5 Harmful Bipolar Disorder Myths

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Today, there are many myths and misconceptions regarding mental health conditions and bipolar disorder, specifically.

Often, people misuse mental health terms and lump multiple diagnoses together due to misunderstanding and misinformation, thus encouraging the spread of false truths.

Here are five harmful bipolar disorder myths some people believe.

For one, some believe there is only one type of bipolar disorder, and everyone with this condition will have the same experience.

In reality, however, there are many types of bipolar disorder, and each diagnosed person experiences their diagnosis in unique ways.

Also, many believe that bipolar disorder shields you from other mental health conditions.

This is false, and often a person has a higher chance of developing other mental health conditions, such as eating and anxiety disorders, because they have bipolar disorder.

In addition, the misconception that bipolar disorder cannot be treated is widespread.

Although this condition cannot be cured entirely, there are several means and options to treat bipolar symptoms and the condition itself, including medications and therapy for bipolar disorder.

Read on to learn about five harmful bipolar disorder myths and discover the actual truths:

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Dr. Alana Fenton Ph.D., PSYC

Dr. Alana Fenton Ph.D., PSYC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Jackie Erwin, LPC

Jackie Erwin, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Rodney Collins, LMFT

Rodney Collins, LMFT

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Joseph Anders, LPCC

Joseph Anders, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Megan Brausam, LPC

Megan Brausam, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Alex Wiley, LPC

Alex Wiley, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374

Bipolar Disorder Only Has One Type

One common yet harmful bipolar disorder myth is that there is only one type, and everyone with this disorder must have a similar experience.

This is, however, far from the truth, as there are different types of bipolar disorder with distinct symptoms that affect people in unique ways.

An example is bipolar I disorder, characterized by alternating cycles of depressive and manic episodes.

Here, the manic episodes may occur for seven days or more and are often so severe that patients with this condition may need to be hospitalized.

Also, some people have bipolar II disorder, marked by a much less severe manic episode (in comparison to bipolar i) called hypomania and a much more prolonged period of depression.

Bipolar patients may also experience the cyclothymic type of bipolar.

Cyclothymic disorder is marked by persistent patterns of depression and hypomania symptoms; however, the symptoms aren't severe enough to meet the criteria of a wholly depressive or hypomanic episode.

Bipolar Disorder Can't be Treated

Another harmful bipolar disorder myth is that bipolar disorder cannot be treated.

This myth is very harmful and destructive as it discourages people with bipolar symptoms from seeking professional help and encourages harmful behaviors such as substance use or suicidal thoughts.

In truth, there are several treatment options for bipolar disorder.

Most people with bipolar disorder are treated with mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anti-mania drugs to manage their symptoms.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is also effective in keeping symptoms in check as it teaches you how to avoid triggers, identify symptoms before they worsen, and find support when needed.

All you need to do is get a diagnosis and then visit a medical doctor or mental health professional to discuss your symptoms and work out the best treatment plans to manage those symptoms and the disorder itself.

Bipolar Disorder Shields You From Other Mental Health Problems 

A harmful bipolar disorder myth many believe is that people with bipolar disorder cannot have other mental health problems.

This is false.

In fact, bipolar disorder increases the chances of developing co-occurring mental health conditions such as eating disorders, ADHD, anxiety, and substance abuse.

For instance, a depressive or hypomanic episode could trigger an eating disorder.

Feelings of sadness, guilt, or irritation can reduce appetite for food and cause tiredness or weakness, which may increase sleeping hours.

Inadvertently, the body becomes too weak or tired to take in food or maintain a balanced diet.

Similarly, people experiencing bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of substance abuse.

The symptoms from other mania, hypomanic or depressive episodes are often intense and challenging to manage, causing people to resort to drugs or alcohol for comfort.

Likewise, many reported cases of anxiety and panic disorders are associated with bipolar disorder.

Frequent mood swings intertwined with several other bipolar symptoms can increase stress levels significantly, which may prompt anxiety disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Dr. Alana Fenton Ph.D., PSYC

Dr. Alana Fenton Ph.D., PSYC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Jackie Erwin, LPC

Jackie Erwin, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Rodney Collins, LMFT

Rodney Collins, LMFT

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Joseph Anders, LPCC

Joseph Anders, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Megan Brausam, LPC

Megan Brausam, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Alex Wiley, LPC

Alex Wiley, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374

Bipolar Disorder Doesn't Happen to Children

Another harmful bipolar disorder myth is that bipolar disorder only happens to adults.

The fact, however, is that younger children and teenagers can also develop bipolar disorder.

Like adults, children with bipolar disorder experience mood swings from a high of mania(euphoria) to extreme emotional lows (depression).

When a child has bipolar disorder, it may be difficult to diagnose as other common mental health conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, depression, etc., have bipolar-like symptoms.

Also, some children may go through a "rebellious phase" where they feel angry, hyperactive, or irritable, thus making bipolar disorder difficult to spot.

While it's normal for children to have rough periods, if these periods worsen or cause significant problems, it may be more than just a rebellious phase.

So, if your child has severe mood swings, behavioral problems, or mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, consult a professional specializing in children's health.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the severe consequences of bipolar disorder and minimize the impact of the illness on your child as they grow. 

Bipolar Disorder Only Targets The Mood

Another popularly believed yet harmful bipolar disorder myth is that bipolar disorder only targets your mood.

In truth, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes severe mood swings and emotional instability.

However, there's more to this disorder.

Besides causing severe mood swings, bipolar disorder can significantly impact everything from physical health to sleeping patterns, eating habits, and energy levels.

For instance, when you experience a mania episode, you are likelier to sleep less, talk excessively, make impulsive decisions, overstrain yourself, take risks, be super jumpy, and act without thinking of repercussions.

Similarly, during a depression episode, you may be more likely to experience difficulty concentrating, sleep much more, always feel weak and tired, and lose weight even when you're not trying to.

Conclusion

If you or your loved one has bipolar disorder, it is essential to be clear-eyed about what this illness really entails and how it affects people.

With this knowledge, you can help others separate facts from myths, stop the spread of harmful bipolar disorder myths, end bipolar stigmatization, and provide support for bipolar disorder for those in need.

The myths that bipolar disorder; only targets the mood, happens to adults only, shields you from other mental health problems, cannot be treated, and only has one type are some of the most common and destructive myths surrounding the diagnosis.

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April 15th, 2024

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