Addiction Recovery - Dual Diagnosis

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: The Art of Effective Communication

What is arguing with a bipolar person like? Knowing how to be respectful and mindful of their condition is important. Learn more in our blog.

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: Understanding, Boundaries, & More

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

November 7, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Engaging in conversations with individuals who have bipolar disorder can be challenging. Bipolar disorder, a complex mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings, can significantly impact how a person communicates and handles conflicts.

When arguments arise, the key is to approach them with empathy, understanding, and effective communication techniques to maintain healthy relationships and facilitate productive discussions.

In this comprehensive blog, we delve deep into the world of effective communication when engaging in arguments with a bipolar person. We understand that it's not always easy, but by gaining insight into bipolar disorder and developing practical strategies, you can navigate these discussions more successfully and nurture stronger connections with your loved ones.

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Before diving into the intricacies of communicating with someone who has bipolar disorder, it is essential to understand what the condition entails. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by intense and unpredictable mood shifts between extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression).

During a manic episode, individuals may experience heightened energy levels, decreased need for sleep, impulsivity, racing thoughts, and inflated self-esteem. On the other hand, during a depressive episode, people with bipolar disorder may feel hopeless, lack motivation, have trouble concentrating, and experience changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

These mood swings can significantly impact an individual's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, including their communication style. Therefore, understanding the symptoms and triggers of bipolar disorder is crucial in effectively communicating with someone who has this condition.

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: How to Communicate When Arguing with a Bipolar Person

It takes time, empathy, and a calculated approach to effectively communicate with a bipolar person during an argument so that both parties feel heard and respected. Here are some helpful pointers for handling these challenging conversations:

Educate Yourself About Bipolar Disorder

Learn all you can about bipolar disorder to start. Understand the different types, symptoms, and nature of mood swings. Your ability to empathize with the person and observe situations in which their conduct is affected by their condition will be enhanced by this understanding.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Timing is important. Try to have meaningful conversations with someone while they are composed or feeling good. Avoid beginning conflicts when the person with bipolar disorder says hurtful things. This could, in turn, make you lose your cool too.

Remain Calm and Patient

Even if the discussion gets hot, keep your emotions under check and remain composed. You can help the situation calm by maintaining your cool because bipolar people often have strong reactions to stress.

Listen Actively

Be sure to pay close attention to what they are saying. Stay out of their way and give them space to speak their minds. They simply need to be heard from time to time.

Use "I" Statements

Use "I" expressions to personalize your arguments to prevent appearing aggressive. Say, "I feel hurt when..." rather than "You always..." Using this strategy can lessen defensiveness.

Offer Validation

Even if you disagree with the person's viewpoint, acknowledge their sentiments. Ensure they feel understood by stating, "I understand that you're feeling this way."

Avoid Making Assumptions

Don't assume that every action or statement they make is caused by their bipolar disorder. Respect their thoughts and experiences just like you would any other person.

Keep It Clear and Simple

Try to avoid making complex arguments since they might be confusing. Instead, make sure your ideas are clear and simple. Avoid straying off-topic.

Use Nonverbal Communication

Body language is compelling. Maintaining a calm and steady speech tone, using open and non-threatening gestures, and maintaining eye contact are all helpful.

Know When to Take a Break

Suggesting a break is fine if the conversation is becoming too heated or fruitless. This might provide both sides some breathing room and time to collect their thoughts before continuing the talk.

Seek Professional Help

If conflicts with a loved one who has bipolar disorder often worsen or become out of control, think about getting support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in bipolar disorder. They can offer effective guidance and good communication strategies.

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Understanding the signs of bipolar disorder can help identify the condition and seek appropriate support or treatment. The following are some typical characteristics of a bipolar person:

Extreme Mood Swings

Mania and depression episodes that are different from one another define bipolar disorder. Look for periods of unusually high energy and euphoria (mania), followed by periods of deep sadness and hopelessness (depression).

Having Trouble Concentrating

Manic episodes can cause a person to become easily distracted, experience racing thoughts, and have trouble focusing on one thing for a prolonged period.

Enhanced Energy

People frequently have an overabundance of energy during manic stages, which might result in less need for sleep and excessive activities.


Irritability is a symptom of both manic and depressive periods. A person with bipolar disorder may have frequent irritability, anger, or frustration.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Keep an eye out for notable sleep changes, such as excessive sleeping or sleeplessness during manic or depressed periods.

Fluctuating Self-Esteem

Those with bipolar disorder may have high levels of confidence and self-worth during manic periods but low levels of self-esteem during depressed episodes.

Impulsive Behavior

Extreme spending, reckless driving, or substance addiction are just a few examples of impulsive decisions, risky behavior, and bad judgment that can result from manic phases.

Social Withdrawal

A person with bipolar disorder may withdraw from social situations, isolate oneself, and lose interest in previously enjoyed activities during depressed periods.

Changes in Weight and Appetite

During manic and depressive phases, one's weight and appetite can change dramatically. Some people may feel hungrier and more put on weight, while others may lose their appetite and gain weight.

Physical Signs

Physical symptoms, including headaches, aches, and pains, are common in people with bipolar disorder and might be linked to mood swings.

Suicidal Thoughts

Bipolar disorder individuals may experience suicidal or self-destructive thoughts during severe depression episodes. These thoughts should be taken seriously, and professional help should be immediately sought if observed.

