World Bipolar Day: Did you know that bipolar is among the top 10 causes of disability?
The profile of mental health has been on the rise in recent years as society begins to grasp the scale of mental health issues. A particularly common example is bipolar disorder, which at any one time affects up to 51 million people around the world. Bipolar disorder is also among the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries and many of us will know someone who has been affected by it. Even though awareness of mental health is increasing and people are beginning to find the courage to talk about it, mental health still comes with a stigma attached to it.
As the above statistics demonstrate, the seriousness of mental health issues cannot be underestimated and it is important that people around the world know about and understand bipolar disorder as much as possible. And this is why initiatives like World Bipolar Day exist: to increase awareness about this debilitating disorder and fight the stigma.
Addressing the stigma is crucial because it can have a profound effect on those who are dealing with bipolar disorder. It is this stigma that stops them from seeking the treatment they so desperately need. The fear of becoming a social outcast, being treating differently, or even being branded ‘crazy’ stops people from talking about their disorder, which ultimately endangers their health.
For this reason, the World Bipolar Day movement, which takes place on 30th March 2018, is extremely important as it can prevent many people from suffering in silence and encourage them to come forward and get the treatment they require. Perhaps the biggest misconception that surrounds mental illnesses like bipolar disorder is that it they are different to other chronic conditions. Much the same as a physical complaint, mental health issues need to be treated with medication and managed carefully. Therefore, it is critical that people dealing with bipolar realize that there is no reason to feel ashamed. They should be allowed to feel comfortable speaking about it with their doctor, friends, and family – and this is a responsibility that falls on all of us.
Bipolar disorder comes in three different sub-types and can manifest itself differently in every person. Fortunately, there are treatments available for all sub-types and treatment can come in the form of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anti-psychotics. However, receiving this treatment is the most important thing to emphasize as the alternative can lead to serious consequences. Worryingly, a recent study conducted in America revealed that 55% of people living with mental illnesses do not receive treatment or are completely unaware they have one.
As with any other chronic condition like arthritis or diabetes, bipolar disorder must be carefully managed as there is no cure for it. This means frequently taking medication and often sticking to a strict schedule. Missing pills or skipping treatment can lead to relapses, so having a clear idea of how to manage treatment properly is crucial to the patient, as most of the time it will be up to him/her to do so.
It can be an arduous task staying on top of bipolar disorder, but with support from family, friends, and taking the necessary steps to stick to a treatment plan, it is possible for patients to live healthily and productively with bipolar. One way of ensuring adherence to a treatment plan is using smartphones apps designed specifically for medication adherence and health tracking. MyTherapy is one such app that has both of these functions. This app also allows patients to share their data with friends, family, or their doctor, therefore ensuring that the patient is not alone in dealing with his/her condition and adhering to all-important and life-changing medications.
MyTherapy comes with numerous features that can be tailored to the individual needs of those living with bipolar. For example, the app has a symptom and mood tracker and the option to record lab results, which can help users monitor how the body is responding to the bipolar medication. The app is simple to use and users simply need to add in their medication, dosage, and time using the app’s built-in medication database (specific to the USA) or scanning the barcode of the medication package. MyTherapy helps patients break down complex regimens into simple to-do lists and because the team at MyTherapy takes privacy seriously, users have the option to set a pass-code so that no one else can access the app and their information. The app is available for free on Android and iOS and there are no in-app purchases, meaning that all functions are available to users at all times.
Living with bipolar shouldn’t have to be a continuous and painful struggle. If we all educate ourselves on the disorder and help end the perpetuation of the stigma by being less ignorant, we can, albeit indirectly, encourage people to seek help as soon as possible.