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4 Misconceptions About Bipolar that Need to be Smashed

1. Myth: Bipolar means mood swings, like we all get. 

Fact: The frequency and intensity of the characteristic behavior are the basic differences between a trait of someone with or without a mental illness. The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are very different than those of people without the condition. 

The mood swings of a person with bipolar are far more severe than a normal person sad about his favorite team losing or a person happy about an unexpected bonus from work. To someone suffering from bipolar the mood swings interfere with one or all important aspects of functioning. Work and school may be impacted adversely. Moreover, the mood swings are longer lasting, remaining weeks or even months after the events which provoked them are past. 

So when we refer to bipolar disorder, we are not talking about good moods or bad moods. We are talking about two extremes of the mood dimension- mania (a feeling of elation that causes feelings of excitement and increased activity, to the point of making dangerous decisions) and depression, excessive sleep and lethargy. A range of symptoms exists- people with bipolar may not feel both the extremes for the same period of time, or may feel one for a prolonged amount of time with greater intensity.

2. Myth: For people with bipolar, all of their moods occur due to their condition. 

Fact: One part of the personality does not influence all actions. For example, if a person is termed as aggressive by his peers, it does not mean that his anger will always be unmerited. Likewise, people with bipolar do have moods and feelings not related to their disorder. Any argument or misdeed should not be blamed on the disorder. Bipolar as a condition is treatable and can be stabilized, and the cause for grievances can be genuine. 

3. Myth: Mania is productive. 

Fact: Mania is a condition of a euphoric, elevated mood, feeling on the top of the world, with a marked increase in activity.  In mild forms, this can allow the person to be more productive. But as the mania progresses, people tend to become irritable, making dangerous choices leading to disaster in multiple spheres of life- professional, personal or sexual. Lack of sleep is a common symptom, and the person slowly loses control over his actions and thoughts. 

4. Myth: There is only one type of bipolar disorder. 

Fact: People with bipolar disorder experience severe mood changes, however, exactly what the moods feel like, their intensity, and how long they last depends on the individual. As a result, several different types of bipolar disorder have been identified. They are known as Bipolar I (extreme manic episodes and depressive episodes), Bipolar II (hypomania, a milder form of mania, and severe depressive episodes), Cyclothymia (several hypomanic episodes and less severe episodes of depression), and Bipolar Disorder Otherwise Not Specified (which does not follow a particular pattern).


As a Dad who has cared for our bipolar daughter and discovered my own Bipolar roots, I have written four short "starter books on living with bipolar disorder #bipolardad #AMAZON

James, I wish my dad was as supportive as you (I'm 17).Your daughter is very lucky to have you :)

This is very well written and accurate. It is a succinct explanation which assists non-sufferers to understand the illness.

Thank you! I wrote this for other people like me who need to understand the illness but do not suffer from it

Mania can also be dysphoric, or unhappy. It is also referred to as a mixed state, when you feel depressed with the symptoms of mania.

I read this and am dealing with mania as I write this and you are right there are so many out there that still just don't get how different it is to be pulled so far down by depression and then only to be brought so far back up to becoming manic and having to explain yourself constantly to others and know no matter what you say no matter how much good you do when you are stable when an episode comes back around for you people are always going to see the illness first and the person you really are seems like it is far far in the distance but don't get me wrong I don't blame other people they don't know because they think they have experienced something similar but unless they have experienced the same symptoms to the same degree they will never completely understand but here is hoping for a little less of those misunderstandings and more wisdom for those who are less misfortunate then we

Hello Roger, I hope you become better. Yes, it is hard for others to understand. I myself don't have bipolar but I hope to dispel misunderstanding about it.

So tired of everyeone always blaming thw disease. Or Completely forgetting it's even a part of my life until "oh lord here she goes". Im tired of being tired. Of constantly defending myself to INTELLIGENT people that refuse to have any common sense or desire to even try to understand. Im so tired. Very tired

I think I might be a mix or something cuz I'm sometimes mild but I also can be close to severe at times. I deal with more depression episodes but is it normal to lose motivation for everything and get physical pain? I've never been told my exact diagnosis so I'm always guessing but I know I have anxiety and depression and bipolar runs in my family.

I have bipolar2 which for me my bipolar went into remition but I must say as of yesterday I went back to my doctor for help my bipolar came back with a different twist I'm not depressed I'm paranoid which for me was starting to intfear with me and how I interact with other people so maybe with different people it's different but I wish u all the best but please get it checked out if u are feeling pain there is a reason good luck

What they said in here is spot on ,I suffer from the same disorder and must say :I am one of the lucky ppl who's girlfriend understand me when it comes to my disorder ,its hard when you are in a relationship and your partner does not understand why you act the way you do .

Hey Rocky
You are luck to have someone to support you!

My beautiful nearly 5 year old granddaughter has an emerging psychiatric illness with psychosis. She can't even have a proper diagnosis yet because of her age. Her DX is still Aspergers, formally, although she has responded favorably to lamictal. This is a family issue. I am either bipolar II OR cyclothamic depending on my shrink or psychologist. Already this beautiful, highly intelligent child is being stigmatized by her own family, most notably my stupid sister in law. People need to be educated and the stigma needs to end.

Thank you! As a therapist, I often have clients who report their teens have bipolar or hear that doctors have prescribed medications for bipolar with no regard to duration of episodes and intensity. This helps to clear up common misconceptions.

There are still so much stigma around bi polar and other severe mental health disorders. I haven't had an episode in three years (knock on wood) my medication took instantly and i spent the last 4 years in therapy and self help groups. It took me a while to figure out that my disorder doesn't define me but yet there are still some people who get very awkward when I speak so openly about it. I'm definitely going to buy that book. Kudos to you dad for supporting and loving your daughter. I hope society can one day embrace your knowledge. ❤❤❤

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