Guest Post: Everything You Need to Know About Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder

My name is “Tyler”, and I have dealt with bipolar disorder pretty much my entire existence.  I was diagnosed with it at age 25, and it has been an eye-opener for me as a young man, to say the least.  I am now 36 years of age, and unfortunately, only very few of my peers have a good enough understanding of what the condition is, and how I go through every waking day with all of it on my shoulders.

 

According to statistics, around 5.7 million Americans are stricken with bipolar disorder, more commonly known as manic depression.  Further details of these numbers show that the average age when this malady manifests is at 25 years old, much like how it did with me, but it can affect people in early childhood as well.

 

But what exactly is a bipolar disorder?  We have all probably heard of such a term one way or another, bearing very little information about the said condition.  The basic information that is readily provided by people and the internet is that it is a mental disorder that causes mood swings in people who suffer from it.

 

It is clear that bipolar disorder is prevalent in major parts of the world, and this article should hopefully shed some light on this ailment that has been a problem for many in society for a long time now.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

 

The common notion about this condition is correct, in that bipolar disorder is a mental health issue that causes the individual stricken with it to experience severe mood swings.  They could be feeling on top of the world one minute, then suddenly down in the dumps after another.

 

There are a few types of bipolar disorder, and they range in the symptoms that are usually displayed.  One would be Bipolar I disorder, wherein the individual would have gone through at least one manic episode.  It is succeeded by either hypomania or severe depressive episodes.

 

The second type is Bipolar II disorder, only this time, the manic-depressive episode is almost always accompanied by at least one instance of hypomania.  In this case, however, no manic episodes are usually displayed.

 

The third type of this condition would be Cyclothymic Disorder.  When people suffer from this condition, they likely would have experienced at least two years (or one year in a child or teenage) of hypomania and depressive symptoms.

 

Other cases of bipolar disorder can be caused by external factors such as narcotics or other substances, or diseases such as a stroke or multiple sclerosis.

 

Delving Deeper into the  My Symptoms

 

So what about me?  The symptoms that I have dealt with were severe enough to disrupt my daily life but were still manageable to not take any drastic measures.  Primarily, I have dealt with both mania and hypomania, two of the most distinct symptoms that go along with having bipolar disorder.

 

Now, these two symptoms may be classified differently, but they are pretty much the same.  I would usually go through episodes, noticed especially when I was at work or during other social functions, where I was uncharacteristically upbeat and wired like I had just downed three bottles of Red Bull.

 

Many of my friends would notice how unusually chatty I was.  I’m not a doctor, but I would attribute it to my brain that is seemingly racing at all times.  This has hurt me many times, leading to many ill-advised decisions that bore major repercussions.

 

But that would usually happen on a “good day”, so to speak, because the flipside of it is the exact opposite.  I spiral into a pit of severe depression that would last for many days, wherein that feeling of emptiness and hopelessness is just all too consuming.

 

Physically, I would feel fatigued and irrationally exhausted, as if all my energy was zapped out from my body.  I would also feel the loss of interest in any pleasurable activity, whether it be good food, sex, even when I’d play the harmonica, my favorite pastime since I was about 13.

 

Dealing with the Condition

It’s been a decade since I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and through the picture I’ve painted, you will probably see that it has not been a picnic.  However, I did find various remedies to make life a bit more bearable for me.

 

I would consider myself fortunate enough to still be alive despite this condition, unlike some people I have met through the years who ended up taking their own lives.  As statistics have also shown, 30% to 70% of those who suffer from some form of depression, including bipolar disease, have ended in suicide.

 

But I have chosen to fight the good fight and not let this condition get the best of me.  In addition to medications, I made some minor tweaks in my lifestyle, and I believe anyone like me can also make this work for their benefit.

 

For one thing, lack of sleep is probably one of the biggest triggers of manic episodes.  Doctors say it is pretty commonplace for those like us to stay up late binging on Netflix shows, but this can only worsen the condition.

 

Getting some sleep can be difficult at times, but what has worked for me is listening to relaxing music before bed.  I would suggest trading those Pantera CDs and MP3s for more light-hearted tunes like piano jazz or classical music.

 

It could also help to stick to a set routine to help prevent the sudden mood swings. I always keep a workout schedule at 9 am to get my day going.  It helps give me a good boost in mood and overall disposition.

 

Speaking of exercise, this has been a good way for me to cope with this condition. I make sure that I get to break a sweat at least four times a week, through various workouts such as martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, and hiking.

 

On the flipside, it would not be advisable to take any form of altering substance, even if it is something as relatively negligible as coffee.  Of course, avoid taking any other recreational substance such as alcohol or drug not prescribed by your doctor, as it could worsen those manic episodes.  Abusing drugs can also lead to addiction with dual diagnosis.  There are individuals who are in inpatient rehab with bipolar disorders and it is a difficult battle.

 

Sure, living a life with such a gripping condition can be taxing, even fatal to some people.  But ultimately, it is all about choice.  It would be all up to you to either give in and be eaten alive or to fight it head-on.

 

If you choose to do the latter, you can be guaranteed that there many ways to deal with this, to boost the chances of you living a normal and happy life.

 

AUTHOR: Charles Watson is currently the head content writer for Sunshine Behavioral Health.  After spending time with “Tyler,” it was decided to put his hardships out for everyone to see.  This was done to show that while a person is diagnosed as Bipolar, life still goes on.  Hopefully Tyler’s story will resonate with others. Charles can be reached on Twitter at @charleswatson00

 

SOURCES:

“Bipolar Disorder Statistics.” Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), DBSA, secure2.convio.net/dabsa/site/SPageServer/?pagename=education_statistics_bipolar_disorder.

 

“Hotline Information.” Types of Bipolar Disorder – Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, DBSA, secure2.convio.net/dabsa/site/SPageServer/?pagename=education_statistics_bipolar_disor

 

“Bipolar Disorder and Suicide.” WebMD, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-disorder-suicide.

Picture Credit: National Institute of Mental Health

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Guest Post: Author of Rambler- A Family Pushes through the Fog of Mental Illness Interviewed

rambler

How do you think your memoir, “Rambler,” will be helpful in ‘writing away the stigma’?

 

The stigma associated with mental illness is tricky to overcome because the symptoms involve a person’s behavior and thinking, making it difficult for people to think of the fluctuations they see in a person as an illness. Neuroscientists are making progress in diagnosing and understanding these disorders, but research is slow to affect how we think about them.

 

Eliminating stigma is most often achieved on a personal level, and that’s why my husband, Steve, and I feel it’s important to share our family’s story. In “Rambler,” I write openly and honestly about my experience of living with my husband’s bipolar disorder, at a time when we were raising our children. “Rambler” includes his writings, and that gives readers a more thorough picture of the experience. Hopefully this intimate, forthright telling will help others better understand the nature of mental illness, thus decreasing the stigma.

 

What writing secret do you have that helps you present a realistic telling for families navigating a mental illness diagnosis?

 

There is no “writing secret” that allows me to create a realistic telling of how to navigate a mental illness diagnosis. There are two factors, however, that contribute to my being able to write effectively about mental illness.

 

First, I experienced first-hand the challenges of living with my husband’s illness, who was diagnosed when he was in his mid-40s. Because I’m a writer, I naturally turned to journaling throughout the acute stage of his illness. For example, when I asked my six-year-old daughter how she knew her daddy was sick after he got home from a month-long stay in a hospital psych ward, she told me that she knew he was because he no longer remembered what day it was, a comment I recorded in my journal. These kinds of details are included in “Rambler,” making it more realistic.

 

Another factor in helping me write a personal narrative is that I wrote a newspaper column for almost two decades. Through years of first-person writing I developed a style in which I was able to share a personal story that has universal appeal. Specifically, “Rambler” is about our family’s struggle with mental illness, but it really speaks to anyone facing a life-altering illness.

 

What was the most difficult aspect of writing such a personal story? The easiest?

