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Mental illnesses are heavily stigmatized, and common misconceptions often add fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, these 25 shocking myths about bipolar disorder and the stigma of mental illness have been so widely spread that many believe them to be true. I hope to shine a light on the truth and educate people on the stigma of mental illness.
- Myth #1: A Person With a Serious Mental Health Condition Can’t Live a Productive Life
- Myth # 2: Negative Attitudes are Symptoms of Mental Illness
- Myth #3: Mental Health Problems are a Sign of Weakness
- Myth #4: TV shows Have Manic Depression Correct
- Myth #5: A Full-Blown Manic Episode is the Same as a Psychotic Episode
- Myth #6: Manic Episodes are Just Mood Episodes
- Myth #7: Periods of Mania are Always Because of Substance Abuse
- Myth #8: Depressive Episodes Always Involve Suicidal Thoughts
- Myth #9: Support Groups Never Affect Someone in a Negative Way
- Myth #10: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the Only Way to Treat Bipolar Disease
- Myth # 11: You Can’t Be Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder the First Time You Have a Manic Episode
- Myth # 12: Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder are the Same
- Myth #13: Bipolar Symptoms are Just Intense Emotional States
- Myth #14: The General Population is not at Risk for Bipolar Disorder
- Myth #15: Mental Health Professionals Do Not Understand the Bipolar Disorder Experience
- Myth # 16: Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder Always Lead to A Serious Mental Illness
- Myth #17: Rich People are Less Likely to Develop Bipolar Disorder
- Myth #18: Different Types of Bipolar Disorder Don’t Exist
- Myth #19: If You Have Mood Swings, You Have Bipolar Disorder
- Myth #20: Mood Swings are a Less Severe Form of Mania
- Myth #21: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the Only Form of Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
- Myth #22: A Healthcare Provider Can Accurately Diagnose Bipolar Disorder During a Single Appointment.
- Myth #23: Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are Always Unpredictable
- Myth #24: Bipolar Disorder is Caused by Negative Life Experiences
- Myth #25: Disabilities Act Isn’t for Mental Health Issues
- Resources for People With Bipolar Disorder
- Do You Want to Help Stop the Myths Surrounding Bipolar Disorder?
- FAQ’s for Bipolar Disorder
Myth #1: A Person With a Serious Mental Health Condition Can’t Live a Productive Life
Mental illness should not be viewed as an insurmountable obstacle in life. Many people with mental illness can and do lead productive, independent lives. There are countless examples of individuals who have gone on to lead career-oriented lives, forge fulfilling relationships, and experience joy despite dealing with mental illness. Doing so requires effort and often assistance from supportive professionals and loved ones, but it is entirely possible to achieve a high quality of life with mental health issues. People with mental illnesses have so much potential that cannot be squashed by the false notion that they are doomed to be dependent on others.
Myth # 2: Negative Attitudes are Symptoms of Mental Illness
Truth: It’s a common misconception that displaying an adverse attitude means you have a mental illness. Although people with mental illnesses do often experience negative thoughts and feelings, having a bad attitude or outlook on life doesn’t necessarily equate to having a diagnosable disorder. Mental illness is not only characterized by a person’s outlook on life but also their emotions, behavior, general well-being, and relationships with others. Everyone experiences feelings of anger and sadness – it’s important to remember they don’t define our mental health. We all go through difficult times but maintaining a positive attitude can be an effective coping strategy when dealing with personal hardships.
10 Common MYTHS About Bipolar Disorder!
Myth #3: Mental Health Problems are a Sign of Weakness
Mental health issues are no indicator of strength or weakness. In fact, having a mental illness is often an indication of incredible inner resilience, as those dealing with these conditions are able to fight through and manage symptoms in spite of adversity. Unfortunately, many people still have an adverse attitude toward those facing mental health problems, viewing them as weak. It’s time to break the myth that mental illnesses make someone weak—they don’t!
