You may know the symptoms of bipolar disorder: the extreme highs and lows, the risky behavior, the difficulty to focus. But some friends and family members grow concerned because their loved ones are telling them things that they know aren’t true.
People may have concerns that their loved ones are lying, but they aren’t sure how a bipolar diagnosis plays into this.
As with many things when it comes to bipolar disorder, the answer isn’t as cut and dry as true versus false, or lying versus honesty.
There are three known types of bipolar disorder:
Bipolar 1 is marked by manic episodes, which may or may not precede or follow major depressive episodes.
Bipolar 2 is marked by a major depressive episode, which precedes or follows a hypomanic episode.
Cyclothymia, or cyclothymic disorder, is characterized by depressive symptoms that don’t reach the severity of a major depressive episode, and symptoms that don’t reach the severity of a hypomanic episode. To receive a diagnosis of cyclothymia, symptoms must last for at least 2 years.
Although signs of the disorder vary, lying isn’t on the official list of symptoms.
There’s no clinical evidence that links bipolar disorder with lying, though some anecdotal accounts have alleged a connection.
There are many reasons why a person with bipolar disorder may lie, just like there are many reasons why someone without bipolar disorder may lie.
They may not realize at the time that what they said was untrue. Because of this, they may give another answer or explanation later on.
With lying there’s an intent to deceive. In mania, a person is experiencing a legitimate disturbance in their emotional and cognitive functioning. A person experiencing a manic episode may tell a lie, yes, but it may be in line with their current state of belief.
While people have been suggesting for decades that there’s a link, it’s important to remember that there’s no clinical evidence that links bipolar disorder with lying.
Although a person with bipolar disorder may give false information — not out of spite, but because of an episode — the stories they tell can still hurt.
However frequent, being thought of as lying can fracture the trust you have in your relationship. The more lies that are told, the deeper the fracture can become until the relationship is completely severed.
Losing relationships can further alienate someone with bipolar disorder. This can exacerbate their symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, known as CBT, could help your loved one identify the symptoms of bipolar disorder that are leading to the “lying behavior.”
CBT can help someone recognize how their behaviors when experiencing a bipolar episode may negatively impact their relationships and learn to develop healthier behaviors and skills to better manage emotions.
Talk therapy may also help your loved one work through what they’re experiencing and learn effective coping skills. Medication management of symptoms is also a large part of the treatment plan. Find out about more treatments for bipolar disorder.
People with bipolar disorder can turn to the International Bipolar Foundation for more information on the illness and ways they can find treatment and help.
We also annually collect a number of the best blogs, videos, and apps, that can help anyone living with bipolar disorder and their friends and family learn more about the condition and manage their well-being.
We also host our own bipolar podcast, Inside Bipolar, available on your favorite podcast player.
Caring for someone with bipolar disorder can cause stress, anxiety, and pain for friends and family. Although your loved one needs help for their illness, you also need to take care of yourself. There are several coping strategies for friends and family of a person with bipolar disorder. Here are some tips to try:
Read literature on bipolar disorder
Educating yourself on the illness will give you a glimpse into what your loved one is going through. If you better understand bipolar disorder and its symptoms, you’ll know how to better manage it.
Create a safe space for yourself
Dealing with your loved one’s lying and other serious behavioral issues can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health. Make sure that you carve out time to take care of your own needs and practice self-care.
This could mean working out or engaging in joyful movement for however long you desire, taking long walks every afternoon, or scheduling weekend dinners with friends.
Talk with a therapist
Speaking with a mental health professional may help you work through any emotional or mental issues you may be facing because of your loved one’s disorder. A therapist can provide professional insight into the illness, give advice, and offer crisis management services.
You may also want to join in on one of your loved one’s therapy sessions if they feel comfortable. You can work together with the therapist on how to learn skills to help themselves cope with the stressors of caring for a loved one.
Attend family support groups
Meeting with families who are experiencing the same problems as you can bring a sense of solidarity and calm. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has lists of local and online support groups you can reach out to.
No clinical basis exists for the belief that bipolar disorder is connected to lying. People living with bipolar disorder may even be harmed by the perpetuating of this stigma.
Work with your loved one to get help for their symptoms, while still giving yourself enough emotional and mental space for self-care.