Feb 152013

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a difficult to understand illness because of the strong negative stigma it gets. Often, people assume that those with bipolar disorder cannot be trusted, are unstable, or lazy. The reality is that bipolar disorder essentially is a mood disorder where the person experiences irregular moods and energy levels, according to the National Association of Mental Illness.

As NAMI points out, this illness is very complex and the reasons behind its development are not entirely clear yet. According to Psychology Today, it does affect over 3 percent of the United States’ population and it often includes having lower wages, higher unemployment rates, and a struggle to accomplish work.

This is the case because bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that affects the way a person feels; it affects the energy and mood levels of a person so that they experience two extreme: mania and depression. Manic episodes involve high levels of energy, anxiety, and restlessness. Usually, manic episodes result in coming up with projects. The depression episodes involve a lack of energy and low moods.

Tom Wotton writes “Understanding Bipolar: You Don’t Know the Half of It” on The Huffington Post, where he dispels myths about the illness. He writes, “The horrible symptoms of depression and mania that can occur when an individual is in a disordered state are well known. They include physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and career/financial dysfunction.”

He explains, “I am all too familiar with the devastation wrecked on my own life and those around me that both the manic and depressive sides of bipolar disorder contributed to. It nearly cost me my life,” to showcase that the illness is serious. However, he also talks about a movement and a shift in the understanding of bipolar disorders, which he refers to as “bipolar In Orders.”

So, while it is important to understand that bipolar disorder is a serious illness, it is also important to remember that it can be managed, it can be handled and lived with, coped with, and that great people have had the illness and led, and continue to lead, wonderful, successful, and incredibly fruitful lives.

It is important to understand that depression and bipolar disorders are two different illnesses; it is crucial to remember that there is complexity to this illness and that modern medicine does not offer all the answers to how we can prevent these illness yet. We don’t know what genes cause bipolar disorder yet! Therefore, while we have come a long way to understanding this illness, we still have more to come, more to understand or learn about bipolar disorder. And what more to understand but the need to be understanding, supportive, and loving to those who have bipolar disorder.