World Bipolar Day: Your Questions Answered

World Bipolar Day is celebrated each year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

The vision of World Bipolar Day (WBD) is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate social stigma. Through international collaboration, the goal of World Bipolar Day is to bring the world population information about bipolar disorders that will educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness.

Group Clinical Director at Cygnet Health Care, Jon Van Niekerk, has responded to some commonly asked questions to help us better understand the condition.

1. What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depressive illness, is a condition that causes significant mood swings in individuals. These mood swings range from extreme highs (mania or hypomania) to profound lows (depression), lasting for weeks or months. Unlike ordinary mood fluctuations, these shifts are intense and can severely impact a person’s life.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic mood swings. These include:
• Depressive episodes: where a person feels deeply sad, hopeless, and loses interest in activities they once enjoyed.
• Manic episodes: periods of overly joyful or over-energized behaviour, often with grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities.
• Hypomanic episodes: less severe than manic episodes but still with elevated mood and energy.
• Mixed episodes: a combination of manic and depressive symptoms simultaneously.

2. How common is Bipolar Disorder?

About 2% of the adult population will experience bipolar disorder at some point. It typically begins between the ages of 15 and 25 and is less common after 50.

3. What are the different types of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar I: Characterized by at least one manic episode. Many individuals also experience depressive episodes.
Bipolar II: Involves periods of severe depression and hypomania, without full-blown manic episodes.
Rapid Cycling: Defined by four or more mood episodes in a year.
Cyclothymia: Milder, chronic form of bipolar disorder with less severe mood swings.

5. What are the causes of Bipolar Disorder?

The exact cause is unknown, but a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors plays a role. A family history of bipolar disorder significantly increases the risk.

6. What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

• During Depressive Episodes: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep, thoughts of suicide.
• During Manic Episodes: Elevated mood, increased energy, reduced need for sleep, grandiose ideas, and impulsive behaviour.

7. How is Bipolar Disorder typically treated?

Treatment usually involves a combination of medication and therapy. Medications may include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and, in some cases, antidepressants. Psychological interventions can also be beneficial, focusing on coping strategies and mood management.

8. How can you best support someone with Bipolar Disorder?

Supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder involves understanding, patience, and encouraging treatment adherence. It’s also important to look after your own mental health. Educating yourself about the disorder, being prepared for emergencies, and knowing when to seek help are crucial steps.

  • Education: Learn about the condition to better understand their experiences.
  • Encouragement: Support their treatment plan and encourage healthy habits.
  • Communication: Keep open lines of communication and express your support.
  • Self-care: Ensure you also take care of your mental and physical health.

9. Are there any risks associated with Bipolar Disorder?

Without treatment, bipolar disorder can lead to severe outcomes, including relationship problems, financial instability, and an increased risk of suicide.

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4262 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.