Like other mental illnesses, bipolar disorder is shrouded in harmful stereotypes and misconceptions. These not only hurt those suffering from bipolar disorder, but make it difficult for others to recognize symptoms in themselves or loved ones without feeling shame or distrust.
To clear the air and make space for bipolar people, it’s time to set the record straight. At Genesis Psychiatric Solutions, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Ifeanyi Olele diagnoses and treats patients with bipolar disorder, while helping dispel harmful myths about this condition.
Myths about bipolar disorder
Everyone copes with their emotions differently, and pigeonholing people based solely on their diagnosis does the majority a disservice. Implying that any negative behaviors that people with bipolar disorder display are inherent to their illness helps no one.
Here are just four of many harmful myths about bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is just a fancy word for mood swings
The extended and extreme highs and lows that bipolar people experience are not mood swings, but rather a cycle of depression and mania.
Depending on which type of bipolar disorder they’re experiencing, these periods can last for weeks or months at a time. In contrast, mood swings last just minutes or hours.
Bipolar people are only interesting when they’re manic
You shouldn’t treat bouts of mania as periods of fun or productivity. This mindset only worsens depression during downswings, as you can start to feel like a failure for not being up all the time.
Bipolar people are more likely to be abusive
Sadly, television, film, and social media show people with bipolar disorder as incapable of real emotions, portraying them as sociopathic. The truth is that like many other people with mental illness, people with bipolar are more likely to be victimized than to abuse others.
There’s no point in treating bipolar disorder
This misconception leads many to avoid diagnosis and treatment, believing that there is no hope. While treating bipolar disorder is not as straightforward as other mental illnesses, there are ways to space out episodes and establish periods of euthymia, or a balanced mood.
Encouraging facts to remember
Whether you’ve already received a diagnosis or are researching bipolar disorder, it’s important to find reliable resources. Word of mouth is not trustworthy, especially when it involves mental health.
People tend to repeat the things they hear about conditions they don’t understand, which muddies the truth.
Not all of the information surrounding bipolar disorder is negative. There are plenty of positive things to be said about the people who have it, especially those who learn to manage their symptoms and express themselves in healthy ways.
Individuals with bipolar disorder and mood swings are naturally attuned to the emotions of others, often being deeply empathetic and kind. Because they understand the toll of mood swings and emotional extremes, they are often sympathetic to others in the same position.
Studies show that those with bipolar disorder are also often creatively gifted, being more artistically inclined and pursuing hobbies more intensely. This is why some artists stop their medication when it makes them feel less inspired.
Luckily, improvements in the understanding and management of bipolar disorder mean that there are more options for treatment. Bipolar artists no longer have to worry about forfeiting their passion for their mental health. There are plenty of medications, therapies, and coping methods that can help.
To learn more about bipolar disorder, schedule a consultation by calling the location closest to you or visit our contact page for more options. We have locations in Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington, DC.