99 Bipolar Disorder Facts

99 Bipolar Disorder Facts

Great list of truths from bipolarlives.com:

Bipolar Basics

1. Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depressive illness.

2. It is a MOOD DISORDER characterized by MOOD SWINGS between the “highs” of bipolar mania and the “lows” of depression.

3. It is an episodic illness. In between episodes of bipolar mania and/or depression, there will usually be periods of stable or “normal” moods and wellness.

4. The usual age of onset is late teens to early twenties.

5. Bipolar disorder is NOT CURABLE and must be controlled by mood stabilizing medication. This is one of the most unpalatable but important bipolar disorder facts.

6. Despite being a life long illness, bipolar disorder is very manageable. In fact, it is one of the “best” mental illnesses to have in that there are many effective bipolar treatments available.

7. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression in women or schizophrenia in men.

Reminder

Bipolar is frequently misdiagnosed so make sure you see an experienced psychiatrist.

8. Another common misdiagnosis is to pronounce someone bipolar when they really have borderline personality disorder.

9. Untreated bipolar disorder is dangerous and may lead to suicide during depression, or self destructive activities during bipolar mania such as wild spending, crazy business ventures, sexual promiscuity or infidelity and other high risk behavior.

10. Bipolar disorder must be diagnosed and treated by an experienced psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders.

Bipolar resources you can trust

Bipolar disorder facts need to be distinguished from bipolar fictions.

The best source for bipolar disorder facts.

Use these reputable and independent sources for accurate information about bipolar disorder:

11. Facts on Bipolar Disorder from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

13. Bipolar Disorder from the Mayo Clinic

14. International Bipolar Foundation

15. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

Are you bipolar?

One of the most frustrating bipolar disorder facts is the difficulty of accurate diagnosis.

You may have bipolar order if you answer “YES” to ALL of the following questions.

If the following self-screen for bipolar is positive, you should see a psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders to confirm ad discuss any possible diagnosis of bipolar disorder. One of the frustrating bipolar disorder facts is that it requires highly skilled diagnosis.

16. Have you experienced depression for an extended period (at least 2 weeks)?

17. Was this depression so serious that it made your usual activities such as work or study impossible, or only barely possible through great personal effort?

18. As well as the serious lows of depression, have you also experienced periods of “highs” – of being so “up” that it felt like more than normal happiness?

19. Have you experienced periods of needing only small amounts (3-5 hours at most) of sleep?

20. Have you experienced racing thoughts or rapid, pressured speech?

21. Have you ever engaged in reckless behavior such as shopping sprees, credit card binges or out of character promiscuous sex?

22. Have you ever had so much extra energy that you took on lots of extra projects, or needed lots of extra activity and stimulation or social contact?

23. Have these “ups” ever led to serious problems such as conflict at work or in your marriage or legal problems?

24. Do you have a close relative such as a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, or aunt who has bipolar disorder?

25. Has a psychiatrist or other mental health professional ever suggested to you that may have bipolar disorder?

THERE IS NO BLOOD TEST, X-RAY, BRAIN SCAN, MRI, GENETIC TEST, OR OTHER “MEDICAL” TEST THAT CAN IDENTIFY BIPOLAR DISORDER.

Bipolar symptoms

Symptoms of bipolar depression include:

26. Persistent empty or “blue” feeling.

27. Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities.

28. Sleep changes – either insomnia or excessive sleep.

29. Lack of motivation and neglect of routine tasks such as personal grooming.

30. Indecision.

Symptoms of bipolar mania include:

31. Reduced need for sleep.

32. Grandiose plans and beliefs that are not realistic.

33. Racing thoughts.

34. Taking on multiple projects and marked increase in goal directed behavior.

35. Risk taking behavior and distorted judgment, for example crazy business schemes, reckless investments, sexual indiscretions, shopping sprees, gambling binges.

Causes of bipolar

36. Genetics. Bipolar disorder is NOT ALWAYS inherited and in even in identical twins, both do not always develop the disorder. Thus, although hereditary factors are a major risk factor in developing bipolar disorder, it is not a purely genetic illness.

