World Bipolar Day: Facts, Symptoms, and Resources to Get Help
- Category: Mental Health
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World Bipolar Day is celebrated every year on March 30, the birthday of famous artist Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The purpose of World Bipolar Day is to raise global awareness of bipolar disorder and the issues those living with it face, as well as to eliminate the unfair social stigma surrounding the disease.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings, including emotional highs (manic episodes) and lows (depressive episodes). Episodes often last for several days or longer.
When someone with bipolar is dealing with a depressive episode, they may feel sad or hopeless or lose interest in things they usually enjoy. When they experience mania, or hypomania (which is less extreme than mania), they may feel euphoric, energetic, or irritable. These mood swings can have a severe effect on quality of life, causing sleep disturbances, impulsive or erratic behavior, impaired judgment, or relationship conflict.
Bipolar disorder can vary in severity and episodes may vary in frequency. Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, symptoms can be effectively treated with medication, counseling, or a combination of both.
Who Has Bipolar Disorder?
- According to the National Institute of Health, bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the American population age 18 and older every year.
- An equal number of men and women develop bipolar disorder, and it is diagnosed in all age groups, races, ethnic groups, and social classes.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person must have experienced at least one episode of mania or hypomania, which is a milder form of mania. People with hypomania can often still function well socially or professionally. Some people with bipolar disorder will have frequent episodes of mania or hypomania, while others may experience them more rarely.
Symptoms of manic or hypomanic episodes include:
- Feeling very happy, overjoyed, or full of energy
- Talking quickly
- Self-importance or feelings of grandeur
- Being easily distracted
- Being easily irritated or agitated
- Having delusions, hallucinations, or illogical thinking
- Impulsive behavior, such as excessive spending or dangerous risk taking
The lows of bipolar, known as depressive episodes, can be debilitating and severely affect day-to-day life. Even insignificant decisions may feel overwhelming and feelings of loss, failure, guilt, and helplessness can take a terrible toll.
Symptoms of depressive episodes include:
- Feeling sad or irritable most of the time for at least two weeks
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest
- Difficulty with memory
- Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
- Guilt and self-doubt
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Suicidal thoughts
Patterns of Depression and Mania
Someone with bipolar disorder may experience episodes of depression and mania of varying frequency. One person may experience depressive episodes more often, while another more commonly experiences mania. Length of episodes can also vary significantly from person to person.
Some common patterns of bipolar episodes include:
Rapid cycling – when someone with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a manic to depressive episodes quickly
Mixed state – when someone with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of depression and mania at the same time, such as depression combined with agitation, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and racing thoughts
Treating Bipolar Disorder
Dealing with any mental illness can feel lonely and hopeless. Many people who live with a mental health issue feel intimidated by seeking treatment or fear judgment, especially because of the unfair stigma surrounding mental health disorders. However, if you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek help so that you can return to mental wellness.
At our LiveWell Counseling center, we provide diagnostic assessments and treatment plans for a variety of mental health problems, including bipolar disorder. From your first appointment, you’ll receive personalized, compassionate care, customized to treat your individual symptoms. This treatment plan may include counseling to talk through emotions and develop effective coping skills, medication to help alleviate symptoms, or a combination of both.
To learn more about LiveWell Counseling or to schedule an appointment, please call (201) 848-5800 or visit the LiveWell Counseling section of our website.