Social Stigma Surrounding Bipolar Disorder is Fuelled By Myths

Social Stigma Surrounding Bipolar Disorder is Fuelled By Myths

Dr. Shradha Shejekar, Consultant Psychiatrist, Specialist Hospital


World Bipolar Day is an annual event celebrated on March 30th to raise awareness about bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness. The day aims to provide education and resources to individuals with bipolar disorder, their families, and the public to reduce stigma and promote understanding.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects the individual’s mood, energy level, and ability to function. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience episodes of extreme mood swings, including manic or hypomanic episodes, and depressive episodes. During a manic episode, individuals may feel euphoric, energetic, impulsive, experience hyper sexuality and lack of sleep, while during a depressive episode, they may feel sad, hopeless, lethargic and experience excessive drowsiness.

The exact causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Research suggests that individuals with a family history of bipolar disorder may be more likely to develop the condition. Other factors that may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder include substance abuse, hormonal imbalances, and stressful life events.

Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves a combination of medication and therapy. Mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to manage the manic and depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychoeducation, can also help individuals understand their condition and develop coping strategies to manage their symptoms. Patients also need to practice good sleep hygiene as sleep deprivation is detrimental to the health of bipolar patients.

Despite effective treatments, individuals with bipolar disorder often face social stigma, discrimination, and misunderstanding from others. The stigma attached to bipolar disorder can create barriers to treatment and social integration, leading to feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation.

The social stigma surrounding bipolar disorder is fuelled by myths and misconceptions about the condition. One common myth is that it is believed that all individuals with bipolar disorder are dangerous or violent however this is not true as not all patients are violent and violence and can be controlled or even eliminated completely with medication. Another myth is that bipolar disorder is a result of personal weakness or a lack of willpower. In fact, bipolar disorder is a medical condition that requires treatment, and individuals with bipolar disorder cannot simply “snap out of it.”

To reduce the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder, education and awareness-raising campaigns are needed. Education can help individuals understand that bipolar disorder is a treatable medical condition, and individuals with bipolar disorder can lead fulfilling and productive lives with the right support and treatment. Awareness-raising campaigns can also promote understanding and empathy towards individuals with bipolar disorder, reducing the stigma and discrimination they face.

In addition to education and awareness-raising campaigns, society can take steps to support individuals with bipolar disorder. Employers can create supportive environments for individuals with bipolar disorder by providing reasonable accommodations, such as flexible work arrangements or time off for medical appointments. Educational institutions can also provide support and resources for students with bipolar disorder, such as counseling services and academic accommodations.

Community organizations and support groups can also play a crucial role in supporting individuals with bipolar disorder and their families. Support groups provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to share their experiences, connect with others, and access resources and information. Community organizations can also advocate for policy changes and funding for research and treatment of bipolar disorder. In conclusion, World Bipolar Day is an important day to raise awareness about bipolar disorder and reduce the stigma surrounding it. Bipolar disorder is a complex condition that affects individuals in various ways, and the causes are not fully understood. However, effective treatments are available, and individuals with bipolar disorder can lead fulfilling lives with the right support and treatment. It is essential to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with bipolar disorder and provide a supportive environment for individuals with bipolar disorder to access the necessary treatment and support to lead fulfilling lives.

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