Cyclic Patterns

Bipolar disorder often displays cyclical patterns, with episodes of mania or hypomania followed by depressed ones. The duration and extent of these patterns can change.

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Arguing With a Bipolar Person: What is a Bipolar Person Like?

A person with bipolar disorder experiences dramatic mood swings, cycling between two main states: manic or hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes. During manic phases, they often display heightened energy, creativity, and enthusiasm. They might seem unusually confident and may engage in impulsive or risky behaviors, such as excessive spending or reckless activities.

In contrast, depressive episodes bring profound sadness, fatigue, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. Social withdrawal, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and even thoughts of self-harm or suicide may occur.

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: How to Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Supporting someone with bipolar disorder requires understanding the condition and providing compassionate assistance. Education is key, so learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder to offer informed support. Encourage them to seek professional help and consistently follow their treatment plan, which may involve medication and therapy.

Listening actively and without judgment when they want to talk can be immensely helpful. Recognize signs of mood swings and encourage self-care, including maintaining a healthy lifestyle and stress management techniques.

Establishing boundaries, managing stress, and knowing when to seek crisis intervention are essential support aspects. Building a strong support network and considering professional help can help you better assist your loved one.

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: How to Live with a Bipolar Person

Living with a bipolar loved one requires patience, understanding, and a structured approach. Create a stable daily routine that includes regular sleep, meals, and exercise, as this can help stabilize their mood. Maintain open and respectful communication, allowing them to express their feelings without judgment.

Encourage medication adherence, and consider accompanying them to medical and therapy appointments if they are comfortable with it. Stay vigilant for signs of mood swings and intervene when necessary, but also respect their autonomy and decision-making.

Prioritize your well-being by building a support network and seeking professional help. Balancing your support for them with self-care is crucial for creating a harmonious living environment.

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Arguing With a Bipolar Person: Can a Bipolar Person Live a Normal Life?

Yes, individuals with bipolar disorder can lead fulfilling and "normal" lives with the right treatment and support. Bipolar disorder is manageable, and many people can achieve stability and pursue their goals. Effective treatment often includes medication to stabilize mood swings and therapy to develop coping strategies and emotional regulation skills.

By adhering to their treatment plan, individuals with bipolar disorder can experience fewer and less severe mood episodes. Maintaining a stable daily routine, incorporating healthy lifestyle choices, and practicing stress management techniques are also essential to managing the condition.

Support from a strong network of family, friends, and support groups can provide emotional assistance and understanding during challenging times. Furthermore, recognizing early warning signs and seeking timely intervention can prevent the escalation of mood episodes.

Arguing With a Bipolar Person: How to Deal with Someone Who is Bipolar and Angry?

Handling someone with bipolar disorder who's angry can be challenging, mainly because their anger might be stronger due to the mood swings caused by the disorder. First, when they're angry, you must stay calm. If you maintain your composure even while they become furious, it can help in settling the situation.

Understand the causes of their anger. Perhaps stress or a lack of sleep is at fault. If you can identify these triggers, you can try to avoid them or devise strategies to reduce the probability of them happening. It's sometimes better to give them some space when they're upset. Allow them to cool down on their own so they may talk to you when ready.

Listen when they're ready to speak. Without interrupting, let them speak what is on their mind. Show them that you are aware of their emotions. Try to avoid seeming like you're harassing them when you react. 

You can also set some rules about what's okay and what's not during arguments when everyone is calm. Everyone is aware of the boundaries in this way. Avoid arguing or discussing with them while they're upset. Typically, it is useless. Discussing the issue should wait till conditions are more peaceful.

Remind them that you are there to help them manage their bipolar disorder. Encourage them to stick to their treatment plan and take their medication if they have any. Also, help them build a support network. Friends, family, and support groups can greatly help during tough times.

Bipolar Disorder is Treatable. Reach Out to The Forge Recovery Center

Bipolar disorder can be dangerous if left untreated. It isolates people, can cause self-injury, and sometimes leads them into dangerous situations

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, it is essential to seek professional help. Bipolar disorder is treatable and manageable with a combination of therapy, medication, and support from loved ones.

The Forge Recovery Center offers comprehensive treatment programs for individuals battling bipolar disorder. Our team of experienced professionals provides personalized care and evidence-based treatments to help individuals achieve long-term recovery.

The Forge Recovery Center goes the extra mile by providing uncompromising 24/7 medical support to ensure that our clients’ safety and well-being are continuously upheld during their stay. However, our commitment to our clients extends far beyond treatment; it creates a nurturing, communal atmosphere where families are wholeheartedly embraced, and personal devices are welcomed.

Our belief in the transformative power of experiences sets The Forge Recovery Center apart. We thoughtfully curate regular outings and adventures to facilitate authentic connections among clients, foster lasting sobriety, and nurture a lasting sense of joy. Even after completing the program, our support continues through ongoing assistance for alumni, ensuring they can flourish in their courageous recovery journey.

The Forge Recovery Center's environment is carefully developed to ensure utmost comfort and security, promoting recovery, the constant cultivation of bonds, and a renewed sense of purpose. From the moment our clients step through our doors, they are warmly welcomed into a supportive community dedicated to their recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about our effective, evidence-based treatment for bipolar disorder (including dedicated mental health housing), reach out to The Forge Recovery Center today.

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