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What Are the Most Common Myths About Bipolar Disorder?

Unfortunately, mental disorders still carry stigma and misconceptions among the general population. This includes many myths about bipolar disorder that people still believe to be true. 1 in 5 people in the United States struggles with a mental health condition. Therefore mental health professionals and researchers continue to educate the public to break the stigmas.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that adversely affects the mood, energy, and cognitive abilities of roughly 7 million US adults and often compares to the unpredictable ups and downs of a roller coaster. 

How Does Bipolar Disorder Occur?

Scientists concentrating specifically on bipolar disorder have not discovered an exact cause for bipolar disorder. However, they do know that genetics are a contributing factor in the development of the condition, but not an absolute. This means that even though there is a family history of bipolar disorder, some in the family may never develop it.

The ability to navigate stress is another component of possible causes. Stressful or traumatic life events may trigger manic or depressive episodes. Finally, there are some differences in brain structure and function of those with bipolar disorder, but they are subtle. Those who experience episodes of mania or hypomania can receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Putting myths about bipolar disorder aside, episodes of mania include feelings of great excitement, extreme happiness, excessive enthusiasm, and hypomania, a less extreme form of this behavior. These episodes are the “highs” people experience with the condition. Lows occur suddenly which include extreme bouts of depression and low feelings. Those with substance use disorders may also experience a mental health condition that requires treatment during recovery. 

What Are Common Myths about Bipolar Disorder?

Misconceptions about bipolar disorder begin with the misunderstanding that the highs and lows of bipolar disorder are just normal mood swings. The mood swings with bipolar disorder are organized symptoms of the condition. Another myth includes the belief that extreme or intense experiences of a good mood are no cause for concern. Extremes with any behavior could be an indication of a problem. 

Other misconceptions revolve around the treatment of bipolar disorder. Antidepressants are not the sole treatment for bipolar disorder. A combination of medications is typically effective for stabilizing moods and can change from time to time. Although bipolar disorder is treatable, it is never curable. Once diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is a lifetime challenge to monitor for successful treatment. 

Bipolar Disorder Facts and Statistics

Some interesting facts about bipolar disorder include the fact that bipolar disorder is not a rare condition. The research concludes that worldwide, 45 million people have a diagnosis of this condition. Mental health professionals continually educate the public with new information to disprove the myths about bipolar disorder.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes an emphasis on diet, exercise, and sufficient sleep is part of the treatment for bipolar disorder. The average age onset of bipolar is typically 28 years. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) describes the 4 types of bipolar disorder as the following:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Individuals who experience one or more episodes of mania but may also experience depression or not. Periods of manic episodes extend at least 7 days and may require hospitalization. 
  • Bipolar II Disorder: Individuals experience depressive episodes going back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but never a full manic episode. 
  • Cyclothymic Disorder or Cyclothymia: Chronically unstable mood state with experiences of hypomania and mild depression for at least 2 years. Brief periods of normal mood states occur, but less than 8 weeks.
  • Bipolar Disorder Other Specified or Unspecified: Significant abnormal mood elevations but does not meet the criteria for any of the other types of bipolar disorder. 

Signs of Undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder

Unfortunately, bipolar disorder may take years to diagnose. Individuals may receive an incorrect diagnosis of schizophrenia if they display psychotic symptoms. Bipolar disorder can be debilitating and adversely affect life. Symptoms can be unpredictable, and the highs and lows can make it hard to pinpoint behavior patterns. 

It is essential to know that the following signs of undiagnosed bipolar disorder can occur and should not be confused with myths about bipolar disorder:

  • Mania, hypomania, and depression
  • Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions
  • Long-term moods of happiness 
  • Rapid mood changes to irritability and impairment of judgment
  • Unusual risky behaviors
  • Sudden reckless behaviors
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Extreme negative thinking

Who Is At Risk for Bipolar Disorder?

Among the common myths about bipolar disorder is that people who receive treatment and begin to feel better can stop taking medication and receiving treatment. Bipolar is a lifelong condition.

People at the highest risk of developing bipolar disorder are those with a first-degree relative who received a diagnosis of the condition. Others who are experiencing high levels of stress. On the other hand, those with a substance use disorder involving either drugs or alcohol are at a higher risk of bipolar disorder. 

Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

Common myths about bipolar disorder and addiction point to the thought after treatment, the individual is cured. This is not true of either condition, substance use disorders or bipolar disorder are lifelong struggles. Another myth revolves around medications.

Treatment medications do not cure addiction or bipolar disorder. People have a tendency to believe that being extremely happy or excited is never a cause for concern. Extreme feelings of happiness are a symptom of substance use disorder and bipolar disorder. 

Bipolar I and II Treatment

Those with a substance use disorder may also be experiencing a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder. When these 2 conditions coincide, a dual diagnosis is made. Treatment for each condition must be a consideration when designing a treatment plan for recovery. It is important to understand the importance of treatment for each condition so the client can leave the myths about bipolar disorder and substance use disorders do not interfere. 

Medication and therapy are effective for bipolar disorder. Understanding how to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regime, and sufficient sleep schedule is essential to maintain recovery for both conditions. Constant monitoring of medications is typical because so many elements affect brain chemistry. It is possible to achieve a happy and productive lifestyle with continual treatment.

Get Dual Diagnosis Support At Tennessee Valley Recovery

Whole-person treatment is essential for the recovery of a dual diagnosis. Tennessee Valley Recovery offers programs to address both substance use disorders and an existing mental health condition. Their supportive staff understands the challenges of healing and recovery.

Contact Tennessee Valley Recovery today to explore their options for treating dual diagnosis.