Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that affects mood, and millions of people live with it worldwide. It’s common to see bipolar disorder portrayed negatively in society and media. It can frighten many people, who may put off seeking help because they are afraid of a diagnosis. Some may even live in denial, unwilling to even entertain the thought they may have a mental health disorder. This is dangerous and prevents many people from seeking life-saving treatment.
It’s important to know that despite a diagnosis, you still matter as a person. We need to dismantle the stigma around bipolar disorder, not only to encourage those to seek help but to reassure those that live with it that they are worthy of care and respect. The best way to combat this stigma is through education and raising public awareness about this disorder. This blog will discuss how people living with bipolar disorder can live happy and productive lives and what you can do to help those you love with this disorder.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder that causes people to experience the following:
- Highly elevated moods called mania
- Less severe mood elevations, also known as hypomania
- Episodes of depression
Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are three types of bipolar disorder that someone may be diagnosed with.
#1. Bipolar I Disorder
This group experiences manic episodes that last for at least seven days. These manic episodes are sometimes severe enough that the individual may need hospital care. They may also have depressive or hypomania episodes before or after their manic episodes. Men and women can both be diagnosed with bipolar I disorder.
#2. Bipolar II Disorder
Those with bipolar II disorder experience depressive and hypomanic episodes in a pattern. These hypomanic episodes are less severe than manic episodes in bipolar I disorder. Depressive episodes can last for weeks, and hypomanic episodes for days. Additionally, women are more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder than men.
#3. Cyclothymia Disorder
Individuals can have both depressive and hypomanic symptoms. This is known as cyclothymia disorder. These symptoms are much shorter and less severe than those with bipolar I and II, so they are not considered full episodes.
Most people are diagnosed in their teens or twenties, but bipolar disorder can develop at any age. As for what causes bipolar disorder, several factors are believed to be the culprit. Some experts believe some people may have an abnormality in their brain structure that can put them at higher risk.
There could be a genetic risk factor as well, as you are more likely to develop bipolar disorder if there is a member of your family that already has it. Sometimes trauma, substance abuse, and traumatic brain injuries can alter the brain chemistry in a way that causes someone to develop bipolar disorder.
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
When people experience a manic episode, they might feel invincible or incredibly excited. This can often result in risky and dangerous behaviors. When someone has a depressive episode, they may feel tired and hopeless, which may cause them to isolate themselves from friends or family. Because of these extreme mood swings, it can be challenging to go to school, hold a job, or maintain relationships with loved ones.
Bipolar disorder is treated through a combination of:
- Lifestyle changes
How to Live With Bipolar Disorder
Just because someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder doesn’t mean they cannot live a happy and healthy life. It may be a chronic condition, but it can be managed through several types of treatments. People who live with bipolar disorder can control their disorder through the use of therapy and medication. Making life changes can also improve well-being.
An example of a life change is getting used to asking others for help. It can be difficult to get used to the idea, but asking for help is an important skill to learn. You cannot do everything by yourself, and having people you love and trust to lean on when times are hard can help immensely.
Another example is to establish a clear daily routine. People who have a clear idea of when they will eat, sleep, and participate in activities are better able to predict their moods. Another important skill a person may learn is how to recognize when they may experience a mood swing or episode. Doing this helps them lessen the negative impact they experience, allowing them to do what they love and enjoy.
It may seem tiresome to keep up with treatments, skills, and medications. However, this is just a small part of life compared to the joy that someone can experience. It’s important to focus on that aspect and do your best to find things that make you happy. You must accept that you have this disorder and that it doesn’t make you any less worthy as a person. Despite everything, you are still worthy of love and care like anyone else.
How You Can Help
The best way to help those that struggle with bipolar disorder is to de-stigmatize it. If you see someone mocking someone for having this disorder or spreading harmful stereotypes about it, call them out on it. It’s essential to protect those that are vulnerable in our society from those that wish to harm them.
It is also important to change the way you talk and act regarding mental health disorders. Avoid using terms such as “crazy” to describe someone with a mental health disorder. Understand that these are people who have real struggles and are doing the best they can.
If you know someone with bipolar disorder, offer them your support. Encourage them to seek help if they haven’t, and be there to listen to their problems. These are small ways to help, but they can make a big difference in someone’s life.
Many people in the world today live with bipolar disorder. Even though a person may have this mental health disorder, they can still live happy and healthy lives. This can be done by reaching out for and receiving treatment and learning essential life skills and coping mechanisms to help navigate your disorder. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we take pride in providing high-quality treatment for those that need it most. It doesn’t matter what mental health disorder you have; you still deserve compassion and care. If you or someone you love is struggling with bipolar disorder or any other mental health disorder, call Acera Health at (949) 647-4090 today.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.