Thursday, February 13, 2014

From Outcast To Insider: Overcoming The Stigma of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder and Society:

The stigma often associated with manic depression and other mental disorders is very real. Many people with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses are afraid to share their condition with other people for fear of ridicule or judgment.

A World Federation for Mental Health study recently revealed that more than 71% of patients with bipolar disorder felt they could not reveal their illness to others without being judged.

The stigma is so real in fact many will avoid telling friends or family of their mental condition. Many people with bipolar disorder face stigma and discomfort from well-meaning friends and family members that don't really understand bipolar disorder.

Many patients are more than happy to share their "up" phases to the outside world but tend to keep their depression to themselves.

While people may enjoy being around an upbeat hypomanic personality, they may find a depressive bipolar less companionable.

This makes common interactions and social events uncomfortable at best, and undesirable at worst for many bipolar patients.

It is common for patients with bipolar disorder to feel misunderstood. Unfortunately even many health care providers carry with them a biased attitude toward bipolar patients. Many have a difficult time focusing on the real reason a person is in their office. Instead they focus on the mental health issue.

Some patients feel cut off by their doctors or disregarded before they have an opportunity to get at the core of their problem. Manic patients may leave their doctor's office without their dignity and respect.

Respect and Dignity For Mental Health Patients:

What is important for patients and the public at large to realize is that bipolar patients are people too, people that deserve compassion, kindness and understanding.

Far too often even well-meaning doctors fall into the trap of generalizing the public's health or mental condition.

What is true is that all manic depressive patients are different. Not all patients are the same and what works for one may not necessarily work for another.

What the public should also realize is that according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, roughly one in five people suffers from some form of mental illness or another.

That means as a patient, you are more part of family than an outcast.

Most patients with bipolar disorder or some other form of depression are in fact, more commonly the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

Understanding this can help promote greater compassion and acceptance of manic depression and bipolar disorder.

Steps for Overcoming Fear of Bipolar Disorder:

If you or a loved one suffers from bipolar disorder or any other mental illness, there is hope. There are several strategies you can adopt to help promote your health and well being.

There are even more steps you can take to help you feel comfortable and accepted by society at large.

Here are some small steps patients and family members can take to help overcome the stigma associated with mental illness.

- Always accept your condition for what it is.

- Never attempt to hide your condition for fear that others will be un-accepting or misunderstand you.

- Educate friends and family. Direct them to a number of sites that help explain bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Great reference sites include the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

- Confidently explain that one if five people suffers from some form of mental illness or another.

- Remember that you are more an insider than you realize.

- One out of every five of your friends, acquaintances or associates likely suffers from some form of mental illness. -Use support groups to help bolster your self confidence and promote your inner peace and well being.

- Remember to always hold your head high with dignity and respect. Never accept less than the utmost respect when consulting with friends, family or your doctor.

A good friend is often a key support figure for patients suffering from bipolar disorder.

There are various online and offline support groups for patients with bipolar disorder and manic depression. Be sure you check some out to find the support you need when treating this complex and emotional disease.

Remember, there is hope. Bipolar patients are more a member of a large family than anything else.

Copyright 2006 Anne Arthur

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