Bipolar Disorder Explained
Everyone experiences natural ups and downs in mood throughout life, but some encounter a more severe shift caused by a common mental health illness known as Bipolar disorder. It is a form of manic-depressive dysfunction and can be identified by extreme alterations in energy levels and mood that impair an individual’s ability to complete daily tasks. There are multiple categories of Bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year. Even with this widespread impact, proper diagnosis can be difficult as there are currently no specific blood tests or brain scans that explicitly show Bipolar disorder. However, your doctor may still order these tests to rule out other conditions. Once diagnosed, it can take some time to figure out a proper treatment strategy for each person. There are various approaches to treatment such as medication, psychotherapy, and often a combination of these techniques.
Bipolar disorder does not discriminate. All ages, genders, and ethnicities can be affected. The disorder itself and those diagnosed with it are often misunderstood due to a lack of awareness and education on the matter. The fact that it is an invisible illness can also contribute to a lack of understanding from others. Many may believe they are helping by attempting to downplay the situation by making statements like, “You are just overreacting” or “We all feel a little Bipolar at times,” comments like these actually discredit rather than offer support and can tell a person that the feelings they may be struggling with are not valid. Fortunately, despite these challenges, efforts to increase recognition of the importance of mental health have garnered more attention and support in recent years. The best way to support those affected by mental health conditions is to educate yourself to help break stigmas and ask the person and their caretakers the best way to contribute to their support circle.