Bipolar disorder is often called manic depressive disorder, and it is characterized by extreme shifts in mood -- not like the typical highs and lows others might experience on a good or bad day. These mood swings are so severe that they disrupt relationships and even a person's ability to hold down a job. Episodes can also include impulsive or reckless behavior and aggression. Only a psychiatrist can diagnose the disorder, and a combination of medication and therapy may be needed to manage it.
Though more awareness is being created about the disorder, there are still many popular myths surrounding it. Here are some of the top myths about the condition:
1. "Bipolar" is Just Another Name for Mood Swings
This serious condition is marked by much more severe shifts than typical mood swings. While the average person might go from being energetic to grumpy during an afternoon slump, a person diagnosed with this condition has severe changes in mood that are marked by extreme behavior.
2. It's a Rare Condition
Nearly 6 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with the disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and many more may go undiagnosed. Many children and teenagers also suffer from the condition, adding to the numbers. Estimates vary for the total number since there is debate about how to diagnose children and teenagers.
3. Medication and Therapy are the Only Options for Treatment
While talking with a psychiatrist and taking the appropriate medication are the most effective treatment strategies, other practices may also help. For example, making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise and maintaining a consistent sleep routine can all manage symptoms. Identifying triggers for episodes can also help with management of the condition.
It is important to understand the truth about bipolar disorder so that those who have it can get the right treatment and those who think they might have it will be encouraged to seek help.
Contacting a psychiatrist in your area that is experienced with treating the disorder is the best place to start.