In order to provide proper care for those who are diagnosed, it is essential to debunk certain myths about the disease. Listed below are three of the most commonly accepted myths on bipolar disorder:
Bipolar disorder is just mood swings; people are being over-dramatic: Perhaps the most insidious of all myths surrounding the disorder is the belief that this is just another term for mood swings.
While everyone experiences the highs and lows of life, bipolar people experience these emotions very differently. People with the disease typically undergo extreme emotions, sometimes for months, without knowing why or having absolutely no trigger at all. Most importantly, these ways of thinking can severely impact their lives, with some people being unable to function in normal society. It is important to remember that what a normal person feels is usually experienced at greater degrees by a bipolar person.
People with bipolar shift back and forth between mania and depression: This is otherwise known as the Jekyll-and-Hyde personality. This is not necessarily the case for most people with bipolar disorder. They do not shift -- like a pendulum -- from sad to euphoric. Each case of bipolar disorder is different, but for the most part, bipolar people will be depressed more often than manic. There are also periods of “rest” where a bipolar person can feel normal and experience typical emotions without being depressed or manic.
Manic people are happy: This can be true for some but not usually for others. The main symptom of mania is an elevated mood, which may or may not mean happiness. In fact, most people undergoing their manic state are often irritable and edgy. Mania is also more dangerous in that people tend to lose control of their thoughts and actions. When mania sets in, bipolar people usually indulge risky behaviors.
Those who are suffering from the disease, or for family members with a loved one with the condition, should always be open about how they feel about the condition. Proper support involves engaged communication between the patient and the family.
Ines Cano Uribe is studying to be a clinical psychologist. For more information, follow this blog.