Myth #4: TV shows Have Manic Depression Correct
Television shows represent inaccurate and damaging stereotypes regarding Manic Depression, often portraying it in a negative light. This creates fear and misunderstanding, which can prevent people from seeking help or support if they are in need. It is essential to break through these negative stereotypes and create understanding, compassion, and acceptance of this mental health condition. It is critical to spread awareness about the real challenges of living with manic depression so that everyone has access to the right resources and help when needed.
Myth #5: A Full-Blown Manic Episode is the Same as a Psychotic Episode
People often think a manic episode and a psychotic episode are the same things, but this is a myth. While they can have similar qualities, such as extended periods of agitation or excitement, mania is an extreme form of euphoria, while psychosis involves hallucinations and disorganized thinking. A manic episode usually happens over several days and doesn’t involve serious medical conditions. Psychosis, however, can last months and can lead to serious complications if not treated properly. Knowing the difference between these two is important because it allows people to seek effective treatment and avoid dangerous situations.
Myth #6: Manic Episodes are Just Mood Episodes
Contrary to popular belief, manic episodes are more than just mood episodes. These episodes can cause symptoms such as restlessness, impulsiveness, and euphoria that go beyond normal highs and lows of emotion. Manic episodes result in major changes in a person’s mood, which differ from the emotions of everyday life. This disorder impacts people differently and can often be treated with therapy and medications. Awareness of manic episodes is important for helping those struggling with this condition.
Myth #7: Periods of Mania are Always Because of Substance Abuse
Despite what many may think, not all manic periods are always caused by substance use. Mania can be brought on by genetics, low levels of key neurotransmitters in the brain, or difficult home life. Although sometimes substances like drugs or alcohol can play a role in manic episodes, they do not cause them every time. It is important to understand the varied causes of mania in order to best treat each individual case and provide helpful support.
Myth #8: Depressive Episodes Always Involve Suicidal Thoughts
Contrary to popular belief, not all depression episodes involve suicidal thoughts. People with depression experience feelings of sadness, loneliness, emptiness, and worthlessness that can affect many aspects of their lives without them ever having suicidality. It is important to remember that depressive episodes do not always equal a desire to end one’s life; there are various options for how an episode can manifest itself. Even if those affected by depression don’t experience suicidal thoughts, it does not minimize the gravity of their struggle or the importance of seeking help when needed.
Myth #9: Support Groups Never Affect Someone in a Negative Way
Support groups can be great resources of emotional support but they shouldn’t replace professional help. Despite the potential benefits, joining a support group isn’t always a positive experience. The conflict between members and bad advice can create new problems. Participants should talk to their doctor or therapist before signing up for any type of support group. While support groups may not be for everyone, research shows that joining one can promote physical and mental healing in many situations.
Myth #10: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the Only Way to Treat Bipolar Disease
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an important treatment used to manage the bipolar disease. However, it is not the only option available. Medication, counseling, mindfulness-based interventions, and lifestyle changes can also be helpful in easing symptoms like depression and mood swings. Psychiatrists specializing in mental health may devise a tailored program for individuals with bipolar disorder that works best for their needs. It’s important to remember that not all treatments are effective for everyone, so finding the right combination of therapies may require trial and error.
Myth # 11: You Can’t Be Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder the First Time You Have a Manic Episode
Contrary to popular belief, bipolar disorder can be diagnosed the first time you experience a manic episode. Bipolar disorder is usually associated with fluctuations in mood, energy, and activity levels. When people experience a manic episode, they may have increased activity levels and irritability. A mental health professional can diagnose inflammatory conditions like bipolar disorder when enough symptoms are present and other medical conditions have been ruled out. With proper care and treatment, adults living with bipolar disorder can live full and healthy lives. Here’s another fact: some people with bipolar only have one manic episode in their entire life!
Myth # 12: Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder are the Same
Do you think that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar Disorder (BD) are the same? That’s a Myth! They are different psychological disorders, and share some similar symptoms, but have totally different treatments. BD is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, while BPD affects emotions and behavior control. Knowing the difference helps doctors provide the best treatment for mental health issues. Don’t take chances with your health–make sure your doctor knows you’re looking for targeted therapy for either BD or BPD.