37. Neurotransmitter imbalances and other brain chemistry disturbances.

38. Stress. Someone with a predisposition to bipolar may go on to develop the illness if triggered by stress.

39. Environmental factors such as seasonal changes or sleep deprivation sometimes precipitate the onset of bipolar episodes.

40. Pregnancy. Obviously pregnancy in and of itself does not cause bipolar disorder. However, like stress, giving birth can trigger the initial episode in a woman with a predisposition to the illness.

Types of bipolar disorder

41. Bipolar Type 1 is characterized by at least one manic or mixed episode. The mania in Bipolar 1 is serious and can even involve bipolar psychosis.

42. Bipolar Type 2 is characterized by at least one hypomanic episode, (hypomania meaning literally ‘below mania’), and one major depressive episode.

43. The third bipolar type is called cyclothymia. This is a serious mental and mood disorder that causes depressive and hypomanic episodes. Medically it is defined as recurrent cycles of sudden hypomania and dysthymic episodes.

44. If you do not fit into any one of these categories, you may be diagnosed as bipolar disorder NOS, not otherwise specified.

45. Some experts such as Dr Jim Phelps also consider the types of bipolar disorder to include Bipolar Type 3 – when an antidepressant causes the patient to switch into mania or hypomania.

Bipolar medications

46. Bipolar medications may be altered depending on the phase of the illness. A different combination of meds may be required for maintenance, as opposed to managing an episode of acute bipolar mania or acute depression.

47. Lithium is the best known med for treating bipolar because it is a MOOD STABILIZER and is effective in treating both mania and depression, as well as for preventing relapse.

48. Sometimes antidepressants are used to treat bipolar depression but this can be controversial because of the possibility of an antidepressant causing a switch into mania. This is one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated bipolar disorder facts.

49. Some atypical (latest generation) anti-psychotics have been approved for treating bipolar disorder as research has shown them to have mood stabilizing properties on top of their utility for bipolar mania.

50. Another of the misunderstood bipolar disorder facts is that most people spend MUCH MORE time experiencing depression as opposed for mania, and the best treatment for bipolar depression seems to be a combination of Lithium and Lamotrigine (Lamictal).

Bipolar treatments

51. All of these bipolar disorder facts are important. BUT some bipolar disorder facts are more important than others. In terms of getting well and staying well, it is critical to understand that the most proven approach is to COMBINE MEDICATION AND TALK THERAPY. Not everyone wants to be psychoanalyzed, but there are other forms of talk therapy that are effective bipolar treatments:

52. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has a good track record as a bipolar disorder treatment. CBT helps us identify our self-defeating, unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and teaches how to replace these with more constructive, realistic and helpful beliefs and actions. This can be very useful in recognizing the stressors that trigger our bipolar episodes and learning to control them.

53. Psycho-education is all about learning as much as possible about bipolar disorder. Understanding your illness promotes treatment compliance (such as taking bipolar medications) and helps in determining the best treatments for you as an individual and also in recognizing warning signs of mania and depression so that bipolar episodes can be minimized and controlled.

54. Narrative therapy which helps someone with bipolar disorder understand the stories they tell themselves and to externalize their bipolar disorder in order to better solve associated problems.

55. Solution Focused Therapy which differs from some talk therapy in that it is oriented towards the present and future and to practical solutions, rather than exploring the past or dwelling on problems.

56. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) is a treatment program that stresses maintaining a regular schedule of daily activities and stability in personal relationships. It is PROVEN to be very effective for people with bipolar disorder and is one of my own preferred approached. I would call it one of the best kept bipolar disorder facts secrets!

57. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) used to be one of the ugly bipolar disorder facts that nobody liked to talk about. Although still something of a bipolar treatment of last resort, ECT is now administered in much reduced strengths and so has far fewer side effects. It is worth considering when bipolar medications are ineffective or during pregnancy when medications may put an unborn baby at risk.

58. Natural Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

59. Bipolar Treatment Centers

Caring for a loved one with bipolar disorder

60. Take stock of your own mood patterns. One of the stranger bipolar disorder facts is the phenomenon known as assortative mating where studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to couple with individuals who also have a mood disorder.

