Fact or Fiction? Busting Myths About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder, once called manic depression, is a mood disorder that is characterized by periods of extreme high moods and extremely low moods. But, for people with this disorder, the negative social stigma that surrounds it can keep them from getting the help they need. Addressing and breaking myths about bipolar disorder can help to destigmatize the condition and give people living with this mental health disorder the motivation and confidence they need to get the help they deserve.

Identifying What Bipolar Disorder Is

Before determining and addressing the myths about bipolar disorder, it’s helpful to know what this mental health condition is. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder that’s characterized by major shifts in mood with normal moods in between episodes of mood shifts. These mood shifts can be both depressive and manic. Depressive episodes include feelings of hopelessness, sadness, sleep issues, and loss of interest in past enjoyable activities. Manic episodes are characterized by restlessness, irrational decision-making, and feelings of euphoria and excitement.

Unfortunately, many people living with bipolar disorder may not even know they’re experiencing this condition as the time between manic and depressive episodes can vary and even last months. So, sadly, many people living with this condition don’t get the help they need to manage symptoms. But, identifying myths about bipolar disorder can help people living with this condition understand what they’re going through. And, work toward getting the help they need to live productive and fulfilling lives managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Myth #1: It’s Rare to Get a Diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder

Some people may not think they’re dealing with symptoms of bipolar disorder because it’s “rare”. However, bipolar disorder may not be as rare as you think. In fact, it’s actually quite common. In fact, about 4.4% of US citizens will experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lifetimes, and those numbers are only based on people who actually get help and a diagnosis. So, spreading the felicity that this illness isn’t common can keep people who are experiencing symptoms of this condition from getting professional help.

Myth #2: Manic Episodes are Just Periods of Increased Energy

Many people believe that manic episodes are periods of peak energy. But, there are actually more symptoms of a manic episode than just an increase of energy. Some other characteristics of a manic episode can include:

  • not being able to stay or fall asleep
  • speaking fast or stumbling on words
  • being easily irritated
  • engaging in reckless behavior (gambling, drug abuse, unprotected sex, etc.)

Believing that manic episodes are just moments of high energy can keep people from understanding that what they are experiencing is in fact a manic episode in relation to bipolar disorder. So, addressing this myth can help people who are experiencing manic episodes to understand that what they may be experiencing is this mental health disorder.

Myth #3: Depressive Episodes are Just Feelings of Sadness

Depressive episodes, like manic episodes, are another characteristic of bipolar disorder. But, they’re not just about feeling sad for all people. Some other symptoms of experiencing a depressive episode for people with bipolar disorder may include:

  • being forgetful and having trouble concentrating
  • experiencing feelings of ‘emptiness’
  • trouble keeping healthy sleep patterns (not sleeping enough or sleeping too much)
  • not eating or eating too much

Getting Help for Bipolar Disorder

It’s important to know that bipolar disorder is experienced differently by different people. This means that manic and depressive episodes don’t look the same for every person with bipolar disorder. These episodes can be experienced at the same time, alternatively, or even have varying lengths of time in between. It’s not as simple as being depressed one day and feel energized the next.

Fortunately, for those who may think they’re living with this mental health issue, treatment is available. Delray Center for Healing is an outpatient mental health treatment facility that provides outpatient psychotherapy and psychiatric treatment services for individuals living with mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. And, we can even help to determine a correct diagnosis for those who may think they or their loved one is living with this condition.