Bipolar disorder, a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood and energy, affects about 2.8% of the United States population and many more people worldwide. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder face unique challenges and social stigma.
World Bipolar Day, celebrated each year on March 30, is an ongoing effort to increase global understanding of bipolar disorders. It’s also a time to highlight the availability of bipolar disorder and addiction treatment.
What is World Bipolar Day?
World Bipolar Day is a joint project founded by the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD), the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD). Each year the day is observed on March 30–the birthday of Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, who is believed to have had bipolar disorder during his lifetime.
Mental health organizations and their allies around the world honor World Bipolar Day by:
- Providing information and education about bipolar disorders.
- Encouraging open discussion about issues surrounding bipolar disorder.
- Connecting people with bipolar disorders to a wider community and sharing treatment and wellness resources.
World Bipolar Day also aims to decrease the stigma attached to bipolar disorder and promote global sensitivity to the condition.
Increasing Bipolar Disorder Awareness
Bipolar disorder, formerly called “manic depression,” can affect every aspect of a person’s life. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience mood swings that are far more intense than the regular ups and downs everyone faces in daily life. Their moods or episodes can range from mania–excessive energy, elation, and irritability–to severe depression.
During periods of mania, or manic episodes, a person with bipolar disorder may behave in strange, unpredictable ways. Their energetic mood might lead them to take risky or impulsive actions without considering the consequences. Some individuals experience hypomania, a milder form of mania where they can still function socially, but their activity and energy levels change.
During periods of depression, a person with bipolar disorder may feel hopeless, lost, or guilty for several weeks at a time. They might have trouble sleeping or sleep too much. They may even have suicidal thoughts.
Some people have episodes with mixed features, where they deal with symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.
A critical part of bipolar awareness is knowing that everyone’s experience of the disorder is different, and no two individuals will have the exact same symptoms. However, most people with the diagnosis fall into one of these broad categories:
- Bipolar I disorder, in which manic symptoms are severe enough to require hospital care.
- Bipolar II disorder, where manic symptoms are less severe than Bipolar I, but depressive episodes may be stronger.
- Cyclothymic disorder, where people experience hypomanic and depressive symptoms without having full manic or depressive episodes.
While bipolar disorder doesn’t have a cure, it’s treatable with therapy and medication. On World Bipolar Day and throughout the year, advocacy groups are working with global experts to learn more about the origins of the disorder and improve medical treatments.
Bipolar Disorder and Addiction: Help and Hope
Often, bipolar disorder and addiction are connected. When people with bipolar disorder behave in risky ways during manic episodes, they may abuse drugs or alcohol. Depressive episodes may lead them to cope with overwhelming sadness by using substances for a temporary mood lift. Both kinds of substance use can result in addiction over time.
The most successful treatment addresses both bipolar disorder and addiction simultaneously. Treatment can involve counseling, medication, or both, and it’s always supervised by trained medical professionals. An individual may take mood-stabilizing medication to handle symptoms of bipolar disorder while participating in therapy to learn healthier coping mechanisms.
When symptoms are well-managed, people with bipolar disorder can live and thrive–and overcome any addictions they’re facing.
Treatment at Greater Boston Addiction Centers
Our treatment model approaches bipolar disorder and addiction as conditions to be managed together. Doctors work with clients to stabilize their symptoms with medication, if necessary, and to provide primary care.
Individual and group therapy sessions teach strategies for handling the strong emotions that often arise with bipolar symptoms. These strategies can help clients overcome urges to use substances, as well.
Greater Boston Addiction Centers offer daytime and evening outpatient programs, including partial hospitalization. If you’re ready to explore bipolar disorder and addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, reach out to our centers at 877.920.6583 today.