61. Carers need to be very well informed about all bipolar disorder facts. BOTH of you should work hard to learn as much as possible.

62. Put a “Wellness Plan” and “Treatment Contract” in place in case of emergencies.

63. Compliance is key. A relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder is much more “do-able” if they are taking their meds and participating in therapy.

64. Who cares for the carer? Make sure there is support there for the carer as well as the patient in case of a relapse into mania or depression.

65. Life and love with someone who has bipolar disorder is like any relationship, including challenges and rewards. Remember that this is a manageable illness. If treatment is followed then there will be positives such as a companion who is creative and captivating.

More bipolar disorder facts from Bipolar-Lives.com

66. Bipolar Disorder Statistics

67. Discovery of Bipolar Disorder

68. History of Bipolar Disorder

69. Bipolar Disorder and Creativity

Myths about bipolar disorder

70. A common myth is that bipolar disorder, once correctly diagnosed, is a distinct, precise illness. In fact there there are several types of bipolar disorder. In particular, Bipolar Type 1 as opposed to Bipolar Type 2. Bipolar disorder facts increasingly also require an understanding of soft bipolar and the bipolar spectrum.

71. Another myth is that mania is a fun high that is like an exaggerated form of being “the life and soul of the party”. Mania takes many different forms and can manifest as extreme irritability or even psychosis.

72. It is also a myth that bipolar people are crazy. They have a mood disorder and in between the highs of mania and lows of depression may have long and/or frequent periods of stable moods where they function well. The true bipolar disorder facts are that many people go months or even years without an episode.

73. Another common misunderstanding relates to workplace functioning. Although some people are disabled by their bipolar disorder, more than 75% are successful at work.

74. Medication myths go both ways. Some folks mistakenly believe that bipolar is untreatable, while others believe that bipolar medications are a “cure”. On the positive side, there are a variety of bipolar medications available and finding effective treatment just may take some people a little longer. A less palatable of bipolar disorder facts is bipolar medications control but do not cure the illness. It is necessary to always take meds, even when stable and everything is going well.

75. The myth that bothers me most is that bipolar disorder is not a real illness. Although bipolar disorder is episodic and very treatable, it is a serious illness and if untreated can lead to suicide and other terrible consequences.

76. Related to the myth above is the notion that bipolar is just a fashionable excuse for bad behavior and means whatever the “sufferer” wants it to mean. Bipolar disorder has a clear clinical definition and has been a documented chronic illness for over 2,000 years.

77. A myth I was WISH was true is that people with bipolar disorder are all creative geniuses. Although there is a VERY STRONG link between bipolar disorder and creativity, it is possible to have bipolar disorder and not be especially creative or extra intelligent.

78. This one is not exactly a myth. It is more like one of the most surprising bipolar disorder facts – having bipolar disorder is not all consuming. Sometimes I snap at my stepson because I am just another another mom having a bad day. It does not mean I am manic. Sometimes I cry during a movie. this does not mean I am depressed. If I drive a little recklessly sometimes it may be I am simply running late. If I ace a job interview, it may be because I was well prepared, not because of my “hypomanic edge”.

79. One of the most misunderstood bipolar disorder facts is that bipolar disorder is not linked to criminal or violent behavior. The truth is that someone with bipolar disorder is more likely to be a victim of violence or crime rather than a perp.

Bipolar disorder and physical health

Some of the most important, least understood bipolar disorder facts relate to physical health:

80. People with bipolar disorder are twice as likely to die early from a medical illness.

81. The main cause of premature death for people who have bipolar disorder are “lifestyle” or preventable/controllable factors such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

82. This increased risk of early death applies equally to both men and women with bipolar disorder.

83. People with bipolar disorder are over twice as likely to smoke (51% versus 23%).

84. Bipolar disorder is also strongly correlated with overweight and obesity. One study showed bipolar disorder to be the mental health problem most strongly linked to weight gain. Some research has indicated rates as high as 68% of overweight and obesity in bipolar populations.

85. These weight problems are also correlated with poorer overall mental health outcomes. For example, obese people with bipolar disorder have more episodes of both mania and depression, more serious episodes and more frequent episodes.

