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March 30th is World Bipolar Day

We're coming up on World Bipolar Day this March 30, so we thought it would be a good time to discuss this particular mental illness and how it can affect those who suffer from it.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental condition, and there are a number of misconceptions about it. Those misconceptions can actually make it harder for people with the disorder to function. World Bipolar Day is designed to bring awareness of the disease, dispel misinformation and help eliminate the social stigma that sufferers often face.

Here are some of the most important things you should know about bipolar disorder:

Bipolar disorder cannot be controlled without treatment.

Bipolar disorder involves a complex issue within the human brain. It is not a figment of someone's imagination, nor is it "merely" mood swings. In extreme cases, it can cause acute spells of actual psychosis.

Because bipolar disorder is a malfunction of the brain's chemistry, it cannot be "cured" through things like diet, exercise, reflexology, yoga or meditation. Sheer willpower also cannot overcome the disorder.

Bipolar treatment is time-consuming and complex.

Most people with bipolar disorder require several different types of treatment. It often requires medication -- or a combination of medications -- to correct the sufferer's brain chemistry. In addition, many bipolar sufferers will also need therapy to cope with emotional problems associated with their disorder or co-morbid conditions (such as panic attacks or anxiety).

Bipolar disorder can often be successfully treated. About 30 percent of bipolar victims can live quite well once they receive treatment. Another 40 percent will see their symptoms reduced significantly -- and may be able to work and function fairly well in society, with limited adjustments.

Unfortunately, that means that around 30 percent of bipolar patients will not respond well to medication and therapy. Those sufferers often cannot hold a job or function in a stable manner -- no matter how hard they try. It isn't a personal failing on their part; they are the victims of an invisible illness that cannot yet be cured.

If you suffer from a mental illness like bipolar disorder, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Contact an attorney to learn more about your rights -- even if you've applied before and been denied.

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