Most sufferers (and their families) find bipolar disorder to be profoundly disruptive to their life and disabling in many areas. There can be impacts on their work, relationships, and personal life. Though there can be some periods when they can be very productive and constructive, on balance there is much more disability than benefit.
There are a range of social and psychological treatments that are now available, as well as medicines to help most stages of the disorder. For some patients, electroconvulsive therapy can be life-saving.
It is important to recognise that the illness impacts not only on the sufferer, but also their family, friends, workmates, and others they might meet. Psychological and social rehabilitation form an integral part of most treatments that are now offered.
When troubled by the illness, or knowing someone dear to you who is troubled by the illness, it is important to recognise that assessment and treatment are available. It is quite common when feeling ill to feel that there is no hope or prospect of recovery, or alternatively to feel there is nothing wrong when others about you feel that you are not at all in good health. These are misperceptions, as effective assessment and treatment is available.
The point of first contact would normally be your local general practitioner, or alternatively in a crisis it might be through a telephone counselling service, or the Emergency Department of your nearest General Hospital. After evaluation, treatment may be offered right away, or a recommendation made for further evaluation by a psychiatrist, either as an outpatient, or in hospital leading to the commencement of effective treatment. Community groups, resources and services can also be helpful elements in knowing about the illness and in the process of recovery.
Treatment usually needs to be long-term though this depends on individual circumstances.
Knowledge about bipolar disorders and their treatments can reduce unnecessary anxieties or fears. Knowledge can also help to destigmatise this illness and its treatment.
The most common forms of depressive disorders are Major Depressive Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder.