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Understanding Bipolar Disorder And Stigma

Bipolar Disorder Is A Severe, Lifelong Medical Condition

Bipolar Disorder Is A Severe, Lifelong Medical Condition

What are the biggest proponents of eliminating stigma and discrimination?  Advocacy and education.  We believe that for a community to move forward with regard to stigma, especially when it’s connected to mental health, a lot of the groundwork comes through one on one relationships and standing up for what’s right.  That’s why we do our best to put the client in the center of the treatment process and it’s also why we want to take the time, both here and in our face to face interactions to educate people about mental health and all of its components.

Today we’d like to talk about bipolar and to take some time to educate our clients, families, friends, and community members with regard to this serious brain disorder.  Our hope is that we can have more compassion for people who suffer from this medical condition through empathy and raising a greater awareness for the disease itself.

The Meaning of “Bipolar”

Properly known as bipolar, although in the past it has been known as manic-depression, this mental illness is incredibly complex.  The name “bipolar” comes from the idea that it causes someone to go between the two polar opposites of the emotional spectrum, ranging from highs of mania to the lows depression.  Think of it as having an extreme version of the typical “ups and downs” that people experience.  At times, someone with bipolar can appear symptom-free, or they might not sleep for days while in a “manic” state, or they may crash in a state of depression.

Historically, bipolar disorder is one of the most researched mental health conditions and affects about 3 percent of the US adult population.  A staggeringly large amount of those who suffer from bipolar, 83% to be exact, can be classified as having a “severe” case of the disease.  Typically, bipolar manifests during the 20’s, however, it can appear earlier or later in life.  As with other types of medical issues, the sooner someone receives the correct diagnosis, the more effective and efficient the treatment process can be.

Onset And Symptoms

In children, early signs of bipolar can be seen in several-hour long temper tantrums or oddly out of time displays of happiness.  Teens can have a drop in grades, quit extracurricular activities, or may have other risky behaviors that are worth it to take the time to evaluate with a health care provider.

When someone is in a manic state, they might also experience hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions.  When these psychotic symptoms are experienced, it’s possible that someone could be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, which historically has been one of the difficulties of treating bipolar disorder.

Types Of Bipolar

As with many mental illnesses, there is not one black and white image how bipolar shows up, but a variety of shades of grey that are broken down in to different disease types:

  • Bipolar Type 1 is distinguished by at least one manic episode.  Although an individual may also have a major depressive episode, there are some Type 1’s who do not experience depression.  Manic episodes must last up to seven days in order to be classified as Type 1 and may require hospitalization.
  • Bipolar Type 2 is characterized by major depression as well as an hypo-manic state which is noted by high energy levels and a lack of impulse control, but not quite a “full-on” manic episode.  Hypomania also does not have psychotic episodes that can be present in Type 1.
  • Cyclothymia has less severe mood swings with rapid shifting from hypomania to a milder form of depression.  Patients with cyclothymia can have four or more major mood swings, which can include mixed symptoms of both mania and depression within a year.  Normal mood experiences can be brief, lasting less than two months.
  • Rapid-Cycling Bipolar has much shorter cycles of mania and depression, which is the most severe form of bipolar.

A variety of treatment options often include a combination of medication, psychotherapy, education and self-management, which can include knowing the early warning signs of a mood shift.  As we said before, getting the right diagnosis and learning more about the disease and treatment options will be the first step towards the road to recovery.  Here at the PTI, we want to take the time to educate our clients and their families about their illness as well as their medication.  It’s crucial to us that you are getting the service and care that you deserve so that you can get better, meet your goals, and lean into your optimal state of health.  If you or a loved one would like to talk more about bipolar or psychological testing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

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