You Probably Don’t Have Bipolar Disorder (Or One Of These 7 Other Conditions)

Severe depression, extreme irritability, over-exuberance: possible symptoms of bipolar disorder. Dying your hair and then missing the old color? Not bipolar disorder.

Which is why Kylie Jenner’s tweet saying as much was met with understandable backlash.

We were glad to see that Twitter users criticized her blasé misappropriation of such a serious mental illness. Bipolar disorder is all too commonly used in this way (read: not medically diagnosed), which not only minimizes the severity of actual symptoms, but also belittles the people who live with bipolar disorder every day.

Bipolar disorder is just one of many diagnoses we’d like everyone to stop misusing. Here are a few of what we’ve deemed the greatest offenders.

Bipolar Disorder
Moods change all the time, but the drastic mood swings, as well as the intense changes in energy and activity levels of someone with bipolar disorder are life-altering. People with bipolar disorder may put jobs, schoolwork, relationships and their own health and safety at risk.

About 5.7 million American adults have bipolar disorder or roughly 2.6 percent of the 18-and-over population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The urge to double check that the oven is off is wildly different from the rituals performed by people who really do have obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD. Behaviors like constant hand washing or ensuring the door is locked dozens of times truly disrupt lives. The NIMH estimates that unhealthy obsessions and compulsions take up at least an hour a day.

Approximately 2.2 million American adults have OCD. That’s about 1 percent of the adult population.

Attention disorders are often flung around cavalierly to mean any varying level of general distraction. Everyone gets lost in the occasional daydream or struggles to stay organized from time to time, but the symptoms in people with an actual diagnosis are at times insurmountable. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often miss details, forget things, talk nonstop, lose things, seem to not be listening and struggle to follow instructions, among other symptoms. The undiagnosed claiming ADD may just have popcorn brain.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) estimates that 5 percent of children have ADHD, however other surveys report up to 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 being diagnosed, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Yes, a migraine is a very bad headache. Yes, it’s difficult to know what a migraine really feels like until you’ve had one. But to call any bad headache a migraine is not just incorrect, it’s also insensitive to the people who struggle with colossal migraine pain and other frightening and uncomfortable symptoms. Throbbing or pulsing pain is often indicative of a migraine as opposed to another type of headache. Migraines are also often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound and, occasionally, nausea or vomiting. Some migraine sufferers also deal with constipation or diarrhea, confusion, irritability, muscle stiffness, fatigue or aura in the hours before the pain starts. And once the pain does start, it can last up to 72 hours. People with frequent migraines — meaning their headaches interfere with their daily lives twice a week or more — are often advised by their doctors to consider preventive treatments.

Around 36 million Americans, or 12 percent of the population, suffer from migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

Celiac Disease
There’s a difference between a stomachache and a true intolerance to gluten. Celiac disease is a reaction of the body’s immune system to gluten, which leads to inflammation that can damage the small intestine. That damage in turn can lead to bloating, diarrhea, weight loss and malabsorption of some nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic.

More than 2 million people — about 1 percent of the population — have celiac disease, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

On The Spectrum
Greater awareness of autism, Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has led to improved diagnoses, care and understanding for many, but it has also led to mass generalizations and misguided assumptions that land someone who has committed one single moment of social indiscretion “on the spectrum.”

ASD symptoms are different from person to person, but may include avoiding eye contact, difficulty understanding others’ feelings, repetitive hand or body movements and strong reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel, according to the CDC. While certain social interactions can certainly be more difficult for people with an ASD, it’s not helpful for you to blame some fleeting social anxiety on an actual disorder.

At age 8, about 1 in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder, according to the CDC, which is roughly 1 percent of the 8 year old population.

You’ve undoubtedly heard someone claim to be depressed… about the fact that his vacation is over, say, or that she has to wait until 2014 for the next season of “Orange Is The New Black.” The occasional down day does not a diagnosis make. Major depressive disorder is disabling, long-lasting sadness that makes once-enjoyable activities uninteresting. People with depression often have trouble sleeping, eating and going to work or school. Depression is a disease in the brain most likely caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors, according to the NIMH.

About 14.8 million American adults have major depressive disorder, about 6.7 percent of the adult population.

Lots of life events merit a little anxiety, like starting a new job or moving away. But people with a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) worry about things extensively, often when there is little reason to do so, to the point that their worries may even keep them from going about everyday life, according to the NIMH. Even if they realize their anxiety isn’t warranted, they have trouble relaxing. They may also have headaches and trouble sleeping, feel irritable and out of breath or startle easily.

About 6.8 million American adults — 3.1 percent of the adult population — have a generalized anxiety disorder.

What do you wish people would stop saying they have? Let us know in the comments below.

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