Once in awhile we invite guest bloggers and I am so happy to introduce Valerie from www.healthline.com Thanks Valerie for contributing to the cause and educating others about bipolar disorder. **You’re a star!**
As bipolar disorder enters the public lexicon, it remains one of the most misunderstood conditions from which a person can suffer. Here are a few common misconceptions regarding bipolar disorder and how people can change their views and understanding of the disease.
Myth No. 1: It’s Not Real
One of the reasons that bipolar disorder is so misunderstood is that it can be difficult to detect and many of the symptoms don’t seem all that different from the odd day everyone goes through once in a while. Everyday has experienced mood swings, and the everyday stresses of work and other parts of life can lead to some shifts in a person’s emotions or bodily functions. However, bipolar disorder is a very real condition, and it is not just an extreme case of everyday mood swings.
Nationwide, an estimated six million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, although the disease comes in a few different types. In general, bipolar disorder affects people by causing dramatic shifts in mood and mindset, from a high stage called mania to the lows of depression.
Bipolar I disorder involves episodes of both mania and depression, whereas bipolar II disorder involves mostly depression with episodes of a lesser mania, called hypomania. Each of these conditions varies greatly between patients, as cycles between the emotional episodes can vary. Some people suffer from mild forms of the disorder, fluctuating between hypomania and mild depression, while other people cycle through the stages very rapidly.
Bipolar disorder is frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and understanding the way that bipolar manifests itself is important for diagnosing it properly. The stages of the disease are frequently very slow (weeks or months in one episode), and the fluctuations also take time, so long-term observation is vital.
Myth No. 2: It Only Affects the Mind
Bipolar disorder is commonly associated with mental or emotional effects, but the condition also has an effect on patient’s bodies and daily lives.
Bipolar disorder has different effects during different episodes. Manic episodes come with a decreased need for sleep and a higher tolerance for risk. This means that people going through manic episodes may feel no effect from not sleeping, even though this can lead to more extreme symptoms. Patients tend to make riskier decisions involving finances, drinking and drugs, and sexual encounters, and these decisions often put themselves and others at risk.
Depressive episodes involve more sleep and greater fatigue, as patients lose interest in family, friends, and activities. Anxiety and guilt can accompany these, and patients tend to change their eating patterns, as well. Thoughts of suicide can also occur.
Myth No. 3: Meds Are the Answer (or the Enemy)
In working to address bipolar disorder, treatment should include more than just medicine, but it’s also important to understand the role that medicine can play.
Medicine has a key role in treating bipolar disorder, so patients should understand that side effects of such medicine have been misrepresented. Side effects can arise, but most of these decrease as the patient becomes accustomed to the medicine and dosage is adjusted properly. For example, some bipolar medication like antidepressants or antipsychotics can cause drowsiness, but this typically comes with high dosages and new uses. As the medicine takes effects and the patient’s mindset adjusts to a normal level, less medicine is required and fewer side effects arise.
In addition to medicine, those suffering from bipolar disorder should also make an effort to adjust rebuild a healthier lifestyle. Finding an emotional support network is important because the effects of bipolar disorder can feel magnified in the absence of support. Physical health is equally important, as a healthy diet, exercise, and proper sleep can help decrease the effects of the disorder.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.