Bipolar Watch Launched in Wake of Sarah Palin Bipolar Accusations

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A new service known as Bipolar Watch has been launched in response to the recent labeling of Sarah Palin and other public figures as bipolar. Advocates for the bipolar community say we must correct the misconceptions created when mental health service consumers become collateral damage in culture wars or through media sensationalism.

Bipolar advocate Sarah Freeman today announced the launch of "Bipolar Watch" in order to monitor media characterizations of people living with bipolar disorder. Freeman is responding to the labeling of VP candidate Sarah Palin as bipolar in Internet blogs and forums. "These commentators apparently believe it is possible to diagnose Governor Palin as a closet sufferer of manic-depressive illness, without ever having met her or going through a formal diagnostic process. Bipolar is actually a specific medical term and the criteria for bipolar is set forth in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)", stated Freeman. "Sarah Palin is not bipolar, but another six million Americans are."

Freeman argues that for individuals who have bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive illness), or who advocate on behalf of the bipolar community, this is a disturbing development that epitomizes the extent to which bipolar has become synonymous with bad behavior. Increasingly, she claims, lay people feel free to sling the term bipolar around as a pejorative, and seem to believe they have, through pop culture osmosis, become experts on this very complex illness. "The term bipolar has become contemporary cultural shorthand for anything we interpret as extreme or obnoxious in light of our own personal belief system."

Further, according to Sarah Freeman, spokesperson for Bipolar Lives at, "Recent labeling of Sarah Palin as bipolar is unfounded, misleading, and destructive. As advocates for the bipolar community we must work hard to correct the misconceptions created when mental health service consumers become collateral damage in a bruising electoral contest."

In reality, bipolar is a spectrum of mood disorders, characterized by mood swings between mania and depression.

Bipolar Symptoms will indicate mania and/or depression. The symptoms of mania include excessive risk taking, hypersexuality, reckless financial spending, gambling or investments, and incoherently rapid and disjointed speech. Another common bipolar symptom is grandiosity, a grossly inflated sense of one's abilities and entitlements.

The bipolar community has disproportionately high rates of marriage breakdown, financial problems, substance abuse, obesity, and career under-achievement. During depressive phases, bipolar people may become withdrawn, unmotivated, despairing, or even suicidal. More information on bipolar symptoms is available at on the Bipolar Lives website.

Freeman argues that the Alaskan Governor does not fit this profile. "Sarah Palin has a very happy and successful marriage, her personal finances have been scrutinized and found above reproach through the VP vetting process, she has maintained a successful career, and does not abuse alcohol or drugs. Instead of grandiosity, Palin drives herself to work, listed the Governor's jet on e-Bay, and dispensed with the executive chef. Like many Alaskans, she does use a tanning bed during the long dark winters to fend off vitamin deficiencies and Seasonally Affective Disorder (SAD), but this is a far cry from clinical depression."

Bipolar Watch acknowledges that dissent is part of the democratic process. "Of course some voters disagree strongly with her on the important issues of the day, and will choose to support her opponents instead. It should be possible to go through this process without further caricaturing sufferers of manic-depressive illness. Invoking the specter of mental health disorders to denigrate individuals with a different political perspective is ignorant, hurtful, and childish. Governor Palin is a hard working, high functioning politician, with views some do not share. Labeling her bipolar in order to express ideological disapproval is taking a medical term already overloaded with cultural baggage, and using it to further marginalize millions of fellow citizens who bravely struggle against this misunderstood disease every day, and who are already subject to a heavy burden of stigma and ignorance."

Bipolar Watch alerts are published on the Bipolar Lives website, and are intended to educate the public about manic depressive symptoms, and the causes and treatments for bipolar disorder.

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