World Bipolar Day – Strength for today, hope for tomorrow

The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and eliminate social stigma.

World Bipolar Day (WBD) is an initiative of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD). It is celebrated each year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that mainly affects your mood. People with Bipolar Disorder are likely to have times where they experience:

  • Manic or hypomanic episodes (feeling high)
  • Depressive episodes (feeling low)
  • Potentially some psychotic symptoms – during manic or depressed episodes

The Facts (Bipolar UK)

  • Bipolar is a common condition. 1 to 2% of the population experience a lifetime prevalence of bipolar and recent research suggests as many as 5% of us are on the bipolar spectrum. 12
  • On average, it takes 10.5 years to receive a correct diagnosis of bipolar in the UK
  • Bipolar increases the risk of suicide x 20
  • The World Health Organisation identifies bipolar as one of the top causes of lost years of life and health in 15 to 44 year olds
  • Compared to other health problems, treatment of bipolar is still badly affected by misunderstanding and stigma
  • Bipolar affects every aspect of your life and your relationships. Family and friends can all be put under stress

The Diagnosis

The diagnosis is usually made by a psychiatrist who will:

  • Take a comprehensive history to arrive at a clear diagnosis
  • Assess risk e.g. safety to drive, or stay at home on your own or risk of suicide
  • Medication – stopping antidepressants and starting mood stabilisers
  • Psychoeducation of the patient and the family so they understand the illness and how best to manage it
  • Psychological therapy

The Long Term

The aim of the treatment is to stabilise the persons mood and effectively manage their symptoms. Ongoing support is likely to be provided by the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) or the GP.

Self-care is an important part of managing the condition and it is advisable for the person to:

  • Get to know their moods – monitor mood over a period, use a mood diary
  • Understand triggers – action can then be taken to minimise the impact
  • Recognise the warning signs – this could be a change in seeping and/or eating habits
  • Take practical steps – sticking to a routine – this includes taking medication at the same time and taking time for hobbies and social plans
  • Looking after physical health plays an important role too – eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and taking regular exercise

World Bipolar Day

Each of the funding organisations encourage their members to raise the profile of bipolar via social media, press, organising an educational event and tweet using @WorldBipolarDay More information is available at http://www.worldbipolarday.org/

References 

1Merikangas KR, Peters TL, Update on the Epidemiology of Bipolar Disorder. In Yatham LN, Maj M “Bipolar Disorder Clinical and Neurobiological Foundations”, Chapter 6, page 52-61. Wiley-Blackwell UK, 2010.

2Lam, D.; Wright, K.; Smith, N. (2004). “Dysfunctional assumptions in bipolar disorder”. Journal of Affective Disorders 79.