Stigma comes from a lack of understanding; humans frequently fear what they do not know. The more you and those around you learn about bipolar disorder, the less stigma there will be.
People with bipolar disorder often feel isolated and lonely. They may also feel pressure to hide their symptoms from co-workers and friends.
Reach Out to Your Healthcare Team
People with bipolar disorder often feel isolated because they lack social support. They also have difficulty navigating work and family responsibilities. In addition, they may be at risk of substance abuse. They can benefit from a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medication and therapy.
Friends and families of someone with bipolar disorder must talk openly with their doctors. They can provide them with tips and strategies proven to help and connect them with others dealing with the same challenges. They can also recommend other resources, such as a local bipolar disorder support group or community programs.
The stigma surrounding people with mental illness can hurt their daily lives, even when receiving proper treatment. This can lead to a loss of employment, relationships with family and friends, and a poor quality of life. Stigma can also affect a person’s long-term physical health, leading to weight issues and sleep disorders.
Educating yourself and your loved ones about the symptoms, risks, and treatments of bipolar disorder can help combat stigma. Using person-first language—which emphasizes that a diagnosis does not define a person—can further help. People with bipolar disorder can also minimize their risk by staying on a consistent routine, keeping track of their mood changes and triggers, and seeking support.
Educate Yourself About Bipolar Disorder
Educating yourself is the first step in taking control of your bipolar disorder. Use trusted online resources, books, and magazines to learn as much as possible about the condition, treatments, and medications.
It’s also important to educate yourself about recognizing the early warning signs of a manic or depressive episode, such as increased energy, changes in sleeping habits, and rapid speech and thinking. Knowing your symptoms can help you and your loved ones take proactive measures to prevent a crisis from occurring.
The stigma experienced by people with bipolar disorder can be a severe barrier to seeking treatment. But you can overcome the stigma and learn to cope with your symptoms by educating yourself, talking openly with others, and finding a comprehensive treatment plan that works for you.
Research shows that many people experience a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle interventions to manage their bipolar disorder. Drugs such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants can treat mania and depression. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral and interpersonal therapy, can help change negative thoughts and behaviors. Other therapies, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), can relieve depression. Treatment is a long-term commitment. You may need to try several different medications and dosages before you find one that works best for you.
Reach Out to Someone
If you know someone with bipolar disorder, reach out to them and help to combat stigma. It’s important to understand that just because they’re having a manic or depressive episode doesn’t mean you should label them “crazy.” Chemical disruptions in their brain cause their moods, and they need medical treatment to manage them.
You can make a difference by educating yourself about the condition, sharing what you’ve learned with others, and advocating for better mental health care for everyone. You can also support your loved ones by creating an episode plan with them so they can get the help they need during a crisis, whether from you or their doctor.
Family members of people with bipolar disorder often experience internalized stigma, which can negatively affect their mental and emotional well-being. They can feel like they are not worthy of society’s love and have been labeled by other people as mentally ill. Cultural problems, traditional beliefs, and a lack of knowledge and awareness of the public in various fields can cause this. In addition, economic challenges and forced acceptance of the existing situation can contribute to stigma formation in families. Moreover, ignorance of bipolar disorder and misconceptions about hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital can also make family members more susceptible to being labeled.
Ask for Help
People with bipolar disorder often don’t seek help because of stigma. They may think their symptoms are just typical and that they should be able to handle them independently. They may also feel that getting treatment is a sign of weakness or will interfere with their career or social life. Some even believe they should be able to control their symptoms without medication.
It’s important to realize that you don’t need to fear being labeled as having a mental illness. You need to make sure that you take steps to get the help you need to improve your symptoms and get a better quality of life.
You can also help someone with bipolar disorder by listening to them and not dismissing their feelings. People who have bipolar disorder often feel misunderstood by their loved ones, and they can end up feeling like their experiences aren’t valid or that they shouldn’t be believed.
Studies have shown that people who internalize stigma have poorer clinical and functional outcomes, so reducing your self-stigmatizing beliefs about your friend or family member’s health status is essential. Small steps, such as helping them with housework or running errands, can make a difference.