7. Once Someone With Bipolar is Stable, They Can Stop Taking Medication
It is essential to understand that medication has been prescribed for a reason. Someone with bipolar disorder may feel that since their symptoms have improved or disappeared they can stop their medication, but it is often that medication that largely contributes toward this stability. Stopping medication runs the risk of another episode, and should not be attempted at all unless under the attention of a relevant medical professional.
8. Bipolar Disorder is Always Characterized By Extreme Mood Swings
Bipolar disorder is not one single diagnosis, but rather refers to a spectrum of disorders, which vary in characteristics and severity. Generally, bipolar is divided up into type I, type II and cyclothymic. Some people with bipolar may also be categorized as ‘rapid cycling’ alongside their basic type.
The main difference between types I and II is the intensity of manic episodes; someone with type I will have episodes of hypomania that often develop into full mania – which some might describe as an ‘extreme mood swing’ – whereas someone with bipolar II will experience only the hypomania.
Full mania often causes significant damage to someone's life, and is likely to result in the need for an inpatient stay. A full manic episode may also include psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations.
There is also a chance that someone with bipolar disorder may experience a mixed episode, which is diagnostically defined as an episode meeting most or all of the symptoms of both a manic and depressive episode for more than a week.
If someone only experiences mild hypomanic symptoms such as a heightened mood, excitability or spending sprees, then there is a chance that they may not receive the correct diagnosis for many years.
These are only a few of the myths and misconceptions surrounding bipolar disorder; there are many more believed by a great deal of people. The most important and effective way to battle stigma surrounding bipolar disorder and mental illness in general is education.
Education brings with it better treatment of those with bipolar as those around them better understand the condition. It also ensures more people exhibiting symptoms are reached and diagnosed before the disorder can have a devastating impact.