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Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment options, public understanding and awareness of bipolar disorder are low, according to several studies. A public knowledge survey conducted by Harris Interactive shows that although 82% of Americans claim to know what bipolar disorder is, 64% can actually define the disorder correctly from a list of mental illness descriptions.1 In other findings that further highlight the stigma of bipolar disorder, less than half (40%) of the population believed that people with bipolar disorder struggle to discuss their illness, even though 79% of people with bipolar disorder fear the repercussions of sharing their condition with others.1 All this goes to show that public awareness regarding bipolar disorder is crucial, which is why today we’re going to look into World Bipolar Day and how you can participate.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder marked by extreme mood fluctuations ranging from manic highs to depressive lows. During a manic episode, an individual may experience symptoms like increased energy and activity, decreased need for sleep, talkativeness, racing thoughts, and distractibility.
During depressive episodes, symptoms may include feeling sad or empty, frequent crying, fatigue or loss of energy, decreased ability to think or concentrate, slowed behavior, and more. Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year, depending on the type of bipolar disorder the individual has.
There are several kinds of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I but a separate diagnosis characterized by longer periods of depression. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder are severe and dangerous, people with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods.
Both mania and depression episodes can significantly impair a person’s way of life, from their ability to manage their homes to their performance at work. Bipolar disorder can also impact a person’s relationships, as being the loved one of someone with bipolar disorder comes with a lot of patience and understanding.
Despite the disruptions that often occur as a result of bipolar disorder symptoms, individuals with this condition often don’t recognize their emotional instability and how it’s impacting their lives and their loved ones. As a result, they might not receive the mental health treatment they need. What’s more, some people with bipolar disorder even enjoy manic episodes and symptoms of increased energy.
However, these episodes are often followed by a crash, constantly dealing with these fluctuations in mood without professional help can further strain the person’s mental health and relationships with others. If you notice any symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or a loved one, get help right away.
What Is World Bipolar Day?
Also known as National Bipolar Day and Bipolar Awareness Day, World Bipolar Day (WBD) is on March 30th every year. The goal of World Bipolar Day is to bring global awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate the stigma surrounding these conditions. Through international collaboration, Bipolar Awareness Day brings information and education about bipolar disorder to improve sensitivity towards individuals with this illness.
World Bipolar Day was assigned to March 30th because it was Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday, and the painter was one of the many famous people with bipolar disorder. WBD was founded by the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) in conjunction with the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorders (ANBD) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF).
As with many mental disorders, people with bipolar disorder are often impacted by misconceptions and stigma surrounding their conditions. Common stigmas about bipolar disorder include anything from being shunned by friends or loved ones after being told about the diagnosis to being called hurtful names like “crazy” or “psycho.”
Many people also throw around the word “bipolar” in everyday conversations, which further contributes to the lack of sensitivity for the people with this condition. World Bipolar Day aims to break down the stigma about bipolar disorder by offering the general public information about this condition and how everyone can participate.
Ways to Participate on World Bipolar Awareness Day
For many people with bipolar disorder, stigma can cause them to hide their diagnosis or refuse to seek treatment because they don’t want to be “shunned” by friends and family or treated differently. Consequently, many people with bipolar disorder don’t receive the mental health care they need to manage their symptoms appropriately.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can participate in International Bipolar Day and support the cause:
- Educate yourself and others by reading up about bipolar disorder to understand the symptoms
- Mind your language and avoid using words like “crazy” or “psycho” as well as phrases like “they are bipolar.” Also, avoid using “bipolar” as an adjective to describe mild fluctuations in mood that are entirely unrelated to the actual condition or in instances where the condition is not present.
- Share your story with others to show the world that having this disorder is nothing to be ashamed of.
- Host a bipolar disorder awareness event with food, music, and bipolar disorder education for your friends and family.
- Share on your social media and use hashtags like #WorldBipolarDay to spread awareness and information.
- Wear the bipolar awareness colors, which are black and white striped, or wear a ribbon for bipolar disorder awareness.
Most importantly, if you or a loved one is showing signs of bipolar disorder, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Our mental health program in Boca includes bipolar disorder treatment that incorporates various individual and group therapy modalities to help clients improve.
Not only do we aim to get clients to a steady mental state, but we also teach them how to manage their symptoms healthily so they may sustain their stability throughout the rest of their lives. With programs like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and even family services to support our clients’ loved ones, Banyan offers a multitude of effective treatment options for mental illness.
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