Please Stop Believing These Are Harmful Bipolar Disorder Myths And Facts:
Bipolar disorder is characterized by fluctuations in mood between mania and depression. There are many misconceptions about bipolar disorder, which can influence stigma, willingness to seek treatment, and appropriate illness management. Here are a few bipolar disorder myths and facts, so you can arm yourself with knowledge and help end the stigma.
Myth: Bipolar Disorder Is Rare:
Fact: Bipolar disorder is a common mental health condition, affecting millions of people.
It’s estimated that up to 2.1% of the population will experience bipolar disorder in their lifetime. Rates of bipolar disorder are relatively equal between men and women. However, the prevalence of bipolar disorder may vary based on individual characteristics. For example, bipolar disorder may be greater among:
- Native American communities
- People with lower education levels or socioeconomic status
- People who were previously married
- Young and middle-aged people
Bipolar disorder includes significant fluctuations in mood, from periods of mania to periods of depression. Although bipolar disorder is not as common as some other mental health conditions, it is one of the most burdensome psychiatric illnesses. Bipolar disorder is chronic and long-lasting, and the presence of both manic and depressive features can significantly impair a person’s ability to live normally.
Myth: There Is Only One Type of Bipolar Disorder:
Fact: There are several types of bipolar disorder.
- Bipolar I – features at least one manic episode
- Bipolar II – features at least one hypomanic episode
- Cyclothymic Disorder – features hypomanic and depressive symptoms in rapid cycles
- Substance/Medication-Induced Bipolar and Related Disorder
- Bipolar and Related Due to Another Medical Condition
- Other Specified Bipolar and Related Disorder
- Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorder
Myth: Children do not get bipolar disorder:
Fact: Bipolar disorder can also diagnose in children and teenagers.
Bipolar disorder can occur in children as young as age six. It is more likely to affect children of parents who have bipolar disorder. Children tend to have very fast mood swings between depression and mania many times during the day whereas adults tend to experience intense moods for weeks or months at a time. Parents should attempt to get independent verification and consider carefully any such diagnosis of a very young child.
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.
They last for a short period of time. But the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are very different and extreme and can affect every aspect of a person’s life and activities.
Myth: You Can Get a Test to Diagnose It:
Fact: There is currently no simple test for bipolar disorder.
Unlike many physical conditions, there is no clear biological marker or test for bipolar disorder. This can make testing for and diagnosing bipolar disorder challenging, as a diagnosis includes several criteria that require a detailed understanding of a person’s history and symptoms.
Myth: There is no treatment for bipolar disorder:
Fact: Bipolar disorder can also maintain with a combination of medications and psychotherapy.
Bipolar disorder is best treated with a combination of medications, which can include mood stabilizers and antipsychotics used in combination with psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Myth: People who have bipolar disorder cannot work:
Fact: Proper medical treatment and good support enable most people (more than 75%) with bipolar to work and be successful.
Myth: People with bipolar disorder are violent:
Fact: People with bipolar disorder are not inherently violent.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder, and in particular mania, include irritability and impulsivity. Although these symptoms may make people feel agitated or aggressive, having bipolar disorder does not automatically make a person violent.
Myth: Once the bipolar disorder is under control, people can stop their medications:
Fact: Bipolar disorder is an illness that most often requires people to continue taking medications, even if they are symptom-free.
Medication can act in a preventative way, helping people to avoid relapses. You should always consult with your doctor before stopping any medications.
Myth: There’s nothing you can do to help a loved one with bipolar:
Facts: The support of a loved one can benefit people with bipolar disorder.
Loved ones can also help someone with bipolar disorder by identifying changes in symptoms and behaviors that might indicate cycling from a manic to a depressive episode or vice versa. This can encourage a patient to seek professional assistance and adjust their treatment accordingly.