October 13, 2022
  •  
  •  
Mental Health

Fighting Against Mental Health Stigmas: Bipolar Disorder

Fighting Against Mental Health Stigmas: Bipolar Disorder

Fighting Against Mental Health Stigmas: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is often misunderstood and stigmatized. People with bipolar disorder can have periods of intense energy, called manic episodes, followed by periods of depression. Bipolar disorder is a serious condition that can be difficult to manage, but it is possible to live a full and healthy life with the right treatment. Mental health stigma is the negative attitudes and beliefs that people have towards mental illness. This stigma can make it difficult for people to seek help, get diagnosed, and receive treatment. Mental health stigma is a problem because it leads to discrimination, isolation, and shame. Fighting against mental health stigmas can be difficult, but it is important to speak out and educate others about mental illness. When we de-stigmatize mental illness, we make it easier for people to get the help they need and live full lives.

What are the signs of bipolar disorder?

Clinical social worker and Psychotherapist Caroline Browne of Kente Therapy Space explains in greater detail what the signs of bipolar disorder are. "Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a lifelong chronic illness requiring a clinical diagnosis to categorize the type. It is a brain disorder, and the individual may experience high energy, activity, severe mood shifts, reduced need for sleep, grandiose beliefs, and difficulties with the ability to complete ordinary tasks consistently. The types of bipolar disorder range from elation "highs" or energized mood, otherwise known as mania, to sadness and hopelessness, described as a depressive cycle or episode. The less severe presentation of mania is called hypomania. The signs of this mood disorder feature one or more episodes of depression for at least two weeks. Manic symptoms can also occur at the same time for at least seven days."

For further elaboration Caroline explains in severe instances "knowing that some medical conditions can produce hyperactive behaviors is also essential for proper intervention. Certain substances consumed may look like euphoria, agitation, and irritability, leading to impairment. Some people can experience self-importance and grandiose or bizarre behaviors but are not a danger to themselves or others and do not reach the need for hospitalization. However, keep in mind In the very worst situations, individuals can experience  psychosis, a break with reality." 

Common misconceptions about bipolar disorder

One of the most common misconceptions about bipolar disorders is that people with the condition are always "crazy." This is not true, and people with bipolar disorder can have normal moods and live normal lives. Another common misconception is that bipolar disorder is caused by a person's environment or upbringing. This is also untrue, and bipolar disorder is a neurological disorder that affects the brain. Caroline continues to provide the following misconceptions:

False- Once someone leaves the hospital and is stable, they can stop their medication and do not need to follow up with their treatment.

 "Bipolar disorder is a treatable condition needing medical care. Without treatment, this illness gets worse. Monitoring symptoms to ensure the individual receives the necessary care and becomes aware of warning signs is vital for a healthy life."

 

False - Mood swings are fun or exciting

"Often after a depressive episode, people begin to experience an upswing, these mood swings can become unpredictable, resulting in setbacks that can have long-lasting effects, sexual risks, legal or financial problems, overspending, insurmountable debt, job loss, family and relationship issues can leave the individual experiencing guilt, shame, or regret."

 

False- Sign of spiritual or character weakness or personal flaw

"An equal number of men and women develop bipolar disorder. The exact cause of the illness is unknown; however, it is thought to be linked to the balance of brain chemicals. Bipolar disorder is found in all ages, races, ethnic and social groups. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), a gender bias exists. Women are more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression, and men are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. (DBSA, 2000)"

When to seek help

Caroline notes that "It's time to seek help when functioning for the individual is severely impaired in all areas social, work, and relationships. Hospitalization for safety and protection is often needed to treat the signs of severe impairment. It’s hard to ignore unusual behaviors, diminished need for sleep, racing thoughts, rapid shifts in energy level, fast - constant talking, laughing, and intense emotion, and can be upsetting and stressful to witness. Feelings of sadness and hopelessness can also place the person at greater risk of self-harm. Talk of death and preparation for dying should be taken seriously as individuals with bipolar disorder experience a higher rate of death by suicide, and up to 50% will attempt suicide during episodes of depression- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)"

 

When diagnosed with bipolar disorder, here's how to move forward.

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is important to continue seeking treatment and support. This can be a difficult time, but it is important to remember that bipolar disorder is a treatable condition. There are many resources available to help you manage bipolar disorder, including medication, therapy, and self-help groups. You can also connect with other people who are living with bipolar disorder through online forums and support groups. Caroline shares tips on how to live life to the fullest. "It's essential to remain connected and consult with your healthcare provider to receive continuity of treatment while doing the following:

  • Maintain a regular and consistent sleep schedule
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol because the brain already has difficulty with self-regulation. Exercise is a much better natural mood enhancer.
  • Maintain connections with your friends and family, make new friends, or try out new activities such as dance, art, pottery, volunteering, bookclub.
  • Take medication as prescribed by your medical provider; take it at the same time each day.
  • Exercise daily. Even a 15-30 min walk helps you can also try yoga and meditation for mind and body balance.
  • Eat well and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Check out National Alliance on Mental Illness - (NAMI) and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) for further resources, support, and tools. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, there are resources available to help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides support, education, and advocacy for people with mental illness and their loved ones. NAMI also offers a helpline that can provide you with information and resources: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). 988 Suicide & Crisis Life Line can also provide resources and referrals. If you are at imminent risk and can act on a plan to kill or hurt yourself or others, 911 and emergency personnel may be called to save your life. If you are connected to an outpatient clinic, you can ask your mental health provider for a list of recommended warm lines, emergency numbers, and a safety plan.

