In 1949, Mental Health America named May as Mental Health Month. The purpose of the observance is to bring about awareness and spread the word that mental health is something everyone should care about. Awareness to other groups within that community has since grown with the first Thursday in May designated as National Children’s Mental Health Day.
World Diabetes Day, World Cancer Day, and even World Egg Day. And now, drum roll please, World Bipolar Day (WBD). WBD is a day to bring about awareness of bipolar disorder. It is the brainchild of Dr. Pichet Udomratn, a member of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD), who collaborated with International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) to bring his idea to fruition. Now each year, WBD will be celebrated on March 30, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.
Last week I received a call from a colleague inquiring whether I had heard about the recent homicide that occurred not too far from where I live. I had not, but quickly researched the incident.
At a recent summer BBQ, I sat quietly at a picnic table while the other mothers bragged about their children. “Tommy scored the winning goal in the lacrosse playoffs,” beamed Sally. “Jessica was accepted to all five of her top college choices, and is going to Stanford,” boasted Lucinda. “Greg won the debate contest, Carla got perfect SAT’s, Matthew landed a job at Deloitte"…the list of accomplishments was endless.
Bipolar disorder affects 5.7million American adults. For each person with this disorder, or any other malady for that matter, there are millions more who are their caregivers.
Did you know most people spend one third of their lives sleeping? Healthy sleep patterns are an important part of our life, especially for those who have bipolar disorder or other mood disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, sleep disturbance is a core symptom of bipolar disorder. The diagnostic criteria indicate that during manic episodes there may be a reduced need for sleep and during episodes of depression, insomnia or hypersomnia can be experienced nearly every day. Therefore, good sleep hygiene, a pillar of the treatment plan, is very important.
Summer vacation will soon arrive. Parents and children alike often see this as a time to relax. Household rules may become more lax, bedtimes later, chores not upheld, play dates increase and thoughtful meal planning takes a back seat. For most children, this lack of structure, although initially welcomed, becomes a burden to all concerned. For those with bipolar disorder (and other behavioral and emotional issues), the lack of structure only complicates the course of the illness, often times upsetting the stability that was present during the school year.
For those who live in the northern hemisphere, days are short, sunshine is minimal and temperatures are low. All of these factors, alone or combined, can bring with them the winter blues. For those already coping with a mood disorder, winter may trigger more serious symptoms including those related to Season Affective Disorder (SAD) or bipolar disorder. In fact, according to researcher Jess Fiedorowicz, (Bipolar Disorder 2013), depressive symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder peak in the winter.
For some, the holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends, gift giving, festive parties, shopping sprees, cookie exchanges, caroling and more. For others, the holidays are a lonely time, evidenced perhaps by the lack of all the joy experienced by others. For most though, the holidays are a time, good or bad, which can be filled with stress.
As the crisp autumn days get colder and shorter, we are reminded that the holidays are not far behind. For many, the holidays include travel plans. Whether it’s travel for a vacation or to visit friends and relatives, we can rest assured that accompanying stress will be part of the package. Regardless of your experience with travel, it is a different thing entirely when you add on a layer of anxiety-laced bipolar disorder.