Understanding Bipolar Disorder
by Kat Rowe | November 24, 2023
The prevalence and impact on mental health
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects 1 in 50 Australians each year. The condition is classed as a mood disorder, characterised by changes between intense states of mania and depression.
As we delve into the fabrics of bipolar disorder, it is important to recognise its impact on one’s overall health, understanding the daily ramifications and daily challenges faced by individuals and illuminating a path towards informed support and compassionate care.
Reducing the stigma of bipolar disorder and increasing awareness
It is important to note that bipolar disorder can present itself differently to each individual. However, according to The Black Dog Institute, there are some common symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Incredibly high feelings of euphoria
- High irritability, aggression and impatience
- Getting little to no sleep
- Poor appetite
- Racing thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Delusions and hallucinations, and much more.
While it is common for most people to experience fluctuations in moods from time to time, those experiencing dramatic episodes of highs and lows in bipolar disorder can significantly impact the day-to-day life of individuals affected by this illness. These episodes or changes in mood can last weeks or even months.
If you or someone you know are experiencing the above symptoms, or concerned about extreme changes in mood, please seek support from a GP or mental health professional.
During your visit with a GP or mental health professional, they may ask you about:
- Your moods and how long you have experienced them
- And how your mood affects your daily life.
Through the process of diagnosing a patient with bipolar disorder, a GP or mental health professional will thoroughly examine your physical health to rule out any health concerns. The professional will also assess mental health state and life experiences.
Dunking misconceptions around stigmas around bipolar disorder
Unfortunately, misconceptions and stigmas surrounding bipolar disorder continue to persist, deterring our understanding and limited education about the illness. It’s crucial to debunk these myths and facilitate an environment where open conversations around bipolar disorder (and mental health) can flourish.
In addressing common misconceptions, a deeper understanding is needed to recognise that bipolar disorder is not just random mood swings, but a medical condition that can be managed with the right support.
Individuals living with bipolar disorder can live fulfilling lives with the correct treatment and understanding from their surrounding communities. The frequency of episodes of bipolar disorder can vary per person and their treatment. Some people may experience one episode per year, however others may experience episodes monthly, or even more frequently.
Importance of support systems and peer networks
Adequate education about bipolar disorder is crucial in recognising the profound impact that support systems and peer networks can have on individuals living with bipolar disorder.
At Stride, we believe that support and education are integral components of empowering people living with bipolar disorder. Our dedicated team can not only help you access the support you need but also provide educational resources to help those closest to you gain a better understanding of bipolar disorder.
Find out more about support access
Our team at Stride offer support and services to those living with bipolar disorder or who have other complex and enduring mental health needs.
This support may be accessed through NDIS services available to people diagnosed with a psychosocial disability or through a meeting with our staff at our centres. Stride operates a variety of support services, including Head To Health, headspace and Safe Space/ Safe Havens in our community. Visit our website to find services close to you.