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10 Things To Know For World Bipolar Day

World Bipolar Day is March 30th. Here are ten things to know about this serious mood disorder that affects nearly six million Americans each year.

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1. Bipolar Disorder is more than just "highs" and "lows"

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), "bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person's mood, energy and ability to think clearly."

Unfortunately, bipolar disorder is too often oversimplified, when it is a complex mental illness that can make people feel every emotion out there, very intensely. It can also heavily distort perception, and for some this means delusions and/or hallucinations.

2. Bipolar disorder is an illness – not a temporary state or personality characteristic.

More specifically, this mental illness is categorized as a "mood disorder" – one that's with you for life. To use the term "bipolar" otherwise is doing bipolar people a great disservice – it propels stigma which leads to less people seeking treatment.

4. Bipolar Disorder kills one in five adult patients.

In other words, one out of every five adult patients with bipolar disorder die from suicide. And this number doesn't account for those who have gone untreated.

5. Bipolar disorder takes around 10 years to diagnose.

Two big factors: #1: stigma. #2: people seek help when they are depressed, less so when they are manic. Many are being treated for depression when they should be treated for bipolar disorder.

6. There are multiple types of bipolar disorder.

Via neurowiki2013.wikidot.com

According to WebMD, bipolar type I "involves periods of severe mood episodes from mania to depression," and bipolar type II involves "milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with periods of severe depression." There is also the less severe cyclothymic disorder.

7. Bipolar cycle lengths are different for everyone.

Via psycheducation.org

According to Healthline blogger Natasha Tracy, "bipolar mood episodes can last for days, weeks, months, or even longer." With ultradian cycling, moods can change within hours of each other.

10. Discussing bipolar disorder in public is still taboo.

Our country has a long way to go in terms of ending mental health stigma. This is even more so the case when it comes to bipolar disorder. Sadly, social norms inhibit those with bipolar disorder from being open about their illness with family and employers, so many just keep it under wraps in the public eye.

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