86. Bipolar frequently co-occurs with substance abuse.

87. Bipolar frequently co-occurs with alcoholism.

88. The new atypical anti-psychotics that have become popular bipolar medications have serious side impacts that impact physical health and are especially tied to weight gain and diabetes.

89. On March 12, 2002, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ruled that bipolar disorder is actual a physical illness because it can be inherited, can sometimes be identified by brain scans, and is in fact a is a neuro-biological disorder characterized by chemical imbalances in the brain.

Living with bipolar – top 10 tips

90. Stay on your bipolar medications and do not make any changes without discussing your meds with your psychiatrist.

91. Do not use recreational or street drugs.

92. Minimize alcohol or abstain completely.

93. Maintain a regular sleep schedule.

94. Maintain a regular exercise schedule.

95. Control weight and mood swings by eating plenty of lean protein and vegetables, taking folic acid and fish oil, and avoiding sugar, “bad” fats, and simple carbs.

96. Join a bipolar disorder support group, for example through your local DBSA.

97. Make charting your moods on a Bipolar Mood Chart a daily practice.

98. Create a Wellness Plan and a Treatment Contract.

99. Read and learn everything you can about bipolar disorder!

Source: bipolarlives.com

The Truth About Recovery

There is a misconception about mental illness and recovery. It’s not the same as recovering from the flu, or a broken bone. Recovery for a mental disorder is an ongoing process. It’s about managing the symptoms and finding the right treatment. I know for me, as I’ve gotten older, my illness has gotten more severe, thus requiring varying degrees of treatment in order to aid in my recovery process.

Recovery

Positivity and Creativity for a Healthy Mind

I was determined to start this weekend better than the ones I’ve had in recent months. No demons allowed, only positive, healthy activities. Since photography is one of my long lost hobbies, I decided to tackle the project of my son’s 9-month photos. It was a beautiful day for the nearby park. My baby finally fit into the outfit his aunt gave him. My wife agreed to help me. I had no excuses.

I did have a period of irritability when a fellow amateur photographer made some rude remarks, setting me off. My wife had to stop me from fighting with her. Other than that, we had a really great day. And his photos turned out really great too!

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I practiced positive thinking, while utilizing creativity, in a healthy manner. I’m pleased to say that I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something to nurture my mind and abilities. I know it’s not always easy but I consider today a baby step.

 

Kindly Disregard my Absence, for my Brain Has Been All-Consuming

Hey hey everyone. I didn’t mean to ignore you recently. I’ve been riding the train of instability. a.k.a. mood swings, hallucinations, irritability, and  suicidal thoughts. My mind is currently numb and I’m a little lightheaded, but allow me to get you up to speed.

64743d1eacbd79e683a776b1ee3c34f6Suicide Stuff Again…

I know I talk about my suicidal ideation pretty often, so I apologize that I’m bringing it up again. I’ll make it brief, I promise. The last couple of months, my mind has been stepping into the dark territory again. It automatically starts developing plans and twisted theories. ( Example: “If I do it while my son is still a baby, I won’t give him an abandonment complex.”) I would try to get these things to stop entering my brain, but like clockwork, every morning, I obsessed about death. This has been constant for at least two months. It usually fades into the afternoon, so I would just try really hard to not allow it back in. I spoke of it only a little bit with my wife because I know she hates when I talk about it. She thinks I’m morbid (duh!) and it brings her down. Not my goal at all. She did make me agree to a no-harm pact before she and my son went out of town for the weekend, leaving me at home. I agreed to it. It gave her peace of mind.

WTF is THAT?!?!

Never in my life have I had visual hallucinations. I mean naturally. I’ve battled auditory hallucinations for years. Usually I hear voices speaking to me, or chatter, or music playing. About three weeks ago I saw a spider. Then I saw another spider the next day. The day after that I saw a spider on the wall. Okay, no bid deal, right? I live in the Midwest and spiders are part of the woodwork. Except these spiders didn’t start off as spiders. An imperfection on the wall. A leaf. A piece of lint I spot from the corner of my eye. They all grew legs and started moving around. They were in my kitchen, my car, my bedroom, bathroom, even at the office. I did tell my wife about the spiders and she looked panicked, but remained calm and urged me to talk to my pdoc.

