Bipolar disorder, aka manic-depressive illness, is a brain glitch that causes mood-energy-activity swings that make it difficult to get through the day. It’s a mental illness plagued by a host of myths that make understanding the disease difficult.

The mental health professionals at Progressive Behavioral Health, PLLC are skilled at diagnosing and treating people with bipolar disorder. First, it’s important to separate fiction from fact.

Myth: Bipolar disorder is rare.

Fact: The National Institute of Mental Health says that almost 6 million adults in the U.S. suffer from bipolar disorder. The median onset is 25 years, although the illness can develop in people much older or younger.

Myth: There’s only one kind of bipolar disorder.

Fact: There are three main categories of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I is categorized by extreme mood swings. Bipolar II includes less severe manic and depressive episodes. Cyclothymic disorder is the mildest form with episodes that disrupt your life but don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for manic or depressive episodes.

Myth: Manic episodes are merely elated and high-energy periods.

Fact: People with bipolar disorder can display several symptoms during a manic period in addition to elation and high energy. These can include:

  • Feeling jumpy and wired
  • Insomnia
  • Talking faster and more than usual
  • Acting agitated or irritable
  • Doing risky things like having reckless sex or spending great sums of money

Myth: Depressive episodes just mean a person with bipolar disorder is feeling down or hopeless.

Fact: Symptoms of depressive episodes can also include:

  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Feeling worried or empty
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Over- or undereating

Myth: People with bipolar disorder feel either manic or depressive.

Fact: Symptoms don’t show up in nice, neat packages or at regular intervals. People can feel both sad and hopeless, yet energized. Some people with the disorder experience symptoms frequently or rarely.

Myth: There’s no treatment for bipolar disorder.

Fact: Many treatments exist for bipolar disorder. Medications like mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anti-manics work well for some patients. Supportive psychotherapy also is effective.

Myth: Stress doesn’t influence bipolar disorder.

Fact: Stress, alcohol, and drug use can trigger manic and depressive symptoms or make them worse.

Myth: People experiencing bipolar disorder symptoms should be hospitalized.

Fact: Not always, and sometimes never. Many people with the illness have mild and manageable symptoms that medication and/or therapy can prevent or control.

If you’re having mood swings or need help managing your bipolar disorder, call Progressive Behavioral Health at 281-993-3733, or make an appointment online today.