Myth #13: Bipolar Symptoms are Just Intense Emotional States
Bipolar disorder does much more than cause intense emotional states. The condition is an oft-misunderstood mental health problem that swings between periods of mania and depression. It’s important to recognize the signs of bipolar disorder before it progresses, as it can have serious implications on a person’s day-to-day life. These signs include extreme changes in mood, energy levels and behavior, as well as suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Professional care is key in managing bipolar disorder, as proper diagnosis and treatment can lead to improved well-being.
Myth #14: The General Population is not at Risk for Bipolar Disorder
Despite what many people may think, everyone in the general population is at risk of developing bipolar disorder. While factors like age and family history can increase the likelihood of a person developing bipolar disorder, anyone – regardless of those factors – can potentially experience this condition. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder so that you can receive early intervention if necessary. Education and support materials are available to help those suffering from bipolar disorder, making it easier than ever to take control of this condition.
Myth #15: Mental Health Professionals Do Not Understand the Bipolar Disorder Experience
It is a myth that mental health professionals do not understand the bipolar disorder experience. In fact, these professionals are often highly trained and have personal and/or academic experience with this disorder. They understand the diverse symptoms that can come with being bipolar. Mental health professionals use their knowledge to assist people in managing their symptoms and creating strategies to live life to the fullest. Mental health professionals also create plans tailored to each individual’s unique needs, taking into account the various environmental factors that can affect bipolar disorder. With their expertise and experience, they provide the best possible care for those living with bipolar disorder.
Myth # 16: Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder Always Lead to A Serious Mental Illness
Bipolar disorder can be a very confusing and complex mental illness. Unfortunately, widespread misconceptions about the disorder often lead to inaccurate information about its symptoms and potential outcomes. Myth # 16 is that symptoms of bipolar disorder always leads to a serious mental illness. This is untrue – bipolar disorder manifests differently from person to person and not all cases are considered serious. If a person is experiencing bipolar signs, they may benefit from seeking treatment in order to better understand their diagnosis and how best to manage their symptoms.
Myth #17: Rich People are Less Likely to Develop Bipolar Disorder
Despite the myth that claims those who are better off financially are less likely to develop bipolar disorder, research has actually shown the opposite. Studies have demonstrated a correlation between those with lower incomes and an increased likelihood for developing bipolar disorder. Although financial status does not necessarily trigger bipolar disorder in an individual, it does appear to be linked in some way. For example, stressors related to income may influence vulnerability to this mental health condition. It is important to note that anyone can potentially develop bipolar disorder regardless of their financial standing.
Myth #18: Different Types of Bipolar Disorder Don’t Exist
When it comes to bipolar disorder, many think it falls into one type—manic and depression. The truth is there are actually 4 types that include:
- Bipolar I disorder
- Bipolar II disorder
- Cyclothymic disorder
- Unspecified bipolar disorders
How someone experiences the symptoms of each type can range from mild to severe. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis so treatment can be tailored accordingly. With a proper diagnosis based on symptoms, this serious mental health condition can be effectively managed.
Myth #19: If You Have Mood Swings, You Have Bipolar Disorder
This myth is very commonly seen in the media, but it’s not entirely accurate. Mood swings can be related to other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. However, having episodes of extreme fluctuations in mood or activities do not necessarily mean a person has bipolar disorder. It’s important to speak to your doctor if you feel your mood swings are affecting your daily life, as they will help you determine an appropriate diagnosis and make sure you get any necessary help.
Myth #20: Mood Swings are a Less Severe Form of Mania
Contrary to myth, mood swings are not a less severe form of mania. Instead, they’re an emotional state that varies between highs and lows over time. These “highs” can include euphoria and excitement while the “lows” often cause deep depression. As these changes in mood happen more often or are more severe, it could be a sign of bipolar disorder – something that should be discussed with a healthcare provider if symptoms become concerning.
Myth #21: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the Only Form of Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a significant mental health challenge not easily solved. Forms of therapy that are use to treat it are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPT-SR)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Through these therapies, experts are able to support people in managing their symptoms and improving their quality of life. Whether new treatments or ones based on established best practices, the right treatment can give patients a helping hand in managing bipolar disorder.
