Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is estimated to affect about 2.6 percent of the adult population in the United States. Yet, in spite of the commonality of bipolar disorder, many people – including patients with bipolar disorder and their family members – still have a lot of misconceptions about this disorder.
Whether you’re still seeking a diagnosis, have recently been diagnosed, or have a family member with bipolar disorder, make sure you have not fallen prey to these four common myths.
1. Everyone With Bipolar Disorder Has Violent Mood Swings
Television often portrays individuals with bipolar disorder as alternating between suicidal episodes and excessive manic periods during which they spend thousands of dollars and leap from moving cars. While some patients do experience mood swings this violent, many patients with bipolar disorder have mood swings that are more subdued.
For some bipolar patients, a period of mania may just be characterized by racing thoughts or increased distraction. Some report simply not feeling tired or experiencing elevated, boundless energy levels for a time.
Similarly, a depressive episode may not be so serious as to trigger thoughts of suicide. You may simply feel blue for seemingly no reason at all, experience feelings of fatigue, or stop taking pleasure in daily activities.
Don’t put off seeking a diagnosis for bipolar disorder because you think your mood swings are not severe enough. Not every case of bipolar disorder is as intense and severe as those seen in the movies.
2. Bipolar Disorder Will Go Away on Its Own, Eventually
Some patients with bipolar disorder delay treatment for years because they think that treatment is for the weak and that the disease will go away on its own if they wait long enough. However, bipolar disorder is a life-long condition. There is no cure, and it won’t spontaneously disappear one day, either.
The sooner you seek treatment for bipolar disorder, the sooner you can move forward in life and start feeling better. Without treatment, your symptoms may worsen, and the negative effects that bipolar disorder has on your social life and career may just grow more extensive.
3. Medications for Bipolar Disorder Cause More Problems Than They Solve
You may be afraid to take medications for bipolar disorder because you know someone who had unwanted side effects or because the list of side effects on the pill bottle seems worse than the symptoms you’re currently experiencing.
It’s true that bipolar medications can cause unwanted side effects in some patients. However, there are many different medications that are effective in treating bipolar disorder. If one does not work well for you, then your doctor can switch you to a different medication.
When you do find the right medication for you, the effects will be life-changing. But if you avoid medications entirely for fear of side effects, your symptoms may never improve.
4. Bipolar Disorder Will Keep You From Living a Successful Life
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder can feel a bit like being diagnosed with cancer if you believe this condition will prevent you from living your dreams and being successful. But while living with bipolar disorder is not always easy, it does not have to stand in the way of your success, either.
Did you know that Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Demi Lovato all have bipolar disorder? These famous folks all have something else in common, too. They are in treatment for their disorder, and they’ve remained determined not to let it stand in their way. With the help of a treatment team and a healthy dose of positive thinking, you can do the same.
If you think that you or a friend may have bipolar disorder, do not let fear or feelings of helplessness stand between you and the treatment that will get your life back on track and your symptoms under control. Contact the Life Adjustment Team to learn how our rehabilitation programs can serve as the cornerstone of your treatment regimen.