Here are some of the top things not to say to someone with bipolar disorder:

“You sound a little down today.”

“You know he’s ‘bipolar,’ don’t you?”

“I thought you were taking your medication.”

“Don’t take everything so personally.”

“You seem a little overly enthusiastic.”

Harsh words can hurt anyone, but in mood disorders the effects are physical. They cause cortisol and other stress hormones to rise, and those hormones take a toll on brain health if they are always surging up and down. That’s why families that communicate with warmth and empathy and avoid heated conflicts have better outcomes and when their loved ones have mood disorders. Just how much better? Recovery rates are 4 to 8 times higher!

What to Say

Here are some simple phrases to get started:

“I love you, and I care.”

“You’re not alone in this.”

“I’m sorry you’re in so much pain.”

“I’m always willing to listen.”

“I’ll be your friend no matter what.”

“This will pass, and we can ride it out together.”

“You are important to me.”

“When all this is over, I’ll still be here.”

Read more in the full article in Bipolar Hope magazine, or learn simple ways to live more successfully with mood disorders in the family.