Myths & Facts About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder (formally known as Manic Depressive Disorder) is a serious mental health condition that is classically marked by cycles of “mania” and depression. In the United States, around 2.8% of adults have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and about half go untreated each year due to fear of social stigmas, lack of affordable healthcare options, or misdiagnosis.

When left untreated, Bipolar Disorder causes intense changes in mood and emotions that can damage lifestyles, relationships, and careers. The exact causes of Bipolar Disorder are not yet known. Still, evidence suggests that there are genetic correlations and environmental triggers such as substance exposure and traumatic or stressful events. Some studies have found links between developing Bipolar Disorder’s symptoms and prolonged lack of sleep.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

There are two types of Bipolar Disorder based on the severity and prevalence of symptoms. Type I Bipolar Disorder is characterized by more severe episodes of mania, and Type II or “hypomanic Bipolar” is defined by more severe cycles of depression and less severe symptoms of mania. There are also subtypes that further describe the disorder, such as Cyclothymic Bipolar, a severe form of Bipolar Disorder that has frequent cycles between mania and depression—and Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS), a borderline-type diagnosis where symptoms exist but do not align with Type I or Type II.

Myths and Facts About Bipolar Disorder

People with Bipolar Disorder are always either manic or depressed:

With treatment, those with Bipolar Disorder lead very normal and productive lives.

People with Bipolar Disorder can stop therapeutic measures once they are stable: MYTH

Though occasional changes in therapeutic strategies are necessary, someone with Bipolar Disorder usually needs to continue therapeutics even when they feel good.

There is no cure for Bipolar Disorder: FACT

While it is true that there is no cure for Bipolar Disorder, with treatment, people with Bipolar Disorder can lead normal and productive lives.

Medication is the only treatment option for people with Bipolar Disorder: MYTH.

Treatment plans for Bipolar Disorder should always include combinations of therapy/consulting, balanced nutrition, tolerable exercise, support, and healthy habits.

Children and teenagers can have Bipolar Disorder: FACT

People can develop Bipolar Disorder as children and teenagers. Although it can be challenging to diagnose at a young age, there are documented cases of Bipolar Disorder in elementary-aged children.

People with Bipolar are just having fun: MYTH

Someone experiencing a manic cycle may seem like they are happy, excited, carefree, daring, and fun-loving. However, the reality is that they are unable to make rational choices and are sometimes a danger to themselves or others due to their reckless behaviors.

Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is notoriously difficult to diagnose. As per a survey taken by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (DMDA), 69% of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed initially, and more than one-third remain misdiagnosed for 10 years or more.

This is because there are a number of other mental illnesses that have mood-changing symptoms but are clinically different. Some of these include Borderline Personality Disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and Unipolar Depression. Bipolar Disorder is also commonly misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety, depending on which cycle an individual is presenting when they seek help.

To ensure the most accurate diagnosis, a psychological assessment is crucial. This comprehensive assessment will take into account current symptoms, long term symptoms, family history, medical history, and your individual experience. It can also rule out or identify other conditions that might be contributing to your symptoms, such as ADHD.

Getting Help

People with Bipolar find relief with a mixture of medication, therapy, and support from loved ones. According to the International Bipolar Foundation, 81% of those living with Bipolar feel unheard, and 77% feel isolated from people and activities they love. Every year World Bipolar Day allows us to spread awareness about Bipolar acceptance and offer our support to people around us who are living with it.
If you or someone you know in the California or Nevada areas feels like they are experiencing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, Medens Health can help evaluate and recommend treatment options. Contact us on our website or by calling/texting us at (833) 624-5400.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.