Let’s Talk Bipolar Disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates 4.4% of American adults experience bipolar disorder in their lifetime.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels.

According to NIMH, “There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three types involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very “down,” sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.

Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed during late adolescence or early adulthood. Occasionally, bipolar symptoms can appear in children. Although the symptoms may vary over time, the diagnosis usually requires lifelong treatment. Following a prescribed treatment plan can help people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

“Sometimes a person might experience symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not match the three categories listed above, and this is referred to as “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.”

National Institute of Mental Health

World Bipolar Day

Celebrated each year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

World Bipolar Day’s ultimate goal is to inspire a global shift in thinking that will eliminate social stigma and promote acceptance.

The vision of World Bipolar Day (WBD) is to bring world awareness to bipolar conditions and eliminate social stigma. Through international collaboration, the goal of WBD is to bring the world population information about bipolar conditions that will educate and improve sensitivity towards the condition.

WBD is an initiative of the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) in collaboration with the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorders (ANBD) and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD).

For those living with bipolar disorder, World Bipolar Day offers an opportunity to connect with others as well as assistance in gaining access to valuable resources and relationships that can improve their lives through treatment.

Combat the Stigma Surrounding Bipolar Disorder

Mental Health America covers several aspects of bipolar disorder in an effort to #breakthestigma

Bipolar disorder affects every aspect of life

It may be difficult to fully comprehend the toll bipolar disorder can take on someone because it is an invisible illness. Bipolar disorder can be as crippling –impacting relationships, working, and all aspects of everyday life—from sleeping to showering.

Bipolar disorder has many causes, from genetics to life events

After a study that spanned nearly two decades, a team from the University of Michigan found that there is no single genetic change, life event, or chemical brain imbalance that could be the root cause of bipolar disorder. Many times, it is a combination of several biological and environmental factors that can trigger bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder rarely exists alone

As if a mood disorder that involves long-spanning depressions and manic episodes wasn’t enough to deal with, bipolar disorder can also come with other physical and psychological conditions to worry about.

Everyone’s bipolar disorder is different

Bipolar disorder is like fingerprints and snowflakes—no two people have the exact same symptoms and each diagnosis can vary greatly. However, there are two main types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I which is characterized by one or more manic episodes that last at least a week and require hospitalization; and bipolar II, which is characterized by more depressive episodes.

It is life-threatening, and support is vital

An estimated 1 in 5 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder dies by suicide. Use WBD as an opportunity to show those living with the day-to-day challenges of this condition they are not alone, they have your support, and there is always hope.

Bipolar disorder can feel isolating

77% of bipolar-I participants said living with the disorder made them feel isolated or alone, and 81% reported feeling like no one understands what they go through. Take time to connect and remind folks that they are not alone in what they’re going through.

“The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out alright.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Are you in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis?

When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems affect them, provide support, and connect them to necessary resources.

Call or Text 9-8-8

Local Resources

Mental health resources available in Lehigh County.

Lehigh County Warmline

Phone: 610-820-8451

Warmline is a confidential 7 days/week telephone support service manned by trained mental health consumers.  Warmline operates daily but is not able to accept calls between 2-6am.

National Alliance on Mental Health – Lehigh Valley

Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255

Information: 1-800-273-8255

The families and members of NAMI Lehigh Valley are here to help! We offer understanding to anyone concerned about mental illnesses and the treatment of mental illness. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with mental illness and their families through support, education, and advocacy.

Parkland Community Library

We know mental health can be a difficult topic to talk about. As library staff, we are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to ask. You are not alone!

If you would prefer to browse on your own, the call numbers below will help you get started.

  • Alcoholism 362.292
  • Anxiety 616.8522
  • Bipolar Disorder 616.895
  • Depression 616.8527
  • Drug Addiction 362.29
  • Eating Disorders 616.85
  • Suicide 362.2

State Resources

Mental health resources available in the state of Pennsylvania.

Resources from the State of Pennsylvania

Find help and treatment options, complete a mental health screening, and more.

National Resources

Mental health resources available to anyone in the United States.

988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine

Phone or Text: 9-8-8

9-8-8 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline), and is now active across the United States.

When people call, text, or chat 9-8-8, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems affect them, provide support, and connect them to necessary resources.

The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Phone: 800-950-6264

Text: “HelpLine” to 62640

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

NAMI envisions a world where all people affected by mental illness live healthy, fulfilling lives supported by a community that cares. The organization provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

The Trevor Project

Phone: 866-488-7386

Text: 678-678

Two decades ago, The Trevor Project responded to a health crisis. Their mission is to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning young adults. The organization envisions a world where all LGBTQ+ young people see a brighter future for themselves.

Our Book Suggestions

Our World Bipolar Day booklist is packed with stories about bipolar disorder.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Told in alternating voices, when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school–both teetering on the edge–it’s the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the “natural wonders” of the state of Indiana, and two teens’ desperate desire to heal and save one another.

The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson

In a collection of personal comics that span eight years of her young adult life, author-illustrator Noelle Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world.

Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel Nimona, Noelle captures the little and big moments that make up real life, with wit, wisdom, and vulnerability that are all her own.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce?

It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, a dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes—the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned.

Learn more about the importance of mental health

Browse resources, download coloring pages, and more!

This post is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services.