Frequently Asked Questions:
What is stigma?
A. Stigma is a negative judgement upon the attributes of a person that cause people to devalue or think less of that person. People may distance themselves from individuals who are in stigmatized groups as well as they may discriminate against them.
Stigma often arises with individuals struggling with mental illness and with those struggling from addiction. Those who struggle with these issues may be perceived as weak, incapable, or “less than” because of their symptoms.
What is bipolar disorder?
A. In Western Medicine Bipolar Disorder is believed to be a chemical imbalance in the brain causing fluctuating mood swings from manic highs to suicidal lows. It is also known as manic-depression. There are two types of Bipolar Disorder, type I and type II. Type I struggles with mania followed by depression while type II struggles with hypomania followed by a depression.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
A. Taken from HelpGuide.org:
Symptoms of Mania:
- A persistent elevated mood
- Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic
- Feeling extremely irritable
- Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s ‘powers’ or abilities
- Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
- Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
- Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
- Highly distractible, unable to concentrate
- Impulsiveness and impaired judgement
- Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
- Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases, known as psychosis)
Symptoms of Depression:
-Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
-Inability to experience pleasure
-Fatigue or loss of energy
-Physical and mental sluggishness
-Appetite or weight changes
-Concentration and memory problems
-Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
-Thoughts of death or suicide
What is hypomania?
A. Hypomania is a lesser form of mania. The symptoms of hypomania are almost identical to the symptoms of mania, the key difference is in the severity. Mania is dangerous because people can endanger themselves or parts of their life. When someone is suffering from mania they can feel elated. In that state they often want to feel more elated. An example is going shopping, racking up credit cards, spending hundreds of dollars a person doesn't have to spend. Mania often requires psychiatric hospitalization. Hypomania on the other hand does not always require hospitalization, even though it can cause harm to the person or their lifestyle. A person experiencing mania buys 20 pairs of shoes, while a person experiencing hypomania buys 10.
Is bipolar disorder dangerous?
A. Left untreated, bipolar disorder can impact every aspect of one's life. It can lead to substance abuse problems, legal and/or financial problems, to self harm and to suicide.
What are the treatment options for bipolar disorder?
A. I don’t know all the treatment options for bipolar disorder. A few options I do know about are pharmaceutical medications such as mood stabilizers and cognitive behavioral therapy. Other areas that I've found have an impact on mental and emotional wellness are nutrition, incorporating exercise, getting a good nights sleep and having connection with others, yourself, animals, nature and your higher power (if you believe in one).
Is there hope for those struggling with bipolar disorder?
A. Bipolar disorder is a serious illness that can take years to find the right therapy and medication combination. Bipolar disorder can be life threatening, but there are many treatment options available with new treatment options on the horizon (please talk with your family doctor to know more). There are also many support groups available for friends, family, and those suffering from the illness itself. So yes, there is hope for those struggling with bipolar disorder.
What is psychosis? And what is drug psychosis?
A. Psychosis means psychotic, which is a very broad term but in general refers to delusions and hallucinations. Drug psychosis simply means going psychotic because of the use of drugs.
What are delusions and hallucinations?
A. Taken from MedMD: "A delusion is when someone can't tell what's real from what's imagined.
Types of Delusions
The types are based on the main theme of the delusion:
Erotomanic: The person believes someone is in love with them and might try to contact that person. Often it’s someone important or famous. This can lead to stalking behavior.
Grandiose: This person has an over-inflated sense of worth, power, knowledge, or identity. They could believe they have a great talent or made an important discovery.
Jealous: A person with this type believes their spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful.
Persecutory: Someone who has this believes they (or someone close to them) are being mistreated, or that someone is spying on them or planning to harm them. They might make repeated complaints to legal authorities.
Somatic: They believe they have a physical defect or medical problem.
Mixed: These people have two or more of the types of delusions listed above."
B. A hallucination is to hear, smell, see, feel or taste something through your bodily senses that isn’t there. An example would be hearing voices.
Is psychosis dangerous?
A. Psychosis is a serious ailment that if left untreated can lead to illness, injuries, legal and financial difficulties, and even death. A person in psychosis may also become a danger to others. These are the incidents that often make the news. The words psychotic and psychosis are majorly stigmatized because of this. Most people in psychosis however, are more likely to have harm done to them than to do harm to others. A spiritual experience is seen as psychotic in Western medicine. Experiencing psychosis does not automatically make someone a threat to themselves nor others. The largest signal that a person may harm someone else (if they are mentally ill or not) is if they have committed a violent act in the past.
What are the treatment options for psychosis?
A. I can only write on my personal experience of the topic. All the psychoses I've experienced to date have been drug induced. Once I removed the drugs, the psychosis went away. I don’t know all the treatment options for psychosis. One option I do know about is pharmaceutical medications such as antipsychotics. Please contact a medical professional to learn what treatment options are available.
Is there hope for those struggling with psychosis?
A. Yes, there is hope. Symptoms can improve. I know from personal experience how much shame and embarrassment can accompany coming out of psychosis, back to reality. If this is you, please seek out support. Open up in safe spaces about the experience. Know that I'm also a certified Peer Support worker so please feel free to contact me if you want to talk about it.
To find a list of mental health resources, please click here. To know more about bipolar disorder, psychosis or for any other mental health questions please contact a medical professional.