8 myths about bipolar disorder you shouldn’t believe

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Probably everyone has heard jokes about “bipolar”. Usually they are directed towards a person who, for no reason at all, begins to feel sad, angry, or, conversely, rejoice. But symptoms of bipolar disorder (bipolar disorder) include more than unreasonable mood swings. It’s much more complicated. In the run-up to World Mental Health Day on October 10, popular misconceptions about bipolar disorder have been sorted out. We have prepared this material together with the pharmaceutical company Gedeon Richter, which for several years has been initiating special projects about the life of people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Myth 1: BAR is a split personality

In fact, these are two different diagnoses. Multiple personality disorder is officially called dissociative identity disorder: a person with varying frequencyswitchesfrom one ego state to another. People with such a diagnosis may feel that several personalities coexist in their head at once, which seem to alternately take over control. Each of these characters can have their own story, name, age, character and habits. Other symptoms of dissociative identity disorder include partial memory loss, problems with stress and self-identification.

For bipolar disorder in a person with no apparent external cause happensudden mood swings – from depression to mania or hypomania (this condition resembles mania, but with less pronounced manifestations). During a depressive episode, a person experiences emotional decline, and during a manic episode, maximum mental uplift. This instability affects sleep quality, behavior, ability to act, and decision-making.

Myth 2. Bipolar disorder is a fashionable diagnosis. In fact, his cases are isolated.

Image: Mary Long / Shutterstock

According to various estimates, they face manifestations of bipolar disorder in one form or another. from 2.4 to6.5% of the world’s population. This diagnosis is not easy to make because there is no one simple test or biomarker. Specialistfulfills multi-step clinical assessment: collects a history of mental health, recognizes the severity and duration of symptoms, and monitors the recurrence of episodes.

The sooner the disease is detected, the sooner treatment can be started. With the right regimen, patients can be in permanent remission.

Myth 3. Depressive and manic episodes are cyclical

Not so simple. These periods do not have a schedule: some people with bipolar disorder have them all the time, others once or twice a year. There are gaps in which there are no symptoms at all. Alsomaybea mixed affective state is observed with the simultaneous experience or rapid alternation of symptoms of both manic and depressive spectra. For example, sadness and despair, but at the same time a surge of energy.

Bipolar disorder also has several typeswhich have different symptoms:

  • BAR type I. In this case, manic episodes usually alternate with depressive episodes, but depression is not necessary for diagnosis. Mania lasts from seven days, and sometimes its symptoms are so severe that a person may require hospitalization.
  • BAR type II. Here, on the contrary, depressive episodes are usually experienced. There may be a state of hypomania, but there is never a full-fledged mania.
  • These are chronic changes in conditions. A person for at least two years is constantly in a slight depression, then in hypomania. There are also periods of normal mood, but they last no more than eight weeks.

There are also cases that do not fit the description either under type I or II bipolar disorder, or under cyclothymia, but are also characterized by periodic bright jumps in the emotional state.

Myth 4: Bipolar disorder is simply mood swings.

Bipolar disorder is not limited to one alternation of ups and downs in mood. It seriously affects many aspects of life, from the ability to concentrate to the quality of sleep. During depressive episodes, suicidal thoughts and feelings of guilt are possible, during manic episodes, frightening self-confidence, nervousness and a tendency to risky behavior.

Also, in people with bipolar I or II during episodes may develop concomitant disorders, such as melancholy and psychosis.

Myth 5. People with bipolar disorder cannot work well and have relationships.

Difficulty finding a job is a problem that people with bipolar disorder often face. In fact theyableto cope with the work as well as others, although in some cases they have to try harder to control their thoughts and manifestations of mood. In addition, being busy can help these people increase their self-confidence and make their lives more orderly.

But what kind of work to choose depends on individual preferences, manifestations of episodes and their frequency. For example, it is more convenient for some to deal with projects, for others, constant workload is suitable, and for others, a flexible schedule is needed.

People with bipolar disorder may have romantic and friendlyrelationship. Moreover, the support of friends and partners helps in the treatment. For example, loved ones can make sure that the person regularly takes prescribed medications, remind them to see a specialist, and notice early signs of a manic or depressive episode.

Myth 6. Manic episodes are a period of joy

Image: Mary Long / Shutterstock

This is not always the case. Mania and hypomania can be accompanied by a surge of energy, increased mood, and sometimes even euphoria. But these states have other, less pleasant ones.manifestations…

For example, during manic episodes, people with bipolar disorder may experience irritability or distraction. The need for rest decreases, which makes the general condition of the body worsens. It is difficult for a person to concentrate and make decisions, and can become unusually chatty and agitated.

All this can negatively affect performance, relationships with friends, family and colleagues. If left unattended, manic episodes can develop into psychosis. When a person with BARinformsthat is experiencing hallucinations, or shares strange ideas divorced from reality, an urgent need to consult a specialist.

Myth 7. A person with bipolar disorder will definitely have children with the same diagnosis.

The exact causes of bipolar disorder are unknown. Experts believe that the likelihood of hereditary transmission of the disease is notexcluded, but it is impossible to predict whether this will happen or not. A child from a family with bipolar disorder may not experience the disorder himself.

A more popular version of the onset of the disease is imbalanceneurotransmitters: norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. When the level of norepinephrine goes off scale, mania can ensue, and when it drops, depression occurs.

The manifestation of bipolar disorder can be triggered by periods of acute stress, deep emotional experience, for example, the death of a loved one, drug or alcohol dependence, illness, unstable sleep, serious problems in life. But these factors are not the root cause of the disease: it is just that bipolar disorder does not develop from a couple of sleepless nights or a period of lack of money.

Myth 8. The only way to help people with bipolar disorder is with medication.

Medications such as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers do ableease the course of the disease so that a person can control the manifestations of mania and depression. For each patient, a specialist selects an individual therapy regimen. Sometimes you need to test several combinations of drugs to find the one that works.

But besides drug treatment there is and other ways to manage the symptoms of episodes of illness:

  • Engage in psychotherapy. It helps to understand the nature of emotions, thoughts, changes in behavior and learn how to keep them under control.
  • Find support from loved ones. Friends, relatives and partners can follow a person’s regime, offer him various useful activities, spend time together.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and good sleep have a positive effect on overall health and brain function in particular.

However, none of these methods can guarantee complete recovery from the disorder. Usually people with bipolar disordercollidewith manifestations of the disease throughout life. On the other hand, properly selected drug therapy and a combination of different ways to deal with the disorder can help to achieve lasting remission. In this state, a person with a BAR is able to work quietly, make friends, have romantic relationships, enjoy entertainment – in a word, live life to the fullest.

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