Bipolar disorder is often misunderstood, leaving family members torn apart, discouraged, and confused. Multiple myths cloud the truth of how bipolar affects the human body and how people can successfully manage this difficult disease. The following are some of the myths that need to be dispelled in order for families and those with bipolar to move forward positively with knowledge and hope.
Myth: Bipolar Disorder is Uncommon
Nearly 2.6 percent of America’s adults have bipolar disorder. Researchers are also finding that the number of children exhibiting symptoms of bipolar is increasing. It is difficult to diagnose a child with bipolar because of typical childhood behavioral issues, but not impossible. Because of this, there may be more children who have bipolar but are not correctly diagnosed.
Myth: Manically Depressive Episodes Appear Quickly and Subside Quickly
The frequency and severity of bipolar episodes varies between people. There are four types of bipolar disorder that effect different people in different ways. Oftentimes, in between episodes, the person will still have mild fluctuations of mood and periods of depression.
Myth: Health Professionals Can Diagnose Bipolar Disorder With a Diagnostic Test
In 2008, a supposed test to determine whether or not a person had bipolar disorder could be purchased over the Internet. The test only proved if the person could be at risk for bipolar due to their genetics. It takes more care to diagnose bipolar disorder because it has so many other traits similar to other diseases.
Myth: Bipolar Disorder Can Only be Treated With Medication
While medication can help treat much of a bipolar disorder, the patient must also make good choices in managing their daily lifestyle. Psychotherapy can also be very beneficial in helping to manage bipolar. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including proper sleep, exercise, and good eating/drinking habits cannot cure the illness, but can help improve symptoms. Managing the illness requires dedication to an overall healthy life.
Myth: Antidepressants Are Never Recommended For Bipolar Disorder
While some recent studies claimed that the use of antidepressants could induce a manic episode, doctors still assert that depression is a part of bipolar disorder and can be treated safely with antidepressants. According to Dr. Francis Mondimore, associate clinical director of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, bipolar and depression are like the ends of a spectrum in the illnesses. The illnesses are tangled together and must be equally addressed.
Myth: If Only People With Bipolar Disorder Tried a Little Harder They Could Get Better.
If someone were to tell a person with diabetes that they could get better if they only tried harder, it would make about as much sense as telling that to someone with bipolar disorder. No one chooses to have bipolar disorder. Too often people associate mood swings with not being able to “control” themselves or control emotions. Bipolar is not only about mood swings. It is a serious and challenging disorder that deserves proper treatment and management.