As we approach World Bipolar Day on 30 March 2017, it’s an important reminder that there are many people out there in the community who are suffering with complex mental illnesses. It’s also the perfect opportunity to raise our own awareness and help remove the stigma that is still attached to bipolar disorders as well as mental health in general.
What are bipolar disorders?
Bipolar disorders are characterised by periods of very high mood (elation) and very low mood (depression), sometimes with a range of normal moods in between.
It’s important to remember that we all have highs and lows in life and a range of emotions—it’s what makes us human. But people with bipolar disorders have more extreme ups and downs than the average person. The most severe bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression. These days, however, the most common bipolar disorders are:
- Bipolar disorder 1 (the more extreme condition)
- Bipolar disorder 2.
How do bipolar disorders affect sufferers and their families?
Some bipolar disorders are mild in nature, while others are more extreme. Often the pronounced ups and downs of a bipolar disorder can have a devastating impact on the life of the sufferer. This includes their ability to work, be in a relationship, and function normally in the world.
In extreme cases a bipolar disorder can even include psychotic episodes and require hospitalisation. Obviously, this level of pain and trauma can have a flow-on effect to the sufferer’s family and loved ones.
So, on World Bipolar Day 2017, think about the effect bipolar disorders can have on individuals, families, and entire communities. Each of us can play a part in removing the stigma associated with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorders and help support sufferers and their families.
Is there treatment available for bipolar disorders?
Yes, there are a variety of treatment options available for people who are diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. Usually this will include therapy and medication.
What should I do if I think I have a bipolar disorder?
If you think that you may have a bipolar disorder, in most cases the best thing to do is to book in to see your GP. They can assess you and decide if you should be referred to a specialist, such as a psychiatrist.
However, if you are experiencing extreme symptoms it may be best to go to the emergency ward at your nearest hospital.
What should I do if I think someone I love has a bipolar disorder?
If you think that someone you love may be suffering from a bipolar disorder, there are a number of small but important things that you can do.
Firstly, you can simply be there for them: listen to them when they need to talk, and be a shoulder to cry on. If you feel that they are open to discussing their state of mind, you can raise the possibility that they may be suffering from a mental illness such as a bipolar disorder. Remember, though, to emphasise that you love them and want the best for them, and that you are not judging them in any way.
You can also encourage them to seek help by booking in with their regular doctor. If they are diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, read more about what you can do.
How can I help remove the stigma around bipolar disorders?
World Bipolar Day 2017 is an opportunity for you to help remove the stigma from bipolar disorders. Part of this might mean educating yourself more about this group of mood disorders, or talking to a friend or colleague about what you’ve learned. And of course, there are also avenues like social media to share anything interesting you have found online as well as personal insights and experiences. But perhaps the most important thing you can do is to contact a loved one or friend who has a bipolar disorder and let them know that you care.
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