Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings. Other symptoms of BPD include shifts in energy as well as activity levels. For the most part, BPD can and will interfere with the day to day activities of the sufferer. With all that we know about BPD there are still many myths out there. Many involving how people act while in a manic or depressive state. Some of these myths are just exaggerations of actual facts. While others are downright falsehoods. This list from Psych2Go offers up facts about BPD and what the disorder actually is.
1. Bipolar Disorder is NOT curable
The sufferer will have a lifetime of mood stabilizing medications after onset. Without them the sufferer faces relapses of manic and depressive episodes. With these episodes the sufferer will have a distinct disruption in their daily activities. If left untreated, they may even find that people they were once close to have backed away. Usually do to the unpredictable nature of their illness. Mood stabilizers give the sufferer a more even keel to their life.
2. Bipolar Disorder is NOT the same as depression
While bipolar disorder does share some similarities with depression they are not one and the same. Those who suffer from BPD have mood swings rather than just episodes of depression. Manic refers to episodes of high energy whereas depressive refers to episodes of low energy. Bipolar disorder and depression are both mood disorders but they are vastly and inherently different.
3. Bipolar Disorder is often misdiagnosed
This is an important point to remember in case you think that you might be a sufferer. Bipolar disorder is usually misdiagnosed as depression in women and schizophrenia in men. If you think that you have BPD but feel that you were diagnosed with another illness , you may want to speak with your doctor. Make sure that all relevant questions are asked and that you feel that you were listened to.
4. Anyone can develop Bipolar Disorder
For the most part, bipolar disorder has an onset of late teens or early twenties. Though it can also present in children and older adults. Each case is different and has its own physical, mental, and emotional demands. Again, BPD is a lifetime illness but it is manageable with the right medications and care.
5. There are no blood tests or scans for Bipolar Disorder
The only way to obtain a proper bipolar diagnosis is to see a psychiatrist that specializes in mood disorders. Depending upon your health insurance you may need a referral first. That being said, there are no MRI scans or x-rays that will give any indication that bipolar disorder is present. There have been scans done to see how the brain reacts during manic and depressive episodes. However, those were done post diagnosis.
6. Mood swings are normal
The difference between every day mood swings and bipolar related mood swings is the severity level. Though there are some instances where severe mood swings aren’t a cause to believe someone is suffering from bipolar disorder. Both ADHD and pregnancy have large or severe mood swings as symptoms. If ADHD is being treated but the severe swings are still present it might be prudent to seek out a possible secondary diagnosis. With pregnancy. the swings should subside after the balance of hormones is back to normal.
7. There are three types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar type 1 is characterized as having at least one manic and one depressive episode. This type can also involve bipolar psychosis. This is very serious and needs immediate psychiatric treatment. Bipolar type 2 is characterized by at least one episode of hypomania and one major depressive episode. Cyclothymia is the third BPD type. This one is characterized by the cycles of hypomania and dysthymic, or persistent depressive, episodes.
8. Familial history does NOT guarantee a diagnosis for you
Genetics do play a big role in the presence of bipolar disorder but they are not a guarantee. Studies have shown that environmental factors and stressful situations have also impacted a bipolar disorder diagnosis. In some studies, it was found that one sibling had bipolar symptoms whereas the other one had none at all.
9. Mania isn’t always fun and games
Sometimes mania can seem like it is one big party where the sufferer is just in a heightened state of happy. While this may be the case for some it is not a universal truth for all. In fact, many cases of mania within bipolar disorder have manifested in extreme irritability and even psychotic episodes. In a mania induces psychotic episode the sufferer may think that they are rich and famous. This may lead them to partaking in risky or dangerous behaviors.
10. People with Bipolar Disorder are not inherently dangerous to themselves or others
This fact comes with a caveat of sorts. Those in treatment for bipolar disorder are rarely a danger to themselves or other. Studies have shown that those with BPD and other mental illness are more likely to become targets of violence or other crimes. Those that are not being treated can be a little more unpredictable though. For the most part, millions of BPD suffers are leading full and productive lives.
If you think you may be suffering from bipolar disorder, please speak with your physician or mental health professional. There are treatments out there that can help you lead a full and happy life.
Other reading from Psych2Go:
“Bipolar Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Nov. 2015, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml. Retrieved November 1, 2017
“99 Bipolar Disorder Facts.” Bipolar-Lives.com, Bipolar Lived , 18 June 2014, www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-disorder-facts.html. Retrieved November 1, 2017
Iliades, Chris. “7 Myths and Facts About Bipolar Disorder.” EverydayHealth.com, Everyday Health Media, 25 Mar. 2014, www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder-pictures/bipolar-disorder-facts-and-myths-0119.aspx#15. Retrieved November 1, 2017