The Appointment…

I’m not crazy about my psychiatrist. I mean, he’s alright, but I don’t love him. I’ve been seeing him for over eight years now and we have a customized payment plan, which I appreciate. He is very educated and has many, many fancy plaques on his wall. He dresses in funky plaid suits and hates the government. And he makes me feel like he thinks I’m crazy. No joke, I tell him about the spiders and his eyes widen, almost in disbelief. Really? Like isn’t he the ONE person obligated to not make me feel crazy? Anyway, I suggested increasing my Seroquel. He decided to put me back on Abilify. I just got him to take me off of it a few months ago, and now I’m back on it.

Drugs Drugs Drugs!

It’s been five days and the side effects are certainly present. I don’t feel better yet. But I am hopeful. My next appointment with Dr. Plaid is in a couple of weeks, and I am to call him next week for an update. Until then, my upper body is tingling, my arms are tingling and restless, I feel lightheaded, and my body temperature is fluctuating. So far I’m not experiencing akathisia or twitches, like I did when starting Abilify last time. This is also a pretty low dose, so we’ll see.

 

Okay, thank you all for listening. I hope you all are well!  (I’m sorry this isn’t a better written post.)

 

 

Interview with Nectar Madness

Hey everyone, a little while ago I did an interview for ‘My Bipolar Roller Coaster’ about my bipolar disorder diagnosis, and my experiences with the illness. If you want to know more about yours truly, check it out. Also, check out this awesome mental health blog.

Swinging Crashing

So yeah. I guess I crashed. I’m not doing so well right now. My moods are swinging, bringing me to a miserable depression these last two days. I really don’t even want to write this, but I’m forcing myself to.

Apparently this is part of my pattern. Every Spring/early Summer I am riding high. Hypomanic on meds and full on manic off meds. This year I traveled a lot. First was Chicago, then Toronto, then up north to a vacation town here in Michigan. I also attended a number of concerts. I was exploding with energy and feeling very social. It was summertime, after all.

Then after all the fun in the sun, the clinks of the bottles, the screaming in the crowd, I enter into a lifeless, self-loathing little pile of misery. It sucks and I hate it.

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My mind scrambles tonight to come up with excuses to get out of going to the beach with my family and friends tomorrow. I’m in a pathetic stage at the moment where I ridicule myself and compare myself to others. I literally have a reason to feel insecure with each and every person going to this outing tomorrow. I am feeling self-conscious and humiliated. I expressed this (well, a mild version of this) to my wife and I could tell by her reaction, while expressing compassion, she was disappointed in me. So I shut up about it. I really want to be excited to spend the day with my wife and my son. I will probably just muscle through it. There is no drinking at this gathering, so I can’t even numb my issues away.

I need to exercise more. I need to lose weight and boost my serotonin levels. It’s hard to get motivated when nothing sounds good. I know it sounds like I’m just whining. But mood swings and depression are real. Out of nowhere it can just jump up and bite you in the ass. I hope this passes quickly. I also hope this has nothing to do with coming of of Abilify. Because it is a noticeable pattern, I don’t think it does.

All in all, I have had some fleeting dark thoughts of ending it all, but I distracted myself and found more useful things to focus on. I guess it’ll be a day by day process. Thanks for reading.

 

Take a Chance with the Side Effect Dance

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I know I’ve written about side effects in the past, and this is one topic we all seem to be on the same page about. Side effects suck! My latest endeavor has been trying to lose weight. Over the last year, I have put on a bit of weight, and am having a more difficult time than usual in getting rid of it. I examined my timeline of events- I went on my current cocktail of Lithium, Abilify, and Seroquel about a year and a half ago. And then last fall/winter my wife was pregnant and I know I can attribute some of my tummy to joining her in prego eating. Okay, between those two variables, I put on about 30 pounds. I realize to some, this doesn’t seem extreme. However, I am only 5’1″ and I have a petite frame. None of my clothes fit. I feel uncomfortable. The CDC rates my BMI as overweight. Yeah it’s time to take action.

