(BlackDoctor.org) — Despite the stereotypes, mood disorders — especially bipolar disorder— are hard to recognize. Particularly in the black community where it is considered a sign of weakness to seek professional help for mental health, moodiness and anxiety may be written off as stress and a part of life. But mental health problems need just as much medical attention as physical health problems.
While there’s usually no doubt that you may have a flu or another physical condition, recognizing bipolar disorder takes a little more work. Here are some signs to look for to know when those ups and downs are more than just circumstance.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by up-and-down episodes of extreme happiness and depression. Extreme happiness, or mania, is usually characterized by a break from reality, but sometimes it’s a high-energy state that still has some basis in reality. While it lasts, the feeling of being up is euphoric and you may feel full of energy and creativity.
Depression causes lack of appetite, decrease in energy, loss of sleep and inability to focus. A person on the downward end of bipolar disorder is going to seem just like someone who has regular depression.
Unfortunately, typical antidepressants alone don’t work well for people who suffer from bipolar disorder. In fact, typical antidepressants can even make bipolar disorder worse.
Inability To Complete Tasks
Having a to-do list full of half-done tasks and projects is very symptomatic of bipolar disorder. People who can harness their energy when they are in a manic phase can be really productive. They make grand plans for things that others may even consider unrealistic. Soon, however, they are distracted by the next project and move on quickly, never finishing anything.
Some people with bipolar suffer from a state of mixed mania. In this state, they experience symptoms of mania and depression at the same time and as a result are extremely irritable. Everyone has their bad days, so this symptom of bipolar disorder is much harder to recognize. When the irritablitility interferes with relationships and the person isn’t even sure why they’re irritable, that’s a red flag.