Myth #22: A Healthcare Provider Can Accurately Diagnose Bipolar Disorder During a Single Appointment.
Contradicting a popular myth, correctly diagnosing bipolar disorder is complex and involves multiple steps. A healthcare provider typically conducts detailed assessments including a review of physical health, history of behavior and mood swings, as well as close monitoring over time. It’s important to realize that this process may take multiple appointments before the correct diagnosis can be determined. Relying on a single appointment to make an accurate assessment can lead to misdiagnosis or further difficulties for patients in the long-term.
Myth #23: Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are Always Unpredictable
Many people may think that the symptoms of bipolar disorder follow a random, unpredictable pattern, but this is actually not always the case. In fact, most people with the condition experience episodes that come and go in distinct cycles through phases of mania and depression. While understanding the cycle is not easy, many individuals can recognize when changes in mood are about to start and then manage their own symptoms by adapting what they do each day or seeking medical help as necessary. With proper help and awareness, individuals can often cope with bipolar disorder effectively while still leading active lives.
Myth #24: Bipolar Disorder is Caused by Negative Life Experiences
Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health disorder that isn’t caused by any one factor, like negative life experiences. Instead, multiple aspects are involved in its development, including biological and genetic factors, environmental stressors, and even family dynamics. It’s also important to note that not everyone who has a traumatic experience will develop bipolar disorder — in fact, many people have extremely difficult or even traumatic life events and do not get affected. Bipolar disorder is treatable with the right combination of therapy and medication, leading to improved functioning for those who suffer from it. Taking the first step of getting help can lead to a better quality of life.
Myth #25: Disabilities Act Isn’t for Mental Health Issues
Many people are under the false impression that the Disabilities Act does not directly help those who suffer from mental health issues, but that couldn’t be more wrong. The Act was designed to protect those with all types of disabilities, which includes legal protection for individuals with physical and mental health illnesses. Everyone deserves the basic right to live without fear of discrimination based on their condition and this Act accomplishes just that and more.
10 Bipolar Depression Myths
Resources for People With Bipolar Disorder
Maintaining mental health is key for people with bipolar disorder, and there are helpful resources they can access online.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website offers support to those living with bipolar disorder, as well as their loved ones.
- The American Psychiatric Association provides a comprehensive list of treatments and medications available to cope with the symptoms and effects of bipolar disorder.
- NIMH aims to provide accurate information on diagnosis and treatment options.
- MayoClinic offers lifestyle tips and advice from experts in the medical field to manage mood swings during each cycle of bipolar disorder.
- DBSA works to provide national support networks for those affected by the illness, as well as connect individuals in need of a listening ear or guidance from peers that understand their condition and experience first-hand.
Want more myths? Read 17 Myths About Raising a Special Needs Child because you need to read #8. Just want more? Read 53 Hilarious Anxiety Memes to Ease Your Mind because laughter really is the best medicine. Want more about bipolar? Read The Chains Of Bipolar Disorder: What it is and How to Deal With it because knowledge is power!
Do You Want to Help Stop the Myths Surrounding Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a misunderstood condition. Let’s spread awareness, and help break the stigma! Take two minutes to share this article so that others can learn about bipolar disorder. The more people know about this disorder, the better-informed decisions we can all make. Help us create a better understanding and acceptance of those who live with this condition each day. Join us in taking action!
FAQ’s for Bipolar Disorder
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that can result in difficulty carrying out day-to-day activities.
How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder typically involves a physical exam, psychological assessment, laboratory tests, and a review of symptoms. It’s important to seek medical help if you suspect you may have the condition.
Are There Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?
Yes, there are different types of bipolar disorder that range from mild to severe: Bipolar I Disorder; Bipolar II Disorder; Cyclothymic Disorder; Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder; and Mixed Episodes.
What Treatments Are Available for Bipolar Disorder?
Treatment plans typically involve a combination of lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and medications such as mood stabilizers or antipsychotics. Working with a mental health professional can help you develop the best possible plan to manage your condition.