-People with bipolar disorder experience dramatic mood swings followed by complete remission of symptoms.
-Medication is the only treatment for bipolar disorder.
-People with bipolar disorder aren’t trying hard enough.
-Once you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you can say goodbye to a normal life.
-People with bipolar disorder are dangerous.
-Suicide (committed by those with mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder) is not a real problem, and we should focus on other things instead.
-Someone who is bipolar is happy one minute, but sad the next.
-Bipolar is having mood swings.
Okay, now that we know what bipolar disorder ISN’T (and hopefully why it’s hurtful to say things like, “the weather is so bipolar this winter”), let’s talk about what bipolar disorder really is.
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, which is distinguished by a full blown manic episode at some point in the person’s life; bipolar II, a milder form of the disorder than bipolar I, goes back and forth between periods of depression and periods of elevated moods, but not actual mania; cyclothymic bipolar disorder, which is similar to bipolar II, but less severe. Several different swings from mania to depression in a single year indicate rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
-Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year.
-Although bipolar disorder is equally common in women and men, research indicates that approximately three times as many women as men experience rapid cycling.
-Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world.
-Bipolar disorder results in 9.2 years reduction in expected life span, and as many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide.
-Bipolar disorder is more likely to affect the children of parents who have the disorder.
-Up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and adolescents with depression in the United States may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder.
-A gender bias exists in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder: women are far more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression and men are far more likely to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia
-Consumers who report high levels of satisfaction with their treatment and treatment provider have a much more positive outlook about their illness and their ability to cope with it.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by two different types of “episodes”: mania, or manic episodes, and depression, or depressive episodes.
What is “mania”?
Mania is a state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal, and/or energy levels.
Symptoms of Mania:
- A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extreme irritability
- Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
- Being easily distracted
- Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects
- Being overly restless
- Sleeping little or not being tired
- Having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities
- Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors
What is “depression”?
Depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.
Symptoms of Depression:
- An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
- Feeling tired or “slowed down”
- Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Being restless or irritable
- Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.
While medication is an option for those suffering from bipolar disorder, it is not the only one, nor one that needs to affect your day to day life. Many affected individuals find therapy to be very helpful in learning ways to cope with stress related to the disorder.
Helping those with Bipolar Disorder
-Educate yourself on the disorder
-Listen when your loved one tries to talk to you. Sometimes they don’t want advice or judgement; they just want a friend to listen and sympathize.
-Encourage them to stick with treatment. Listen when they tell you the treatment isn’t working. Watch for signs that their treatment is or isn’t working for them.
-Be willing to accept their limits. If they’re uncomfortable doing something, don’t try to force them into it.
-Help them to reduce stress in their life, or help them cope during times of stress.
Groups and Organizations
In cases of emergency, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
To learn more about bipolar disorder and the manic and depressive episodes that ensue, please consider checking out the following resources:
please contact Waluigi with any questions, comments, advice, or concerns about this post.
Good post overall, but the description of bipolar II here is actually hella problematic.
Bipolar II is not “milder” than bipolar I. It’s true that bipolar II sufferers do not cycle into complete manic episodes, but this does not make their symptoms or experience with the disorder any less severe.
Bipolar II sufferers are characterised as having longer and more severe “lows” than most bipolar I sufferers. You are more likely to contemplate or commit suicide as a bipolar II sufferer.
The “ups” associated with bipolar II are called hypomanic episodes. It’s true they have a lesser impact on the sufferer’s degree of functioning than manic episodes, but they also make diagnosing bipolar II an absolute ass. Bipolar II sufferers will often be misdiagnosed as manic depressive, the treatment for which can severely impact the progression of bipolar II.
Mood cycling can vary from patient to patient, but bipolar II sufferers in general have a faster rate of cycling. As someone who cycles pretty fucking rapidly, I can tell you that fast mood cycling SUCKS. You don’t even have time to gain a foot-hold and establish coping mechanisms for one state because your brain’s already tipping you into the next.
In short, people really need to stop treating bipolar II like bipolar I’s less annoying cousin. That’s not how this shit works. Both are severe mood disorders with their own set of asshole quirks. Less Zim and Gir, more Team Rocket.