An estimated 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disease. Unfortunately, many of them make the walk alone, with few others understanding this condition and its impacts on a person’s life.

The reality is many people mistakenly believe those suffering from bipolar disease have control over their behavior. They blame the mood swings on other things and expect for a person to have the ability to “snap out of it” or “get it together.”

Sadly, with a misdiagnoses rate that is extremely high and a biological root for the condition, getting bipolar disease under wraps isn’t as easy as many would like to think. There are some basic things about bipolar disease anyone with a friend, loved one or co-worker should know. These include:

  • A person is not in control. When this disease goes without treatment, the person suffering from it really does not have control of the mood swings or the symptoms that might arise from them.
  • It is not totally psychological. Counseling will not cure this disease. In fact, bipolar symptoms are tied to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This means there is a biological root, although not understood, that leads to the periods of ups and downs.
  • This condition presents in swings. The key to spotting bipolar disorder over clinical depression lies in the fact that very abrupt and dramatic mood swings are present. Those suffering from the disorder will present with both manic and depressive symptoms at times. It’s even possible they will behave quite normally, or middle of the road, at others.
  • There is no known cure. It is currently impossible to “fix” the chemical imbalance in the brain and end the possibility for symptoms all together.
  • It is treatable. Those who suffer from this condition and obtain a correct diagnosis can, in fact, lead very normal lives. With the correct medications, the mood swings can be brought into check or eliminated entirely.
  • People who suffer from this condition are not “crazy.” While they may act off at times, their actions have a biological, not psychological root.
  • The condition’s potential side effects can be serious. In and of itself the condition is not fatal, but the various mood swings can have very grave results. Those in a manic phase, for example, might do something completely out of character and take risks that can lead to accidents, injury and even death. In the depressive phase, some people take their own lives.
  • It’s an easy condition to get under control. This is right and wrong. Once the correct diagnosis has been made, it is possible to bring the symptoms into complete check through maintenance medications. Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis rate falls in around 70 percent, so completely getting bipolar disease under control can be a very tricky proposition indeed. It is important that the mood swings be documented and brought up to a doctor. Persistence is often key in having the right diagnosis made.

Living with bipolar disease isn’t easy. Many of those who suffer do so alone. When friends, family and even co-workers take the time to understand it better, they are in a better position to help.

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