I gave up sweets and other junk food. I stopped drinking soda. I don’t eat red meat, and I adopted a strict regimen of vegetables and fruits and lean protein. Nothing fried enters my mouth. I exercise. After a few months of this lifestyle change, I dropped barely 5 pounds. I couldn’t believe that my weight was hardly moving despite my efforts. I was really discouraged and trying not to become depressed.

This is when I decided to go further, and research my medications. I learned that two of the three meds I’m on have a tendency to contribute to weight issues. These weight issues include gaining of weight, and/or difficulty in losing excess pounds. Immediately I flashed back to about 12 years ago when I was an inpatient in the psych hospital, and I had gained a good 30 pounds within a month’s time. But that time Depakote was the culprit. I never want to go back to that feeling again. So I knew at that moment I had to consult with my psychiatrist. I hate the way I look. I’m tired of feeling bloated. If I can’t look good, then I don’t feel good.

I decided to ask him about alternatives to Seroquel. This was scary because the Seroquel really does seem to be a miracle drug for me. I figured the Seroquel had to be the problem child since I am on a medium to high dose. I am on a very low dose of Abilify so I didn’t think it was contributing as much. When I went to my last appointment, I expressed my concerns and explained the efforts I have been trying. He asked me to honestly tell him which of the two helps me more. Of course his question presented a battle internally for me- my own self-fueled convictions say “Seroquel makes you fattest”- but I knew the truth, and that was Seroquel helps me the most. Nights when I don’t take it, I cannot sleep and the next few days I’m completely thrown off. If I skip Abilify, I barely notice. I was honest with him. Clearly this resulted in his decision to wean me off of Abilify, and continue my Seroquel.  He even informed me that Abilify is actually more prominent in weight issues than Seroquel, even at a low dose. He also mentioned that Zyprexa (which I had been on in the past) is not a good alternative to Seroquel when weight is a concern because it’s even worse thatn the other two.  He said to continue what I have been doing in regards to eating and exercise, and in a couple of months I should notice a difference in my weight.

So, it has been a week. I’m watching what I eat and weighing myself. I came off the Abilify pretty smoothly. At this point we shall see. I’ll keep posted. If anyone has any stories of weight gain as a side effect, please share!

 

Thoughts On New Bipolar Drama, ‘Black Box’

Tonight I finally had a date with my DVR and the pilot episode of the new ABC series, ‘Black Box’.

The show is about Dr. Catherine Black, a neuroscientist who works at The Center for Neurological Research and Treatment. This world famous doctor has bipolar disorder. She hides it from some, while others can’t escape from it.

Catherine, played by Kelly Reilly, has a non-compliance issue with taking her meds, which the show made prevalent when she decided to come off of them. Her mania was triggered, and she experienced symptoms such as delusions of grandeur, hypersexuality, hallucinations, increased energy, rapid speech, and grandiosity. She ended up hurting her boyfriend/(sort of fiance), and she almost messed things up at work. The show features Vanessa Redgrave as her psychiatrist, and shows them meeting often to discuss Catherine’s mental state and returning her to stability.

My Thoughts
I really liked it! I had been obsessing about watching it for weeks before it premiered. So far, I can absolutely relate to Catherine, in terms of bipolar, and I can even say I idolized her a little bit. Yes, her actions made me think about my own non-compliance issues and I suddenly felt a desire to cut the drugs and free myself into a colorful mania of my own. I may or may not have made a comment about this, and my wife, who was watching it with me, gave me one of her famous “I don’t think so” looks. We have a deal that if I can’t stay on meds, she (and the baby) can’t stay with me. Okay, well that’s more of an ultimatum than a deal, but for the most part it works.

Anyway, I think that bipolar disorder was represented very well (except maybe the rapidness of the episode onset), and Dr. Catherine Black’s character was portrayed beautifully. I, personally, feel the symptoms are accurate and I have had most all of them myself. I think ‘Black Box’ is groundbreaking in the sense that bipolar disorder has never been seen before in this light. We have all dealt with such an incredible stigma due to our illness and this show expresses the rawness and truth of what manic and depressive episodes can be like. It is a very vulnerable and necessary place to be.