work during the day. Overnight works or jobs with night duties may not be very conducive for a person with bipolar disorder or substance abuse. Getting a night of good sleep is very important as well as maintaining a normal sleep-wake pattern. Getting the right job can be easily assessed by engaging the help of a support system involving support groups which include family members, friends, and colleagues.

Can a person with bipolar disorder live a normal life?

When you first get diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it may seem quite impossible to live or have a better life with bipolar disorder. You can choose to live a better life if you want. If you would like to live a better life with bipolar disorder, you can try and learn these simple techniques with the available help of support systems involving support groups which include family members, friends, and colleagues.

Don’t let your disorder define you

Bipolar is not an adjective; it does not define you. It is merely something you have, just like you have high blood pressure. People with cancer do not say, “I am cancerous”, rather they say, “I have cancer”. Whether you realize it or not, that language affects you. What you say has a lot of impact on you. Don’t be defined by your mental health condition, but try to define your condition.

Learn from your experience

The more experience someone has with something, the better they usually are at dealing with it. Treat every experience you have as a learning one. If you have made a lot of progress and then have an episode, don’t think of it as taking a step back. Try and think of it as a nudge forward.

Never compare yourself to others

 Stop comparing yourself with another. Everybody has their ordeals to deal with. Be positive with your evaluations. You are strong where another is weak, you are better where another is poor. So don’t compare yourself to another, nobody is like you.


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