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Re: possibly bipolar?? Spriggy

Posted by cache-monkey on January 29, 2005, at 19:41:21

In reply to possibly bipolar??, posted by Spriggy on January 26, 2005, at 17:09:31

Hello,

It's kind of tough to swallow, a bipolar diagnosis. I've actually been coming to terms with the fact that I'm probably "soft" BP (more on that later).

One thing about BP is that it very strongly runs in families. If BP is suspected, a family history of it is often a reason to move it from "possible" to "probable."

Another thing is that BP can (usually?) shows up later in life, e.g. late 20s, early 30s and after. In fact, it can be actived by antidepressants. Particularly SSRIs, I believe. I think the idea is that it's been there, but been latent and then this big rushing change in brain chemistry brings it out. In terms of the spectrum idea, I think that anti-depressant induced BP is on the softer side, but definitely a form of BP.

Finally, one symptom of BP can be extreme anxiety. This is due to a "mixed" state wherein you're both actived and depressed. Hence you're panic attacks could also be related to some sort of bipolar activity.

So, I can see how there is reason to believe that you're bipolar of some form.

This is not necessarily devastating news.

First, there's a spectrum to it. It isn't always as severe for one person as it is with another. This means that you could have a "softer" version than what your father and grandmother had. I.e., you're not necessarily going to be going out on massive spending sprees, being unfaithful, etc., even if your BP isn't treated.

The second thing to keep in mind is that BP is _not_ a character flaw. It's simply the result of mis-firing brain chemicals, over which you really have no control. This might make you feel a touch helpless, but...

Third, it's eminently treatable. There are quite a few medications out there that have been proven effective over the long term to keep BP in check. This means that you can have BP, be treated for it, and continue to lead a fulfilling, faithful, sensible and productive life. There's a really good friend of my family who experienced full blown BP in her 30s, went on Lithium and (she's now 80) has been this bastion of strength, sensibility, humor, and compassion for our family (and lots of other people, too). By most standards, she's led an admirable life.

Anyway, I hope this helps a little bit. I know it's scary. It's taken me a while to be comfortable with the idea myself.

The important thing, though, is -- should your psychiatrist settle on a BP diagnosis -- to be open to treating it. Left untreated, there's a chance that it could worsen. And by treating it, you might even find that your panic anxiety will go away.

That at least is what I recall reading from Dr. James Phelps, who is something of an expert on bipolar, particularly the non-classical (soft, mixed-state) varieties. He has this great educational site on bipolar:
http://www.psycheducation.org/
I would recommend going there and poking around a bit. [The website seems to be down now, but hopefully it will come back up soon...]

Take care,
cache-monkey

> I'm at a loss right now.
>
> I posted earlier that after 1 month on Lexapro for panic attacks- that although I am panic attack free, I have been having the weirdest mood swings.
>
> I go from euphoric to totally incapacitated with depression and even having suicidal thoughts. This is VERY unlike me.
>
> I've also been feeling a very strange "head fog" as if I am not real for about a month.
>
> Well, I talked to my doctor today and she said, " It sounds as if you could be bipolar. Do you have a family history?"
>
> My father has a severe case of bipolar, as did his mother (whom committed suicide). I just can't fahtom that I could possibly have this..
>
> I function normally (mood swings occasionally but I am a mother with two young kids' and one is autistic), I am responsible. My father and grandmother both went on massive spending sprees all the time and made very irresponsible decisions.
>
> I sleep pretty normally- neither of them slept. I've been a faithful spouse (neither of them could be).
>
> I just don't understand how she came up with bipolar????
>
> Am I just in denial or what?
>
> They are sending me to a psychologist tomorrow.


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