There is no doubt that bipolar disorder is one of the most misunderstood mental health diagnoses. It is also one of the most debilitating, often leading to suicidal thoughts, unstable relationships, and severe feelings of depression.
It is important to understand bipolar disorder is not a temporary state of mind or a simple break in the mood. Bipolar disorder is a serious, long-term mental health condition that leads to mood swings and changes in activity levels and frequently causes instability in daily life and a persistent sense of hopelessness.
It can be hard to identify the symptoms of bipolar disorder at times, as there are a wide variety of symptoms that someone may experience, and severity will vary from person to person. However, bipolar disorder is typically characterized by alternating episodes of mania and depression, or sometimes a mix of the two. Sometimes, these episodes span over hours, days, weeks, or months. Mania can cause an individual to have very high energy levels, inflated self-esteem, and an intense need to act on impulses. The individual may have an increased need for sleep and an increased appetite, which can lead to weight gain. Mania can also cause an individual trouble regulating their thoughts and emotions.
The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder comes in different forms, each of which requires specific treatment plans. The two most common types of bipolar disorder are bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. A person diagnosed with bipolar I disorder must have experienced at least one manic episode in their lifetime. There is also depression present; however, it is not as severe or considered the defining feature.
The most commonly diagnosed type of bipolar disorder is bipolar II disorder. A person diagnosed with bipolar II disorder must have experienced at least one episode of depression and one episode of hypomania. A hypomanic episode is considered milder than a manic episode. It is unlikely that someone diagnosed with bipolar II disorder will have experienced a full-blown manic episode.
Dispelling Myths About Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is frequently misunderstood. There are many myths and misconceptions about bipolar disorder that can make it difficult for people to get the help they need and lead to stigma and shame surrounding the disorder. Here are some common myths about bipolar disorder and the truth behind them.
Myth #1: Bipolar disorder is just “mood swings”
Fact: Bipolar disorder is much more than simply having mood swings. It is a complex, chronic condition that can cause severe disruptions in a person’s life. Mood swings in bipolar disorder can be much more intense and last for much longer than the daily mood swings most people sometimes experience.
Myth #2: People with bipolar disorder are self-destructive
Fact: While it’s true that people with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of self-harm and suicide, it is important to remember that this is not always the case. With proper treatment and support, many people with bipolar disorder live happy, successful, and normal lives.
Myth #3: Bipolar disorder is caused by bad parenting
Fact: There is no single cause of bipolar disorder. It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Myth #4: People with bipolar disorder are dangerous
Fact: People with bipolar disorder are no more likely to be violent than the general population. In fact, most people with bipolar disorder are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
Myth #5: People with bipolar disorder are always unstable
Fact: Again, this is not true. While people with bipolar disorder may experience periods of instability, with proper treatment, people with bipolar disorder are not any more unstable than anyone else.
Myth #6: Bipolar disorder is untreatable
This couldn’t be further from the truth! While there is no “cure” for bipolar disorder, it is a treatable condition. With medication and therapy, people with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms and live happy and fulfilling lives.
Life Adjustment Team Can Help
Hopefully, this article has helped to dispel some of the myths about bipolar disorder for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, please remember that help is available. Reach out to our team of specialists here at LAT to learn more.