• What is bipolar? What is Bipolar 1? What is Bipolar 2? What is the difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2? What is the history of bipolar disorder? What are some common myths about bipolar? These are very common questions that are often asked about bipolar disorder, and they will be answered in this post.
Bipolar Discovery Timeline:• 2nd Century: Research records reveal mention of the symptoms of bipolar disorder by the Greek physician Aretaeus.• 1650: The book The Anatomy of Melancholia is written by the scientist Richard Burton, focusing specifically on depression as a mental illness.• 1854: The link between depression and suicide is established by Dr. Jules Falret. The term bipolar disorder arose from his work, as he noted the difference between times of depressive and manic moods. Dr. Falrets work helped point to the fact that there is a hereditary link to bipolar.• 1913: German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin establishes the term manic-depressive in his study of the effects of depression and mania. He noted from his studies, that periods of mania and depression, were usually followed by relatively symptom free moments.• 1957: German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard proposes sub-classification of bipolar disorder. Today that has expanded, into the recognition of five different bipolar types.• 1970s: The manic-depressive are finally recognized as having a legitimate illness. Standards are finally established, and laws are finally enacted to help the mentally ill.• 1980: The diagnostic term manic-depressive is replaced with the term bipolar disorder.
What is Bipolar?• According to the National Institute of Mental Health "Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time."
Types of Bipolar Disorder:• There are five classifications of bipolar disorder. Bipolar Type 1, Bipolar Type 2, Cyclothymic Disorder, Mixed Bipolar, and Rapid Cycling.• Bipolar Type 1: Characterized by the occurrence of at least one manic episode, with or without an occurrence of a severe depressive episode. The mania in this type is most severe of all types. The manic episode usually lasts a minimum of a week, but can last much longer. The manic episodes in this type can be so severe the individual could experience hallucinations, become extremely delusional, and have to be hospitalized for an extensive time.• Bipolar Type 2: Characterized by the occurrence of at least one episode of hypo- mania, (a less severe manic episode) and one severe depressive episode. Sometimes there are more depressive episodes with this type. The major difference between bipolar type 1 and type 2, is in the severity of manic episodes.• Cyclothymic Disorder: Characterized by periods of hypo-mania and brief periods of depressive episodes that are not as extensive.• Mixed Bipolar: Characterized by periods of both manic and depressive episodes that are experienced simultaneously.• Rapid Cycling: Characterized by episodes that can include mania, hypo-mania, mixed state and depressive mood swings, with at least four or more episodes in a 12 month period.
What Causes Bipolar?• The exact cause of bipolar is still not clearly defined. Doctors have however identified factors that have often been evident when a bipolar episode is triggered in a person.• Inherited Genes- People who have a blood relative with bipolar disorder.• Environment- An experience of abuse or a major loss traumatizing loss.• Biological change- Actual physical changes appear in the brain.• Chemical imbalance- An imbalance of the neurotransmitters in the brain.
How Many People HaveBipolar Disorder:• United States: Approximately 5.7 million adults age 18 and older in the U.S. are living with bipolar disorder in any given year according to (NIMH).• United Kingdom: Approximately 2.4 million people in the UK are living with bipolar disorder. Up to 254 million people in the world have bipolar disorder (Source: Bipolar Foundation)
Bipolar Myths vs. Facts:• Myth-Children cant get bipolar disorder; Fact- Children as young as 6 can get bipolar disorder.• Myth- People with bipolar disorder are dangerous; Fact- Although the violent mentally ill do account for about half the rampage murders in the United States, psychiatric experts say 99 percent of mentally ill people are not violent.• Myth- People who are mentally ill can beat the disorder if they just try hard enough; Fact- Bipolar although a mental illness, is a real illness that requires professional treatment to get better. To believe that a person with bipolar disorder can do this, is the same as believing someone with the physical illness diabetes can fight it off with sheer will power.• Myth- People with bipolar will never be able to live a normal life again; Fact- Life with bipolar will definitely be more difficult. But with treatment and medication, and self help strategies, a normal long term fulfilling life is possible. Many maintain employment despite bipolar and excel in their career.• Myth- Medication cures bipolar; Fact- Medication is definitely the foundation for treatment. However, the best results for long term successful treatment, are found when diet, exercise, counseling, and self help strategies are included in the treatment plan. There is no known cure for bipolar disorder.• Myth- Bipolar is more common in women than men; Fact- Women are diagnosed more often for rapid cycling bipolar, but are diagnosed about equally for all other bipolar disorder types.
Random Bipolar Facts:• Average age of bipolar onset is 25 years of age according to the National Institute of Mental Health.• Bipolar disorder has a suicide rate of up to 20%.• 2.4 out of 100 people in the world have bipolar disorder.• Nearly 30% of people with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at least once (Citrome & Goldberg, 2005).• Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. (World Health Organization)• Up to 75% of those who commit suicide suffered from a depressive illness.• Those with bipolar disorder that take mood stabilizers as prescribed by their doctor, reduce their suicide risk, as much as seven-fold.• About 4 out of 10 people with untreated bipolar abuse alcohol or drugs.• People with a family history of bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of developing it.• There is no known way of preventing bipolar disorder.• Several factors can contribute to the onset of bipolar disorder. Genetics, neurochemical, and environmental factors all may play some role. Bipolar is mostly thought to be a biological disorder caused by a malfunction of the neurotransmitters in the brain.• 33% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers also have a mental illness.• Bipolar effects all genders, races, socioeconomic and ethnic groups.• Women generally experience more depressive cycles than men.
How You Can Help a BipolarPerson:• Learn all you can about bipolar disorder and educate others.• Try and reduce the stress around them.• Help them to stick to their treatment plans.• Recognize that their mood swings are not controllable and do not take any upsetting words or actions of theirs personal. Remember it is their illness that is in all likelihood responsible for their acts.• Be mindful that a person with bipolar often has weakened abilities to take care of the normal daily functions of life. Step in if possible if it is apparent they are neglecting things. Finances and medical needs are often neglected with people who have bipolar disorder.• Bipolar disorder is a very challenging disorder. It affects many peoples lives. The major effects of bipolar are felt primarily by those it inflicts. Let us not forget that the effects of bipolar are also felt among the families and friends of the afflicted one. There are many mental health support groups set up to help both the person with bipolar disorder and their families.
Mental Health Support Groups:• Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)• National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)• Mental Health America (NMHA)• National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)• Bipolar Significant Others (BPSO)• With education about mental health and bipolar disorder, with earnest effort and the help of support groups, the challenges presented by bipolar disorder can often be effectively managed.