 

It was extremely difficult to present a fair and honest telling of such an emotionally charged period of our lives. It took many years for me to gain the perspective necessary to write “Rambler.” After the tumultuous decade in which Steve’s mental health problems surfaced and resettled into a manageable routine, I was exhausted and angry. I needed time to process what happened and understand the myriad aspects of the experience. That includes being able to appreciate and write about Steve’s determination to recapture a semblance of the life he’d lost to an illness; acknowledging the support of friends and family, even from those who steadfastly denied he had an illness; understanding the role Steve’s and my upbringing played in dealing with his illness; and learning to trust my intuition when responding to Steve’s manic, depressive, and psychotic episodes. I wanted “Rambler” to reflect what really happens inside a home when someone has a mental illness. That, by far, was the most challenging aspect of telling this story.

 

There really wasn’t anything easy about writing “Rambler,” except for the epilogue. It’s about a bicycle trip Steve and I took from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., more than a dozen years after his mood stabilized. It was in celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary. Every chapter in “Rambler” took months, some even years, before I was satisfied with them. I wrote the Epilogue in less than a week… and had fun writing it.

 

What inspires you as a person? As a writer?

 

Many things move me, both as a person and a writer. A walk in the woods. An elderly face creased with wisdom. A child’s chubby hand. Stories of people who push through and persevere. But I believe that creativity comes more from within, especially as it pertains to writing. In order to write “Rambler,” I had to learn how to look inward, to be quiet before sitting down to write. I often meditated as a way of achieving a focus that allowed me to hear the story in me.

 

What is the takeaway you hope readers will understand or learn after reading Rambler?

 

There are several takeaways from reading “Rambler,” foremost among them is that severe mental illness is treatable. Good medical care, the love and support of family and friends, and the grit and determination of the people involved—the person with the illness as well as the caregivers—are vital in recapturing a life derailed by mental illness.

 

Another important point in Rambler, one essential for anyone caring for a loved one with a mental illness, is to remain open to the experience. In the early stages of Steve’s illness, when he was depressed, I saw it as a weakness of character. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

As an educator, I naturally sought opportunities to learn more about what was happening in our family. I attended workshops sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and went with Steve to many of his psychiatrist appointments, all while trying to wrap my mind around the baffling illness. It was a steep learning curve, one that would take years for me to work through and a lifetime to really understand. But I remained open to new ways of thinking about what was happening, which was important in facing our family challenges.

Rambler: A Family Pushes Through the Fog of Mental Illness

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rambler3 rambler4

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I have a Mental Illness, but I am not a Mistake

mr rogersI watched “Won’t you be my Neighbor” about Mr. Rogers last night.  One message he put across to kids via a puppet is that they are not a mistake.  Although, he did not bring up mental illness, I see how that could be relevant.

I AM NOT A MISTAKE! Please remember that if you are struggling with depression or another mental illness. God made you the way he did for a reason. You will be happier when you figure out why and deal with the positives of your life.  You can also use your illness to help others by reaching out to those you know who are struggling, telling them that you can relate, being honest about your own illness, and could prevent a suicide if you think of it.

Suicide hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

International hotline: http://ibpf.org/resource/list-international-suicide-hotlines

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The Frustrations of a Mental Health Advocate

saveNo one would say that they don’t care about the mentally ill, I don’t think.  However, it has been proven over and over again that many don’t care at all.  I am not going to go through the proof because those of us who are advocates know the hardships those with mental illness goes through and the lack of education and strong stigma still attached to it.

The Congress, the President, the news outlets, our friends, family members, and even our fellow church members  would never tell it to our faces that they don’t care about us, but they don’t. It is not their fault as education is key.

Write to your Congressman today and use my  previous blog to get our points across. Let’s create #suicideprevention as trending today.

CHALLENGE TODAY: Please help me by Retweeting. liking, sharing my message on @Bipolar_Bandit on Twitter or FB Bipolar Bandit Message: Start talking about suicide and mental illness ALL THE TIME! https://wp.me/p2Ge94-2q4 #suicide #suicideprevention #mentalillness #mentalhealthadvocacy #fotus#potus

 

 

 

 

 

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Start talking about suicide and mental illness ALL THE TIME!

vectorThe news recently revolved around suicides of famous people and when a celebrity comes out or there is a mass shooting, some light is shed on mental illness.

