World Bipolar Day

Thanks to campaigns like World Mental Health Day and Bell Let’s Talk, individuals, young and old, are starting to open up more and more about their struggles with mental illness. These initiatives also give individuals strength to seek treatment, either from a physician or other therapy such as counselling. While the messages is definitely getting through, many healthcare providers and organizations in Vancouver and all across Canada want to continue the discussion to put an end to the stigma that surrounds mental illness as well as to provide ongoing resources to individuals and families who may be struggling.

In previous articles, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary has discussed depression and anxiety — two common mental health disorders that often co-occur with each other. Nearly 5 million Canadians over the age of 18 will have experienced a mental health disorder at least once in their lives, having a significant impact on their ability to lead normal lifestyles — including affecting their performance at work or school and having a major impact on personal relationships. Common symptoms of depression and anxiety include feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, loss of interest in certain activities, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, changes in weight, and panic attacks.

Bipolar disorder is another common mental health disorder, though it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. There are two types of bipolar disorders — these are known as Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Symptoms of Bipolar I that physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will often notice in patients include depression, irritability and manic episodes, whereas individuals with Bipolar II experience episodes of hypomania. While these symptoms have very similar characteristics, the difference between the two is that individuals with hypomania (Bipolar II) seem less impaired than individuals who suffer from mania (Bipolar I). Mania may also include other symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. Individuals with manic episodes can become violent, resulting in hospitalization, whereas individuals with hypomania do not. While the main cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, several factors play a role including stress, lack of sleep, substance and drug abuse.

To provide Canadians, healthcare professionals and individuals all across the world with a better understanding of the disease, the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) came up with the idea of World Bipolar Day, occurring on March 30th each year. It is also the hope of the creators of WBD to eliminate the social stigma that surrounds mental health.

For more information on how you can get involved in World Bipolar Day, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary. More details and great resources are also available via the World Bipolar Day website at



Dr. Ali Ghahary is a Family Physician in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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