Myths and Facts About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, sometimes known as manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes massive swings in a person’s energy levels and mood. In addition to the symptoms, people with bipolar disorder face myths and misunderstandings in the public eye.These issues can make it difficult for people to get the help they need. That’s why it’s important for everyone to dispel myths and spread facts about bipolar disorder.

You’re not alone. Our providers can help.

Myth: Bipolar Disorder is Rare

Fact: The National Institute of Mental Health says that almost 6 million adults in the United States live with 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 manic and depressive episodes that last two weeks or that are so severe they require hospitalization. Bipolar II includes shorter manic and depressive episodes. Cyclothymic disorder is the mildest form of bipolar disorder. It involves periods 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 episode 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 or therapy can prevent or control.

You’re not alone. Our providers can help.

Authored By 

LifeStance Health
LifeStance Health

LifeStance is a mental healthcare company focused on providing evidence-based, medically driven treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults suffering from a variety of mental health issues in an outpatient care setting, both in-person and through its digital health telemedicine offering.