Secondly there is an argument that Bipolar disorder is a way or justifying or substantiating an individual's mood swings. This is also incorrect as Bipolar disorder runs much deeper than mere mood swings and can have catastrophic consequences for the individual. In fact many studies indicate a 15% rate of suicide among individuals with Bipolar disorder. This rate is about 30 times higher than that of the general population. The rate of suicides among bipolar people is even higher than that for schizophrenics. Some studies have come up with rates as high as 30%-50% (Bipolar-lives.com). If you consider the fact you can regularly drop from elation to despair, it is easy to see why there is such a risk of suicide within people affected by this condition.
It has been suggested there are 3 types of Bi-polar disorder:
Bipolar I - Generally this diagnosis is made if you have experienced at least one episode of mania which has lasted longer than a week. In addition you might also have experienced depressive episodes, although this is not evident in all cases. This in itself is interesting as it contradicts the myth of constant fluctuating moods.
Bipolar II - A diagnosis of Bipolar II can occur if you have experienced at least one episode of severe depression. You may also experience hypomania which is milder form of mania.
Cyclothymia - When the symptoms may not be severe enough to meet the criteria of a diagnosis for Bipolar I or II, but you have experienced both hypomanic and depressive mood states over the course of two years or more, you may be diagnosed with Cyclothymia. Whilst symptoms aren't as severe, they can last for longer.
Recently I watched a program around Bipolar and as well as being powerful and highly emotive, it was also a great insight into what people with Bipolar experience. I saw an individual who would be in the middle of his band rehearsal and would suddenly become catatonic and cease what he was doing due to the onset of a depressive period. It's difficult to conceptualise, but imagine being in the middle of doing something you love and have a great passion for and then suddenly you lose all the will to continue and elation and enjoyment are replaced with despair and despondency. Imagine being in the middle of a dream holiday and suddenly not being able to pick yourself up enough to leave your room. Now you may begin to get an idea of what happens in the world of somebody with bipolar. Fluctuating moods become a norm; suicidal thoughts and maladaptive behaviour are to be expected and anticipated.
The purpose of this blog is not to elicit sympathy, but to create an understanding of a much understated condition which can profoundly affect people's lives in a dramatic way. Not only this, but it can also impact those around who are working tirelessly to support the individual in times of mania and depression. Whilst there is no specific test for Bipolar, by keeping vigilant and looking out for some of the symptoms at the following site, you can generate more of an understanding around how you may be able to support.
Here are some further useful links if you would like to learn more:
As always thanks for reading and stay safe friends