Bipolar Disorder – Myths And Facts

There are a lot of different untruths, and misinformation online and off, about bipolar disorder. While most of this information is harmless, a couple of them really are problems, so this article contains some of the most common questions, myths and answers to

Myth: bipolar disorder isn’t manic depression

Fact: Bipolar disorder is just another term for manic depression. Typically people with depression are referred to as unipolar (as in they only go to one extreme, or ‘pole’) and people with bipolar disorder (manic depression) have two extremes or ‘poles’. Bipolar disorder is further characterized by grades, dependent on the severity of your mood swings and whether there are some other characteristics alongside them.

Myth: You can diagnose bipolar disorder with a blood test

Fact: Not that I know of. Bipolar disorder does not have markers, and though there is some evidence of genetics being able to keep track of what is going on, the human genome mapping project is a long way from finished so, though its technically possible to point to the markers on a dna profile, mass testing is a long way off.

Myth: Bipolar disorder is easy to diagnose

Fact: Bipolar disorder, like most other mental health issues, is easy to diagnose given time, and a specialist’s attention. Its not always easy, but the best place to go, if you suspect you are bipolar, or have any other mental health concerns is to go speak to a doctor. They can, at least, give you the first path to help.

Myth: Bipolars are easy to spot/can’t hold down a job

Fact: Where it’s true that it’s easier to tell if we are different when we are at one of our extremes, not every bipolar gets really hyper or really depressed. Some of us are as ‘normal’ as the rest of the world. And if the bipolar disorder is under control then it’s not that hard to hold down a job. Like everything else it’s dependent on both our triggers and our control over ourselves.

Myth: Bipolars have an excuse for ‘bad’ behaviour.

Fact: We are just as in control of our reactions as most others, most of the time. Bipolar disorder isn’t any more of an excuse for rudeness than having a bad day, PMT or sleep problems. Sometimes our control is a bit stretched, especially in times of stress and difficulty, but the fact of the matter remains that we cannot excuse our bad behavior any more than anyone else.

Myth: Bipolars aren’t aware of how they should behave

Fact: Like I said above, Bipolars are no different to people that deal with depression or anything else. We DO have an extra component, but that just makes most of us ‘faster’. When we are at one of our extremes we can be slightly more difficult to relate to and interact with, but we are inherently ‘normal’.

Myth: Moods don’t mix and it’s very easy to judge where someone will be based on what they’ve been saying and doing.

Fact: Some people are very stable bipolars. Some people however, medicated or not, are not stable. These people do need help and support until they find their feet.

Myth: You cannot get pregnant if you are bi-polar

Fact: I’m the mother of two children, though admittedly they didn’t realize I was bipolar till after I had my eldest child. It is true however, that some of the medication they use to control bipolar disorder are very dangerous and not suitable for use when pregnant. It’s always best to discuss any plans that would affect your medication with your doctor or other professional health care official.

Bipolar disorder hasn’t been fully investigated, and isn’t understood like depression. It IS caused by a chemical imbalance. What is harder to determine is why it happens and whether it’s a genetic inheritance or a fault at the level of DNA that sometimes occurs. Bipolars are usually medicated, because severe mood swings can be incredibly disruptive, and sometimes dangerous

There is a lot of work to go into the effective tracking of this disease, and a lot more understanding needs to start, as most of the misconceptions about bipolar disorder cause many misunderstandings and gaps in knowledge. The battles against this need to start at grass roots level; encouragement and support from the community and the spread of understanding is a must.

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