5 Myths and Facts About Bipolar Disorder
Due in part to the awareness spread from diagnosis, there has been an increase in the number of people who are familiar with the basics of bipolar disorder. However, myths on the condition still commonly exist amongst patients and the public. Below we have included 5 common topics of misconception surrounding this disorder.
Myth or Fact: Understanding Bipolar Disorder
1. Bipolar disorder is a combination of mental health issues.
Fact. Someone who suffers from bipolar disorder has mood swings connected to 3 of these following categories: mania, depression, and mixed state. Mania is categorized by a heightened state of emotions. Depression is a state of sadness. A mixed state is a combination of the two, and possibly the most difficult to cope with.
2. People with bipolar disorder are always crazy or moody.
Myth. People with the disorder experience episodes of highs and lows for weeks or months but often these episodes are separated by a time (sometimes long, sometimes short) of mental stability.
Often, you can see signs of an episode coming on and if you are cognizant of the individual’s emotional triggers you may be able to better cope with mood swing episodes.
Episodes of depression are often easier to catch than signs of mania. If the individual is experiencing an episode of mania, they may display signs (heightened view of self, restlessness, racing speech and thoughts, agitation, short attention span, poor judgment) for a week or more.
3. Mania or Bipolar Disorder symptoms burn out as a person enters old age.
Myth. Though at an older age cognitive slowing is a common symptom of bipolar disorder, age has very little to do with the symptoms list experienced by someone who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In fact, an episode of mania for a geriatric patient can result in stronger effects of delusion and cognitive problems that would require them to receive more care. Episodes may require them to give up some independence so they don’t make ill-advised decisions. The disorder can cause them to believe untrue things with such conviction that the choices they make could put their health at risk. Some things, such as believing that Elvis wishes to marry them can be much less threatening than believing that their medicine is making them sleep, so they stop taking it.
4. Accepting further mental and physical care can help restore independence.
Fact. Getting the care they need may increase their independence by helping them recover and develop skills to continue living a normal life.
No, being bipolar is not a choice; it is a mental illness, like any health condition. Going without care can result in deterioration into even worse symptoms from the mental disorder.
Recovery can be achieved through educating oneself, seeking medical help and knowledge, medication, and adoption of a lifestyle that will aid recovery (less stress, more sleep, exercise).
5. Mania is characterized by crazy behavior and being super-happy.
Myth. Seniors often experience mania differently. Instead of feeling on top of the world, they often feel agitation, irritability, confusion, and/or disorientation.
More often than not, manic episodes in geriatric patients experience a state of irritable depression that can be very debilitating to cognitive function, interpersonal relationships, and judgment. The manic episodes can cause quite a bit of friction between the senior and their loved ones or caregivers.