Bipolar disorder affects about 4% of American adults, and unfortunately, many myths surround this mental health condition. Take a minute to separate fact from fiction as we set the record straight.

Everyone experiences times when they feel up and periods when they feel down. But if your lows seem especially low or if your highs seem especially high, it could be a sign of bipolar disorder, a mood-affecting mental health condition that impacts about 4% of American adults.

Unfortunately, many myths surround this condition, which is characterized by mood cycles that can last for days or weeks. These stereotypes can make it difficult to get the help you need and may make it more challenging for your loved ones to understand your condition.

That’s what makes getting help from a psychiatric professional, like the team of mental and behavioral health specialists at Peace, Hope & Harmony, Inc., so important. At our practice in Midlothian, Texas, our practitioners offer expert bipolar disorder diagnosis and management.

MYTH: All cases of bipolar disorder are the same

FACT: Not all cases of bipolar disorder are the same.

While there are some shared characteristics of the disorder, everyone with bipolar disorder experiences it in different ways. This means that bipolar differs between people in terms of symptoms and severity.

There are also different types of bipolar disorder, each with their own unique symptoms and presentations. These include:

Bipolar I

With this type of bipolar disorder, mania is the primary presenting problem. The mania is typically extreme, causing dramatic mood swings that can lead to very risky or dangerous behavior, delusions, or psychosis. Depression is also typically severe.

Bipolar II

With this type of bipolar disorder, often called hypomania, major depression is the primary presenting problem. There may be some symptoms of mania, but they’re usually less extreme and don’t last as long.

Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is a less common type of bipolar disorder, also called cyclothymia. With this presentation, people regularly shift between hypomania and depression and have less dramatic symptoms followed by periods of stable mood.

MYTH: Mood swings are the only symptom of bipolar

FACT: Bipolar disorder does cause mood swings, but that is only one symptom of the disorder. 

Mood swings, or shifting between elevated moods and depressed moods, is a part of bipolar disorder. But depending on the type of bipolar disorder, the symptoms may be subtle or different that the “crazy highs” or suicidal lows depicted by the media.

Here’s a closer look at some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder:

Symptoms associated with manic episodes

Mania is a period of having an abnormally elevated mood, an abnormally irritable mood, or unusually high amounts of energy for a week or longer. Some common signs of mania include:

  • Not needing as much sleep
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Feeling jumpy, restless, or impulsive
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Talking very fast or changing topics quickly
  • Feeling wired, extremely happy, or “high”
  • Not feeling hungry/weight loss
  • Feeling invincible
  • Feeling of grandiosity
  • Engaging in risky behaviors (e.g., impulsive sex, spending money, substance use)

Keep in mind that with some types of bipolar disorder, these manic symptoms may present as hypomania, meaning they’re milder and don’t last as long.

Symptoms associated with depressive episodes

The depressive period involves low mood and other symptoms of depression for long periods, which may include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or down
  • Problems with decision making, concentrating, or memory
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Struggling to carry out normal activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling fatigued or lack of energy
  • Talking slowly or feeling slow
  • Sleeping troubles

Sometimes people with bipolar disorder think about death during depressive periods. They may even have suicidal ideation or become suicidal.

MYTH: There’s only one treatment for bipolar disorder

FACT: Different treatments exist for all types of bipolar disorder.

At Peace, Hope & Harmony, Inc., your provider first assesses your symptoms, mental health history, and overall health record to accurately diagnose your condition. With this information, we then create a personalized bipolar treatment plan based on your specific needs and preferences.

Bipolar disorder treatments often include medications, but these can vary depending on your unique symptoms and diagnosis. For example, some bipolar disorder patients may take mood stabilizers while others take antidepressants, and some may take both.

The most effective bipolar disorder treatment plans usually involve an integrated approach. This means combining medications with other therapies, like talk therapy or behavioral therapy.

To learn more facts about bipolar disorder or for help with diagnosis and treatment, schedule an appointment over the phone or online at Peace, Hope & Harmony, Inc., in Midlothian, Texas.

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