Many people are guilty of using “bipolar” in a joking manner. Maybe we call a friend “bipolar” when they get moody, or maybe we use the term to describe the weather. While these comments may be a joke to some, they diminish the severity of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is one of the most misunderstood and hard to diagnose mental disorders out there. Here are a few surprising but interesting facts about bipolar disorder that may make you rethink using the term in a light-hearted way in the future.
Bipolar disorder is when an individual cycles between manic highs and depressive lows. However, sometimes the manic highs may be infrequent or short enough to go unnoticed. This means that the depression overshadows the other symptoms. More than 20% of people who seek help for depression receive a diagnosis for bipolar disorder.
As we mentioned, bipolar disorder is often confused with other disorders. In fact, around half the people diagnosed with bipolar disorder have to see at least three medical professionals before receiving a proper diagnosis. This can be frustrating, and many times patients get treatment for one disorder for years before realizing it’s actually bipolar disorder impacting them. For some people, it can take up to ten years to begin receiving treatment for their bipolar disorder due to delayed diagnosis.
Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by another psychiatric condition. This can make diagnosing it even more challenging. Many people with bipolar have substance abuse issues, which often develop due to their attempts to self medicate. People with bipolar disorder can have anxiety and depression as well.
Another reason bipolar disorder is so challenging to diagnose is that it commonly shows itself in the late teen years. Teenagers can be moody, which means parents may brush off symptoms and signs as normal adolescent behavior. Bipolar disorder in teens can be even more severe than in adults, and they have a higher risk of suicide.
Parents should contact a psychiatrist if they are worried about their teenagers’ behavior.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.