However, the important talk about a national epidemic fades quickly and this is a tragedy.

It is upon each individual to know the signs of mental illness and suicide, what to do if they see them, and to get over the stigma of mental illness.

Please, if you know someone right now who you think might be suicidal or suffering from depression or another mental illness, do not hesitate to ask them if everything is okay. YOU COULD SAVE A LIFE!

If you don’t know where to go, please google “Bipolar Bandit” where you will find my blog, FB page, Twitter page and Pinterest. I also run FB group called Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses that has over 25,000 people worldwide that discuss topics facing the world today regarding mental health. I also have a FB page called Mental Health Advocates United that posts encouraging memes and information about the various illnesses.

The first step in fixing the epidemic is for everyone to get educated. Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

suicide666

 

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Mania or Depression: Will I stay in the light this time?

lightMy life has been a roller coaster since I was 13.   There have been times when medications have worked and I have been stable, but these don’t last very long.  Now, the problem is I think I might be medication resistant.

I mainly suffer from depression and can’t do much about it because anti-depressants can trigger mania.  I seem to be cycling more into mania now in the past few years more than ever. Some people like mania, but I don’t.  Yes- the hypo-mania is good because I have the energy to do things that I have not been able to motivate myself into doing when I am depressed.   However, then the mania comes and has ended relationships, cost me a lot of money, and I have done things I regret. One thing I do is over commit myself and then disappoint people when I get depressed and can’t even get out of bed.

Currently, I am hypo-manic and fear I will be manic. I have a new doctor and a new medication regimen so I am hoping that I won’t get manic.  However, my fear, is that I will plummet into depression.  Yet again, however, I am on a “medication” that helps with depression and I am praying that this will help.  This med is not covered by insurance and is called Deplin which you need a prescription for and is basically folic acid.

So, will I stay in the light this time?  I am excited as I have actually applied for a few jobs. (I have been on disability for 11 years.  I have worked for my dad and mainly focus on my mental health advocacy pages.)  I also have finally found a church that I plan to join.  I also have a trip planned to go see relatives.

Now, if I can just stay “happy”.  I have started associating hypomania with happiness.  Unfortunately, it is almost  sad that since I don’t want to be manic, I don’t want to be happy.  I would much rather be depressed than manic.

My last depression I was in that I came out of about a week ago, was the worst in a long time.  I was suicidal and so hopeless.  I just sat and watched television and did not even get online to work on mental health advocacy stuff or check in on FB or Twitter. I literally watched tv and ate.   Now, of course, I have gained 15 pounds and that causes depression in itself.

So, I am going to refus to be bleak and end this blog with “I am going to stay in the light” this time.  I have been going for walks, pretty sure I will be getting a job, am eating better, and have promised myself I will get on the computer for at least an hour even if I  do get depressed.

It is so hard to get out of depression when you don’t do anything about it. I have written blogs about what to do if you are depressed, but yet I don’t follow my own advice.  I get the feeling where I don’t deserve to be happy and dig myself deeper into the depths of depression.

So, if you know me on FB, keep me accountable.  I refuse to get depressed again. I have plans for my life and dreams that you can’t imagine. I just need to stay stable.

Michelle Lande Clark (My Facebook name)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post by Nicole Allen: Living with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

bp guest post 2Living with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

As a kid, he was creative, energetic, and outgoing. As a teen, he got introduced to alcohol and cocaine. As an adult, he moved to Los Angeles to begin work as a writer. Out West, he struggled with his work, binged on cocaine, became addicted to painkillers, and ended up getting convicted for driving under the influence twice.

Not until his early thirties did Jeffrey get diagnosed with bipolar disorder. By that time, he had detoxed but was still using pain medications regularly. At the time of his interview in 2012 with “Health,” at the age of 32, Jeffrey was struggling with the use if Oxycontin for back pain and considering programs to help him stay clean. He was not taking medications for bipolar disorder because, as he put it, “bipolar medications don’t work for me.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2016, over eight million adults were dealing with a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. Individuals, like Jeffrey, who are dealing with both of these disorders are said to have a “dual diagnosis.” Research has shown that between 30% and 50% of individuals having bipolar disorder will develop an addiction in their lifetime.

