Helping friends and family recognize they may have a bipolar disorder starts with knowing the symptoms you will see. It is easy to confuse bipolar disorders with depression, because they have some of the similar symptoms. However the difference is the mania 'highs' that are associated with bipolar disorders. Then it is important to have someone who suspects they may have a bipolar disorder to seek professional medical help. Signs of the person who has bipolar disorder will include symptoms of depression and a prolonged sense of sadness or 'feeling down' but they will also include:
Visible displays of high energy, that are opposite to their intense feelings of sadness when they are in their depression mode. They may show intense irritability, combined with anger.
They may feel thay have a decreased need for sleep
Often times they display an increased sense of self-importance, which may be unwarranted
They may struggles concentrating and making good judgments; which could lead to reckless and dangerous behavior.
If you feel you have a friend or or family members displaying these symptoms discuss with them that they should talk to their doctor. This may help enable them to enjoy life, work and prevent misfortunes from happening that could be avoided.
Get a medical diagnosis from a professional who can diagnose one of several different types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when the individual has had episodes of the manic behaviors without the depression symptoms; Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed when periods of depression are associated with the periods of hypomania. Hypomania episodes are not as extreme as full mania episodes. Additional and more specific diagnoses will result based on the number and frequency of the episodes and can include 'rapid cycling bipolar disorder' or 'cyclothymia'.
Be patient with someone who you suspect may have a bipolar disorder that is undiagnosed and therefore not being treated properly. They need your support, so they eventually can get the help they need.