The Importance of Bipolar Awareness
As with other mental disorders, there is both stigma around bipolar disorder and a lot of misconceptions and myths about what it means and how it presents. For many, however, something as simple as learning about celebrities who have bipolar disorder or seeing others openly share their experiences can open the door to self-acceptance. Awareness of the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder also helps individuals and families become more likely to seek out professional care when appropriate – or otherwise better understand the intricacies of bipolar disorder and their loved ones that may have it.
It is important to note that there are two types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar 1, characterized by manic episodes and possible depressive episodes, and Bipolar 2, characterized by depressive episodes and at least one occurrence of “elevated” mood – but no manic episodes. Symptoms and characteristics of bipolar can present differently in each person, therefore it’s always suggested to seek out professional assistance and diagnosis before coming to conclusions.
Understanding the complexities of bipolar disorder and its types helps lessen common misconceptions regarding this condition and what it means when loved ones have it. While there are misconceptions about how bipolar presents, there are also many misconceptions around what people with bipolar disorder are like. Some of the more unfortunate common myths about persons with bipolar disorder is that they are untrustworthy, unstable, and/or only experiencing mood swings.
Bipolar Information for Family Members
Due to the nature of the condition, individuals with bipolar disorder may not be able to spot the signs themselves. Instead, family members are often the ones to notice something is wrong, and can be instrumental in getting their loved one the help they need.
A few signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- Intense mood swings, sometimes rapid and sometimes not
- Manic and/or depressive episodes that last for days, weeks, or months at a time
- Irritability, impulsivity, restlessness, and self-harm
- Bursts of intense energy or excessive sleepiness
During episodes of mania, some may experience:
- Racing thoughts
- Decreased need for sleep
- Exaggerated sense of self-confidence
- Heightened talkativeness
- Poor decision-making
During depressive episodes, some may experience:
- Depressed mood and/or feeling sad, hopeless, and empty
- Loss of interest in activities one once enjoyed
- Feelings of worthlessness
Symptoms can be mild or extreme, and may be triggered by physical changes such as puberty or pregnancy. Symptoms can also present differently, or at the same time. If you suspect a loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder, approach them with compassion and let them know you are available to assist in getting them help.
Reducing the Bipolar Stigma
This World Bipolar Day, set aside some time to familiarize yourself with bipolar disorder and how it presents. Not only will you become better able to understand and help those with the mental health condition, you’ll also become a valuable tool in helping reduce the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions as a whole. Breaking the stigma starts with you.
In need of professional support? Learn about Synergy Health Programs and our free Retreat Family services, including virtual family workshops and support groups.