Caroline Browne
Expert
Caroline Browne

Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist -LCSW-R, CASAC-T

Fighting Against Mental Health Stigmas: Bipolar Disorder
October 13, 2022
  •  
  •  
Mental Health

Fighting Against Mental Health Stigmas: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is often misunderstood and stigmatized. People with bipolar disorder can have periods of intense energy, called manic episodes, followed by periods of depression. Bipolar disorder is a serious condition that can be difficult to manage, but it is possible to live a full and healthy life with the right treatment. Mental health stigma is the negative attitudes and beliefs that people have towards mental illness. This stigma can make it difficult for people to seek help, get diagnosed, and receive treatment. Mental health stigma is a problem because it leads to discrimination, isolation, and shame. Fighting against mental health stigmas can be difficult, but it is important to speak out and educate others about mental illness. When we de-stigmatize mental illness, we make it easier for people to get the help they need and live full lives.

What are the signs of bipolar disorder?

Clinical social worker and Psychotherapist Caroline Browne of Kente Therapy Space explains in greater detail what the signs of bipolar disorder are. "Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a lifelong chronic illness requiring a clinical diagnosis to categorize the type. It is a brain disorder, and the individual may experience high energy, activity, severe mood shifts, reduced need for sleep, grandiose beliefs, and difficulties with the ability to complete ordinary tasks consistently. The types of bipolar disorder range from elation "highs" or energized mood, otherwise known as mania, to sadness and hopelessness, described as a depressive cycle or episode. The less severe presentation of mania is called hypomania. The signs of this mood disorder feature one or more episodes of depression for at least two weeks. Manic symptoms can also occur at the same time for at least seven days."

For further elaboration Caroline explains in severe instances "knowing that some medical conditions can produce hyperactive behaviors is also essential for proper intervention. Certain substances consumed may look like euphoria, agitation, and irritability, leading to impairment. Some people can experience self-importance and grandiose or bizarre behaviors but are not a danger to themselves or others and do not reach the need for hospitalization. However, keep in mind In the very worst situations, individuals can experience  psychosis, a break with reality." 

Common misconceptions about bipolar disorder

One of the most common misconceptions about bipolar disorders is that people with the condition are always "crazy." This is not true, and people with bipolar disorder can have normal moods and live normal lives. Another common misconception is that bipolar disorder is caused by a person's environment or upbringing. This is also untrue, and bipolar disorder is a neurological disorder that affects the brain. Caroline continues to provide the following misconceptions:

False- Once someone leaves the hospital and is stable, they can stop their medication and do not need to follow up with their treatment.

 "Bipolar disorder is a treatable condition needing medical care. Without treatment, this illness gets worse. Monitoring symptoms to ensure the individual receives the necessary care and becomes aware of warning signs is vital for a healthy life."

 

False - Mood swings are fun or exciting

"Often after a depressive episode, people begin to experience an upswing, these mood swings can become unpredictable, resulting in setbacks that can have long-lasting effects, sexual risks, legal or financial problems, overspending, insurmountable debt, job loss, family and relationship issues can leave the individual experiencing guilt, shame, or regret."

 

False- Sign of spiritual or character weakness or personal flaw

"An equal number of men and women develop bipolar disorder. The exact cause of the illness is unknown; however, it is thought to be linked to the balance of brain chemicals. Bipolar disorder is found in all ages, races, ethnic and social groups. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), a gender bias exists. Women are more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression, and men are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. (DBSA, 2000)"

When to seek help

Caroline notes that "It's time to seek help when functioning for the individual is severely impaired in all areas social, work, and relationships. Hospitalization for safety and protection is often needed to treat the signs of severe impairment. It’s hard to ignore unusual behaviors, diminished need for sleep, racing thoughts, rapid shifts in energy level, fast - constant talking, laughing, and intense emotion, and can be upsetting and stressful to witness. Feelings of sadness and hopelessness can also place the person at greater risk of self-harm. Talk of death and preparation for dying should be taken seriously as individuals with bipolar disorder experience a higher rate of death by suicide, and up to 50% will attempt suicide during episodes of depression- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)"

 

When diagnosed with bipolar disorder, here's how to move forward.

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is important to continue seeking treatment and support. This can be a difficult time, but it is important to remember that bipolar disorder is a treatable condition. There are many resources available to help you manage bipolar disorder, including medication, therapy, and self-help groups. You can also connect with other people who are living with bipolar disorder through online forums and support groups. Caroline shares tips on how to live life to the fullest. "It's essential to remain connected and consult with your healthcare provider to receive continuity of treatment while doing the following:

  • Maintain a regular and consistent sleep schedule
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol because the brain already has difficulty with self-regulation. Exercise is a much better natural mood enhancer.
  • Maintain connections with your friends and family, make new friends, or try out new activities such as dance, art, pottery, volunteering, bookclub.
  • Take medication as prescribed by your medical provider; take it at the same time each day.
  • Exercise daily. Even a 15-30 min walk helps you can also try yoga and meditation for mind and body balance.
  • Eat well and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Check out National Alliance on Mental Illness - (NAMI) and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) for further resources, support, and tools. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, there are resources available to help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides support, education, and advocacy for people with mental illness and their loved ones. NAMI also offers a helpline that can provide you with information and resources: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). 988 Suicide & Crisis Life Line can also provide resources and referrals. If you are at imminent risk and can act on a plan to kill or hurt yourself or others, 911 and emergency personnel may be called to save your life. If you are connected to an outpatient clinic, you can ask your mental health provider for a list of recommended warm lines, emergency numbers, and a safety plan.

Caroline Browne
Expert Referenced
Caroline Browne

Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist -LCSW-R, CASAC-T

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