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World Bipolar Day: Common Misconceptions about Bipolar Disorder

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

“At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
-Carrie Fisher

The hope and vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to the world about bipolar disorder. This mood disorder affects nearly 3% of the adult U.S. population each year.

Bipolar Day (WBD) is celebrated each year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.

This year, a different light is shed on World Bipolar Day, as the world comes together to fight the coronavirus pandemic, that it is vital for individuals struggling with bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders to practice self-care, now more than ever.

Bipolar disorder is generally misunderstood as a disorder of rapidly alternating moods that cycle between deep sadness to extraordinary happiness. However, this common mood disorder is much more complicated than the assumed emotional labile rollercoaster that our society believes.

The following are common misconceptions associated with bipolar disorder:
Misconception #1: Mania is enjoyable and productive

Mania is one of the defining characteristics of bipolar disorder and is characterized as having distractibility, irresponsibility, pressured speech, flight of ideas, and increased energy. Many individuals assume that mania is enjoyable and productive, and although many people do have a lot of energy and feel good during this phase, they often are overloaded with stress and experience very uncomfortable and unpleasant experiences and feelings. Many individuals may feel restless and out of control, and after this manic phase, they quickly become exhausted and even more stressed.
Misconception #2: Bipolar disorder is another term for extreme moodiness

Many individuals assume that bipolar disorder is characterized by ricocheting moods. One second, an individual is manic, and the next, they are depressed. As a result of this misconception, many individuals believe that individuals with bipolar disorder are extremely moody. The fact is that individuals with bipolar disorder do not have ricocheting moods, but rather may experience mania or hypomania once or twice a year and experience one or two episodes of depression within that same year.
Misconception #3: Bipolar disorder is similar to multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder)

Dissociative identity disorder occurs when a person experiences past trauma, and the individual shuts off or “dissociates” himself from a violent or stressful situation. Dissociation identity disorder is a coping mechanism for interpersonal stressors, and as a result, the individual develops at least two distinct personality states. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by periods of mania and depression and is treated with medication.
Misconception #4: Bipolar disorder sparks creativity

Many authors, artists, and creatives have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and as a result, many individuals believe that seeking treatment for this mood disorder will hinder their creative genius. The truth is that many individuals with bipolar disorder do not experience clear thought patterns. Seeking treatment for bipolar disorder allows individuals to be more organized in their thoughts and expressions, allowing them more time to produce creative work.
There is hope: seeking treatment for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is treatable with the correct combination of medications and psychotherapy. It is important to speak honestly about your symptoms with your doctor or therapist so they can help you figure out a treatment plan.

AKUA Mind & Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for clients struggling with a mental illness or substance use disorders. We also treat co-occurring disorders and work diligently with each client and their family to ensure that treatment is specifically tailored to their needs. AKUA Mind & Body offers detoxification, intensive residential treatment programs, and outpatient treatment programs all in a safe and healthy facility.

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