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World Bipolar Day 2017

Today is World Bipolar Day, where people around the world are encouraged to raise awareness around bipolar disorders.

The initiative was set up by the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) to increase understanding and eliminate stigma of the condition. Join in the conversation on Twitter and Instagram by using #WorldBipolarDay

About bipolar disorder?

It is thought that 1-3% of the population are affected by bipolar disorder, a mental health condition which affects a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. 

Bipolar is a lifelong condition of which there are different types, and treatment often includes medication and talking therapies to help people manage their symptoms.

How can research help bipolar disorder? 

Although bipolar disorder is relatively common, there is a lack of clarity around why it occurs or how to effectively treat it.

This may be because the symptoms overlap with other conditions like depression and psychosis and people may be given the wrong diagnosis. On average, it takes 10 years to receive a diagnosis of bipolar. We’re funding Dr Martin van den Heuvel’s project which is looking at ways to reduce delayed and incorrect diagnoses for mental illness by identifying patterns that are specific conditions and others that overlap. Find out more about his project here. 

Another issue is that a common treatment for bipolar disorder is lithium, but this drug is not favoured by many people living with the condition. The lack of effective and timely treatment options can have devastating consequences, putting people at risk of suicide. 

To make progress in understanding and treating bipolar disorder, we have mapped patient and scientific priorities. We brought together patients, their families and experts across a range of scientific disciplines to chart a new path forward in research. 

The questions we all ask about bipolar

Bipolar is often misunderstood. The myths surrounding the condition can lead to prejudice.

So what are the questions we’re all asking? We took a look at Google to find out…

google screenshot of someone searching bipolar

Want answers to these common queries? Take a look at our blog

Bipolar – real stories

What does it mean to live with bipolar or have a family member with the condition?

image of model by railings

Steve explains: “My eldest sister Rosie was the first in my family to suffer from depression, when I was in my late 20s. However, it was more than 10 years before she was diagnosed as [having] bipolar after a major breakdown. About 20 years after that my younger brother Mike was similarly diagnosed. During my brother’s illness, my other sister Grace told me that she too had been under treatment for some years.

Mike attempted to take his own life seven times over 2-3 years. A few months later, he managed to get out of a supposedly secure hospital, and take his own life. I still miss him on family occasions: when well, he was the life and soul of any party.”

Read more of Steve's story. 

Rachel headshot

Rachel’s been an advocate for mental health since her mother was diagnosed with bipolar I in 2003. Two years ago, she sought an official diagnosis for her own mental health – rapid cycling bipolar II. 

Read Rachel’s story.

Last updated: 30 March 2017

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