Helpful Actions

Helpful Actions

Become very clear on what depression or bipolar disorder is. 

Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of depression and elation so that you are better placed to recognise a depressive episode or an elated episode.

Become aware of the differences between feelings, thoughts, beliefs and actions, and how they can impact on each other.

The basic principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) illustrate how our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions can all impact our mood. An example that you might relate to is as follows:

You are in a shop waiting your turn to pay when someone you know comes to stand behind you. Immediately you anticipate her asking about the person you are concerned about and how they are. Notice how thoughts you may have such as ‘Oh no, here we go again’; ‘I know she is just being kind but I wish she didn’t ask’, or ‘I don’t want her to know how he is’ trigger you to feel differently than you had a few moments before. You may feel under pressure, anxious and/or annoyed. You may believe that you have not done enough, anticipate that the other person is judging you and you may react by being curt and changing the subject very quickly. Or you might believe that you have to answer all questions and may give a detailed explanation about the situation, while all the time wishing that you could end this conversation very quickly. However you may believe that this person genuinely cares about you, you may feel relieved, think ‘Oh it is good to have friends’ and you may suggest that you both meet for a coffee to catch up.

The basis of CBT is that it is not the event, but the meaning of the event that is important.

Aware provides two Life Skills programmes, free of charge, which help participants understand the link between thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviour. These programmes can be helpful for you by enabling you to understand a little bit better what may be going on for the person you care about, as well as helping you learn ways to manage the situation and its impact.When we are constantly in the ‘giving support’ mode it can be difficult to ask for and actually take support. So many of us tend to bottle up our own feelings and put on a ‘brave face’. There is a very real difference between talking to someone about a situation with someone we care about in a ‘gossipy’ way, and talking to someone we trust about the challenges we experience in caring for someone else.

In the case of bipolar disorder it can be helpful for the person to have a ‘spotter’. 

A spotter is someone who can ‘spot’ when the person may be becoming unwell and can let them know. It can be difficult for the person themselves to be aware of the mood changes involved – particularly in periods of elation. It is important to discuss this with the person when they are well and to agree a simple plan.

Practice actions that are helpful.

These might include:

Suggest that they do more things that are helpful such as:

Two of the best ways you can help someone is to:

This might seem to you to be selfish but it could well give the person you are concerned about space to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. If you are busy doing things to care for yourself, the other person may feel less under pressure and may follow your example.


1800 80 48 48

Available Monday to Sunday from 10am - 10pm.

More Information

Email at any time. You can expect a response within 24 hours.

More Information
Support & Self-Care Groups

Aware Support & Self Care Groups offer a unique opportunity to talk openly about depression or bipolar disorder and its impact.

More information

Get Updates

Sign up to the Aware Newsletter by email to receive updates on Aware’s programmes, events, campaigns, services, volunteering opportunities & more...