Common Myths About Bipolar Disorder and Their Truths

Posted on June 15, 2018

Bipolar

Thanks to new national awareness programs, more and more people are beginning to understand the importance of mental health checkups. However, several myths still surround the condition called bipolar disorder. Keep reading to learn more from the mental health experts at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Suffolk County, NY.

Myth 1: Bipolar Disorder is Rare

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects nearly 6 million Americans over the age of 18. That’s nearly 3 percent of the total US population. To put that in perspective, the population of Los Angeles as of 2018 was 4 million. In other words, more people have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder than live in Los Angeles. The official statistics don’t include those who haven't been diagnosed by a medical professional and are instead struggling with their condition privately. The actual number of people who have bipolar disorder is probably much higher.

Myth 2: Jekyll-Hyde Mood Shifts

When people think of bipolar disorder, they usually imagine frequent and sudden mood shifts. However, the Jekyll-Hyde misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. The two states of bipolar disorder are depression and mania. Mania and depression aren't mutually exclusive. For example, someone with bipolar disorder might have abnormal reactions like laughing at bad news or crying at good news, regardless of their current mood.

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Myth 3: Mania Equates to Happiness

Depression is often associated with feelings of sadness and lethargy. When it comes to mania, however, people assume it means that a person is very happy or easily excited. Mania is considered an elevated mood, but, for some people, it's also a phase characterized by irritability and paranoia. People experiencing mania can have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and controlling their thoughts and actions. They're more likely to make spontaneous and sometimes dangerous decisions like going on a shopping spree or a drinking binge. They're also more prone to taking illicit drugs and making risky choices.

Myth 4: Limited Treatment Options

When it comes to treating bipolar disorder, some people feel their options are limited to medication and psychotherapy. While these are two very important treatment options, there are several therapy methods that patients can employ to help manage their symptoms. Active strategies include exercising to stimulate the production of endorphins, eating healthy, going to bed at the same time every day, and keeping track of your mood through journaling. Writing is therapeutic, and, over time, patients can learn to identify warning signs and triggers once they’ve established a written history.

If you think you may have bipolar disorder, talk to your doctor about your symptoms as soon as possible. Make an appointment with your mental health physician at Peconic Bay Medical Center, the largest medical center in Suffolk County, NY, to develop a treatment plan. Visit https://www.pbmchealth.org to learn more.

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