Bipolar Disorder : The Myths And The Facts

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health illness. When diagnosed, the patients can have both medication and therapy.

People with bipolar face stigma especially when they relapse, which happens sometimes.

Here are a few myths and facts, so you can arm yourself with knowledge and help end the stigma. 

1. Myth: Bipolar disorder is just mood swings, which everybody has. 

Fact: The highs and lows of bipolar disorder are very different from common mood swings. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep that are not typical for them. 

The psychiatry research manager at one U.S. university, who wishes to stay anonymous, writes, “Just because you wake up happy, get grumpy in the middle of the day, and then end up happy again, it doesn’t mean you have bipolar disorder — no matter how often it happens to you! Even a diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder requires several days in a row of (hypo)manic symptoms, not just several hours. Clinicians look for groups of symptoms more than just emotions.” 

3. Myth: There is only one type of bipolar disorder. 

  • Bipolar I is diagnosed when a person has one or more depressive episodes and one or more manic episodes, sometimes with psychotic features such as hallucinations or delusions.
  • Bipolar II has depressive episodes as its major feature and at least one
    hypomanic episode. Hypomania is a less severe type of mania. A person with
    bipolar II disorder may experience either mood-congruent or
    mood-incongruent psychotic symptoms.
  • Cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia) is defined by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years (1 year in children and adolescents) without meeting the severity requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
  • Bipolar disorder otherwise not specified does not follow a particular pattern and is defined by bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.

4. Myth: Bipolar disorder can be cured through diet and exercise. 

Fact: Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and there currently is no cure. However, it can be well-managed with medication and talk therapy, by avoiding stress, and maintaining regular patterns of sleeping, eating, and exercise. 

5. Myth: Mania is productive. You’re in a good mood and fun to be around. 

Fact: In some instances, a manic person may feel good at first, but without treatment things can become detrimental and even terrifying. They may go on a big shopping spree, spending beyond their means. Some people become overly anxious or highly irritable, getting upset over small things and snapping at loved ones. A manic person may lose control of their thoughts and actions and even lose touch with reality.

6. Myth: Artists with bipolar disorder will lose their creativity if they get treatment. 

Fact: Treatment often allows you to think more clearly, which will likely improve your work. Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Marya Hornbacher discovered this firsthand. 

“I was very persuaded I would never write again when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But before, I wrote one book; and now I’m on my seventh.” 

She has found that her work is even better with treatment. 

7. Myth: People with bipolar disorder are always either manic or depressed. 

Fact: People with bipolar disorder can experience long periods of even, balanced mood called euthymia. Conversely, they may sometimes experience what’s referred to as a “mixed episode,” which has features of both mania and depression at the same time.

Have medical questions? Connect with an experienced, board-certified therapist online or by phone. Pediatricians and other specialists also available 24/7.

8. Myth: All medications for bipolar disorder are the same. 

Fact: It might take some trial and error to find the medication that works for you. “There are several mood stabilizers/antipsychotic medications available to treat bipolar disorder. Something that works for one person might not work for another.

If someone tries one and it doesn’t work or has side effects, it’s very important that they communicate this to their provider. The provider should be there to work as a team with the patient to find the right fit,” writes the psychiatry research manager. 


Source: Cleveland Clinic

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