Not so long ago, being diagnosed with a mental illness like Bipolar Disorder, also sometimes known as Manic Depression, was not good news for the sufferer or for their friends and family.
Now, according to psychiatrists Dr Diana Chan and colleague Dr Lester Sireling, there’s a new phenomena on the go where people are actually attending their doctor or mental health professional and asking to be diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Why?
“The increasing popularity of bipolar disorder may be attributed to increased media coverage, coupled with the high social status associated with celebrities such as Stephen Fry talking about their own personal experiences of mental illness” Drs Chan and Sireling said in a news release.
“This appears to have promoted the disorder as less stigmatising and acceptable to the public, a phenomenon that may have an evolutionary basis”
In recent years there have been an increasing number of celebrities coming out and talking openly about their experience of the mental illness at the same time, a general increase in public awareness of mental health problems in general.
Consequently, it’s not so terrifying for someone experiencing mood swings and other symptoms of bipolar disorder to seek help.
“Recently, we have noticed numerous GP referrals to our service where the primary request has been for a psychiatric opinion on whether the patient may have bipolar disorder, as suggested by the patient’s own self-diagnosis” says Drs Chan and Sireling.
“Also common, but less so in our experience, is the patient who attends reluctantly at the instigation of family members who are convinced they have finally made the diagnosis that can explain the awkward or embarrassing behaviour of their relative. Both types of presentation were very uncommon until about three years ago” they said.
There’s a down side to a bipolar diagnosis that Chan and Sireling say patients might not realise. For example, there are side effects to any medication that may be prescribed, plus the fact that they would also have to declare the condition to employers and insurance companies.
However, the doctors are also keen to point out that it can be equally harmful to miss a diagnosis of someone who genuinely has the disorder.
At the moment the statistics suggest that around one in 100 people have the mental illness but this figure could in fact be much higher.Learn how I beat Depression