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In the United States alone, an estimated 3.9% of all adults and up to 3% of adolescents are affected by bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Exact numbers are difficult to come by, as many people go undiagnosed or untreated.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by periods of severe mania and depression that go beyond everyday mood swings.
Bipolar disorder can be challenging to explain or even understand, which is why we’ve rounded up the best videos of the year dealing with bipolar disorder. So, whether you’re trying to understand what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, support someone managing bipolar disorder, or just want to find others who get it, we’ve got you covered.
This video from VICE offers a peek into professional skateboarder Billy Rohan’s experience living with and managing bipolar disorder. Rohan reflects on the effects of undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder, like substance abuse and homelessness. He also talks about his realization that something was wrong, finding treatment, and how friends and skateboarding help him continue to manage his bipolar disorder today.
This animation, from a TED-Ed talk, is like bipolar disorder 101. Only six minutes long, it overviews bipolar I and bipolar II disorders and their symptoms, suspected causes, and treatment options, with a few statistics sprinkled throughout. Teachers or anyone interested in learning more about bipolar disorder should be sure to check out Helen’s full lesson plan, linked in the video’s description.
CNN contributor Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down how bipolar disorder affects the brain in this quick clip. He simplifies terms like manic and depressed, reviews key statistics, and using a model of the brain, walks us through the areas affected by bipolar disorder.
YouTube blogger and musician Shannon Taylor offers a raw, emotional look into what living with bipolar disorder looks like in real time. Shannon shatters the myth that mania experienced with bipolar disorder is always either euphoric or impulsive, sharing how her mania manifests as uncontrollable anger. She also talks about bipolar cycles, social stigma, what it’s like to not be believed, and the need for a supportive, understanding community.
Part of BBC Three’s “Things Not to Say” series, this video features people living with bipolar disorder addressing unhelpful comments from outsiders. Participants react to questions ranging from “Have you taken your meds today?” to “If you could cure it, would you?” Although humorous, responses are thoughtful and give you a sense of how it feels to be asked such questions. Watch until the end for insightful responses to “What should I say?”
Produced by Families for Depression Awareness, this one-minute video is part of a series on living with bipolar disorder. This clip offers a snapshot into the life of Clara, an older woman managing bipolar disorder. Clara is living proof that living well with bipolar disorder is possible.
This video from CNN introduces how actress Victoria Maxwell, of FOX’s The X-Files, uses comedy to not only share her experience living with bipolar disorder, but also to address the social stigma around mental illness. Interspersed with clips from her show, Victoria shares how it took more than two years to find the right medication for her, and the stigma around medication.
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure what to do next. Sarah DeArmond, blogger for the International Bipolar Foundation, takes a moment in this video to share a few helpful tips for what to do when you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Guided by her personal experience, Sarah’s tips range from seeing a psychiatrist to trying new hobbies to keep busy.
As part of an online course on literature and mental health hosted by the University of Warwick, actor and writer Stephen Fry sat down with Jonathan Bate to discuss poetry and mental health. In this video, Stephen reflects on how poetry helps him manage bipolar disorder and how bipolar disorder in turn has shaped his writing process. An intriguing conversation about the relationship between mental illness and writing as a coping mechanism, this video is ideal for anyone interested in exploring this connection.
Directed toward people new to living with bipolar disorder, this animated video from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom offers an introduction to the different types of bipolar disorders. It also includes advice for managing bipolar disorder, such as learning mood management tactics with the help of a therapist.
Because bipolar disorder includes both depressive and manic episodes, it can feel like managing two illnesses at once. In this video from Big Think, Dr. Nicole Foubister talks about what depression and mania feel like, how they can each be treated, and how to support someone living with bipolar disorder. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Foubister reminds us that having bipolar disorder isn’t a choice.
In this video, Julia Wilde of DNews offers a scientific take on what it’s like to have bipolar disorder. Julia goes over the types of bipolar disorder and symptoms, including the lesser-known cyclothymic bipolar disorder. She then explores how scientists are researching bipolar disorder. Whether it’s about growing neurons from skin cells or why creative people sometimes get a boost from mania, you’re sure to learn something new about bipolar disorder.
This hour-long recorded lecture is a crash course on bipolar disorder. Dr. Patrick McKeon reviews what bipolar disorder is, how to recognize signs and symptoms, and why bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose. The second half of the lecture focuses on treatments, including medications and how they affect the body. It also has tips for living and staying well with bipolar disorder. This lecture is ideal for anyone wanting a detailed overview of bipolar disorder types, patterns, and treatments.
Part of what makes talking about bipolar disorder so challenging is the social stigma and negative stereotypes about mental illness. In this BuzzFeed video, people living with bipolar disorder address these stereotypes by responding to “I’m bipolar, but I’m not …” and “What are you?” Interspersed with statistics from the World Health Organization, this video provides a healthy dose of perspective and a reminder that living with bipolar disorder is just one part of a person’s identity.
In an effort to combat stigma, more celebrities are sharing their own experiences with mental illness. Here, singer Demi Lovato shares a little about her time managing bipolar disorder and her partnership with organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
If what you want is a clinical perspective on bipolar II disorder, licensed therapist Kati Morton has you covered. In this video, Kati breaks down the differences between bipolar I and bipolar II disorder, and walks you through diagnostic criteria with a little help from her handy DSM-5, a tool used to help diagnose mental disorders. Kati’s professional expertise and warm personality mean this video is full of information and compassion. For more basic information on bipolar disorder, check out this video by Kati.
Kristen Barta is a doctoral candidate in Communication at the University of Washington, where she researches the intersections of technology, social support, and sexual assault disclosure. Prior to graduate school, she worked as an educator and activist in the movement to end violence against women. She currently lives in the Bay Area and enjoys gardening and cooking elaborate vegetarian meals in her spare time.