Demi Lovato Urges Latino Americans To Accept Bipolar Disorder: ‘It Really Got My Life Off Track’

In light of Demi Lovato’s Public Announcement that she has Bipolar Disorder, a psychiatric condition that is characterized by manic phases and depressive lows, she says there is a particular subset of the population that she wants to reach: her own ethnic culture. Traditionally, it is considered shameful for many cultural groups to admit that they have a psychiatric condition or seek help for their conditions, and that includes Latinos. Many people view psychiatric illnesses much like any other illness, but there are still a few who are plagued by shame or reluctance to admit they need help. Lovato says that the disorder wreaked havoc on her life until she was properly diagnosed and treated and says that she wants others who suffer in silence to find the relief she has.

“I want to shine a light on the people out there who, like me, are learning to live well with mental illness by getting the right diagnosis and finding the right treatment plan. I want to be the most informed and powerful advocate I can be and to help people find the courage to seek help. Bipolar depression really got my life off track, but today I’m proud to say I am living proof that someone can live, love, and be well with bipolar disorder when they get the education, support, and treatment they need.”

People who live with untreated bipolar disorder frequently experience irritability, depression, impulsive behavior, interpersonal relationship problems, and are at risk for suicide. The good news is that the condition is extremely treatable and new diagnostic tools, medications, and therapies make this disorder easier to live with than ever.

Researchers conducted studies that scanned the brains of people with clinical depression and individuals with bipolar disorder, and measured reactions to emotional photographs that depicted different emotions in the two groups of people. The differences in the reactions of the brains of the two groups is an important diagnostic tool and true insight on how to treat bipolar disorder. The Study, called “State Dependent Differences” highlighted how people with bipolar disorder have difficulty regulating emotions, whether happy or sad. The report outlined some of the major differences.

“In the depressed state, patients with [major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder] differed with regard to happy vs. sad emotion regulation associated with differences in rostral anterior cingulate activity. Patients with [major depressive disorder] regulated sad and happy emotions poorly compared with those with [bipolar disorder] and healthy control participants, while they demonstrated no rostral anterior cingulate difference between happy and sad emotion regulation. In contrast, patients with [bipolar disorder] performed worse than those with [major depressive disorder] on sad emotion regulation but normal on happy emotion regulation, and they demonstrated significantly less rostral anterior cingulate activity while regulating happy compared with sad emotions.”

Demi Lovato revealed that she used to self-medicate with cocaine and remembers precisely the moment when she realized things were spiraling out of control in her life.

“I couldn’t go 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes. I had all the help in the world and I didn’t want it… (then) I hit that moment I was like, ‘it’s no longer fun. It’s no longer I’m young and rebellious and out having fun.’ It was ‘wow, I’m one of those people. I got to get my act together.'”

[image courtesy of fanpop]