Preface: I have been psychiatrist diagnosed as bipolar within the past several years. A physical ailment is easy to explain because most people can identify it. If you have a broken leg, a cast is put on it (depending on the factors) and in a matter of weeks, it comes off and you're on your way. Even if someone hasn't had that, they recognize the problem and can empathize. When it comes to a mental disorder, getting someone to get on board with understanding isn't so easy. You don't see them like a broken leg. The condition must be observed, and this often takes time. Unfortunately, a quick glance doesn't do much without knowing the person's history. You can't look at a person at say they have schizophrenia, or they're suffering from disassociative identity disorder. No. Unfortunately, the professional must witness and/or draw from accounts of witnesses which may include the subject in question. Another thing: it's possible to start with the wrong diagnosis. As a personal example, I was initially diagnosed with depression, but after another persons off-handed comment about being bipolar, I took an online test and ranked very high in the categories for the disorder. This wasn't that we or the doctor were lying or otherwise withholding information, but that some things hadn't been considered. However, it did go to explain why anti-depressants were having little success. Medicine: Depending on the case and illness, medication is a treatment option. And, depending on your particular illness, certain classes are likely to be used. One medication I took made me ridiculously drowsy the evening I took it. I was out and it was an miracle I made it home. The last thing I remember before passing out on the couch was my wife yelling for me to help with the kids. I woke up the following afternoon, and I was still tired. We decided between that and the $300 a month it wasn't an option. When I had a mixed-state (This day is amazing, and I think I'm going to hang myself now.---No, I am dead serious on how jacked those are.), that's when I moved to Lithium, one of the oldest meds for bipolar disorder and the regular blood tests. This checks to make sure my blood is within range and my kidney's aren't going to hell. FYI, lithium is a salt, so it can mess with body fluids. Side effects can be nasty, but compared to being the way I was, this is a good trade-off. Okay, People generally have some idea of depression. It's more than the blues or simple sadness. You have to feel down for a few weeks to technically be considered depressed. Bipolar disorder is a cycle between depression and mania. Mania may not be so familiar. You can have lots of energy (hey, I just cleaned the entire house, the garage, washed the car, did the laundry,....) and be productive, but wait, there's more...or less. Like inhibitions. Would you like a new car? Got it now. You may also indulge in an affair, or think you're the next Tony Hawk. Or, YOU BETTER GET SOME STUFF DONE NOW! LET'S GO GO GO GO GO (me, at small children). For me, it can be a constant agitation where I can't be still. If I'm not talking, you won't notice it, or with a second medication involved.