A few years ago I was talking to a woman suffering with depression. She had battled it for years and was done fighting the war. As she fought back tears she said, “I wish I had bipolar disorder, so the highs would make the lows seem better.” It was an interesting thought, and I had once believed similar bipolar misconceptions, but bipolar disorder is just as mentally exhausting during the manic phase as it is during the depressed phase.
Her thought was just one of the many myths behind this mental illness. You might be caught by a myth too, and here are seven of the most common bipolar misconceptions.
Myth 1: It is just a name for a moody person
Wrong. I have my moments of anger, tears, outbursts, and laughs, but my moods are very different than someone with bipolar disorder. The biggest difference can be found with the way people’s moods affect their everyday life. Someone with bipolar disorder struggles to work, manage a home, and keep up with school. Their reactions are abnormal and typically don’t fit the situation.
Myth 2: Medicine is the only way to control bipolar disorder
Medication can work miracles, but it is not a cure-all. A person suffering from bipolar disorder will see better results if they combine medicine and therapy with healthier life choices. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help the body produce natural endorphins that boost self-esteem and battle depression. A person also needs 8-9 consecutive hours of sleep to keep the body energized and focused; staying off of electronics before bed will help a person fall and stay asleep easier.
Myth 3: Bipolar is a rare illness
Not true. There are 5.7 million Americans who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and that is no small number. It affects even more people throughout the world, but still many live their lives undiagnosed and pass up treatment and help.
Myth 4: The switch from mania to depression is frequent
This is one of the most common myths about bipolar disorder; a person’s mood doesn’t flip on and off like a light switch. Typically people are in the depressed phase and slowly they will begin reacting to situations in a manic way; someone might begin sobbing uncontrollably during a commercial, but a few days later they might giggle when they open a fee for an unpaid bill. The manic and depressed phase can be hours, days, or even months apart depending on the person.
Myth 5: When a person is in the manic phase, they are overly happy
This is sadly not what the manic phase is for most people. While happiness can be a present emotion, a manic phase often leaves a person feeling out of control. The increase in energy and adrenaline makes it difficult to sleep and leads to poor decision making. Someone might go on a shopping spree, try drugs, and begin forgetting important appointments or dates. Relationships can be shoved aside, and people can get hurt emotionally. It isn’t until the manic phase is over that people can see the trail of damage left behind. If you feel it coming on, it is always good to get help.
Myth 6: Bipolar disorder only affects adults
Bipolar disorder can be found outside the adult age, but diagnosing it in children is tricky. Kids are naturally temperamental, and determining whether a tantrum one minute and a giggling fit the next are signs of having bipolar disorder takes documenting, therapy, and time. The average age for bipolar disorder to be diagnosed is age 25, but it can often go undiagnosed for several years prior.
Myth 7: Antidepressants shouldn’t be used for bipolar disorder
The idea that antidepressants would flip a person into mania is a valid concern, but it isn’t entirely true. Medicine should be taken with caution, but it seems to have no effect on the manic phase reoccurrence. When a person is frequently in the depressed phase, it is important to treat the depression first, and then focus on the manic phase. A professional can help you determine which medicine will work best for your bipolar disorder, so you can be in control of both the lows and the highs.
Bipolar Misconceptions About Treatment
Some people believe that treatment and management of bipolar disorder is impossible, but this isn’t true. Plenty of people with bipolar disorder learn to manage their symptoms and live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. At Morningside Recovery, we want to help all of our clients get to that state. We offer professional mental health rehab to help people who need mental health treatment and dual diagnosis. Some of our programs include:
- Bipolar disorder treatment
- Depression treatment
- Alcoholism and depression
- Benzodiazepines for anxiety
- Bipolar disorder and alcohol
To learn more about our programs and how to join our facility, call us today at 855-631-2135. Don’t let bipolar misconceptions prevent you from getting the help you need.