When you hear the term bipolar disorder, you might think of the term that defined it years ago: manic-depression. You might also think of someone who is happy one minute and crying the next. You might think the only symptoms that define this disorder are big mood swings. Unfortunately, all of these misconceptions have led to the myths that shroud and plague individuals with bipolar disorder.
At Arundel Medical Group, doctors Vincent Izzi, Ram Rastogi, Stephan Izzi, and Anil Chopra as well as the rest of our team, want to help diagnose, treat, and manage your bipolar disorder so you don’t have to suffer alone. The first step is correcting the myths about the mental health disorder.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is uncommon
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 6 million adults in the United States suffer from bipolar disorder. While the median onset for the illness is 25 years old, the disorder can also appear for the first time in younger and older individuals.
Myth: Bipolar disorder describes one type of illness
In fact, there are three main categories of bipolar disorder. The first, bipolar I, is a disorder that causes drastic mood swings. This is most often what’s thought of when one says the term bipolar disorder. Bipolar II involves less severe episodes, but still causes depressive and manic moods.
Finally, cyclothymic disorder is the mildest form of bipolar disorder. If you have this disorder, you may have episodes that disrupt your life, but they won’t be severe enough to meet the diagnostic criteria for manic or depressive episodes.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is only defined by rapid mood swings
This is a damaging myth because people who believe it aren’t understanding the full story. They might look only for rapid mood swings between high energy and severe depression, and in the absence of these highly specific effects, might dismiss the problem as less than it is. Sometimes, a manic or depressive mood may last for months, while other times, the symptoms themselves don’t exhibit a severe difference.
Bipolar disorder causes both manic and depressive states, but they are more than their high highs and low lows. For example, the symptoms of a manic state can include any of the below:
- High energy
- Feeling wired
- Talking faster, more often, or more intensely
- Risky behavior
On the other hand, depressive periods are more than just periods of sadness. Symptoms of depressive episodes can also include:
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Feeling empty
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in eating patterns
Myth: People are only manic or depressive at any given time
Actually, with bipolar disorder, symptoms don’t show up in nice, neat packages or at regular intervals. People can experience both a manic and depressive period at the same time, feeling sad yet unable to sit still. In addition, some people with the disorder experience symptoms infrequently or rarely, causing them to function normally much of the time.
Myth: Bipolar disorder can’t be treated
Actually, many treatments exist for bipolar disorder. Medications like mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antimanic drugs work well for some patients. Psychotherapy is also an extremely effective treatment. In many cases, multiple treatment options should be used together to provide a supportive program for those with this disorder.
Myth: The outside world can’t influence or trigger your symptoms
In fact, the outside world can strongly affect your symptoms and even bring them on. Issues like stress, drinking alcohol, and drug use can trigger manic and depressive symptoms or make them worse.
Myth: If you have symptoms, you should be hospitalized
This is an antiquated idea that assumes all people dealing with bipolar disorder cannot manage their condition. Many people with the illness have mild symptoms that medication and therapy can prevent or control.
Want to learn more about bipolar disorder?
If you think you might have bipolar disorder, call 410-766-1444, or make an appointment online today. We are more than happy to discuss your condition and help you manage it at our Glen Burnie, Maryland, office.