What is bipolar disorder? Why are so many individuals with bipolar disorder at risk for developing an addiction? And what can you do if you or someone you know has a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and addiction? Let us address these questions in turn below.

Bipolar Disorder: A Definition

Bipolar disorder is a serious, chronic condition. Individuals having bipolar disorder switch back and forth between two very different moods or two different poles, as it were.

One of these poles is manic. When an individual is manic, they may have a great deal of energy, feel invincible, feel extremely irritable, and/or engage in impulsive or reckless activities such as shopping sprees or promiscuous sex. As Jeffrey described his manic episodes, “I felt like a god. But then I would black out and not know where I was when I woke up, or whether I’d spent the night with a stranger.”

The opposite pole is depressed. When an individual is depressed, they may have any number of symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, feelings of guilt, inability to concentrate, and thoughts of suicide. As Jeffrey described his depressive episodes, “I was depressed about my job [. . .] I started to ignore my friends and relatives.”

The cause of bipolar disorder remains unknown. However, multiple studies suggest that the disease has a strong genetic component. Researchers are working to figure out what genes interact to predispose individuals to developing bipolar disorder.

Diagnosis of bipolar disorder is often made by a psychiatrist. The diagnosis is based–among other things–on a person’s history of symptoms, severity of symptoms, and timing of symptoms. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can be pursued. Some methods may include medications, therapy, and/or dietary and lifestyle changes.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–published in 2006–found that addiction occurred more frequently for individuals having bipolar disorder than with “any other mood or anxiety disorder.” Why is this so?

Cause and Effect: Use of an addictive substance may trigger symptoms of bipolar disorder. Conversely, having bipolar disorder may itself be a risk factor for developing a drug addiction.

Self-medication: Individuals with bipolar disorder may use drugs to ease the pain felt during manic or depressive episodes. As Quello and others have observed, “The substances may initially minimize or moderate the mood symptoms, but withdrawal and chronic abuse typically exacerbate mood degradation, leading to increasing abuse and ultimately dependence.”

Overlap: Some researchers argue that the areas of the brain in charge of “impulsivity, motivation, and the feeling of reward” get hijacked in both bipolar disorder and addiction. Hijacking of these areas of the brain thus may lead to both disorders happening at the same time.

Genetics: Some genes may predispose individuals to both mental illness and addiction. As Quello and others have pointed out, “families with substance abusers are more likely than those without to also have members with mood disorders, and vice versa.”

Finding Solutions

The two major ways for treating bipolar disorder and addiction are with medications and/or therapy:

Medications: More research remains to be done to figure out what medications work best at treating both bipolar disorder and addiction. Medications that have been used for years to treat bipolar disorder will not necessarily address concomitant drug addiction. In one study, the combination of valproate and lithium–both medications used to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder–helped decrease alcohol consumption in patients dealing with bipolar disorder and alcoholism. In another study, quetiapine–a medicine often used to treat bipolar disorder–lessened “alcohol consumption and craving” in those with dual diagnoses of bipolar disorder and alcoholism. It should be noted, however, that each individual responds differently to certain medications. For this reason, individuals and their healthcare providers must work together to figure out which medication or group of medications is most effective at treating the individual’s bipolar symptoms and addiction.

Therapy: You may pursue cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals manage their symptoms and cope with stressors that can exacerbate their symptoms. Or you may consider attending AA or NA classes. Or you may decide on integrated therapy, which provides education, close follow-up with treatment providers, aggressive pharmacotherapy, and much more to individuals in a way that works best for them.

The wife of a man battling bipolar disorder and addiction made the following comments on a SAMHSA blog: “People can get better, but it’s not easy and some don’t because the science isn’t good enough yet. The struggle deserves to be honored.” The solutions that healthcare providers offer individuals do not always work, at first. As Jeffrey explained above, the medicines he tried for bipolar disorder just did not seem to work for him. Nonetheless, whatever dual diagnosis treatment you choose, do not lose hope. These are tough diseases to deal with and–though there might not be any easy answers–if you work with your healthcare providers as a team, you might find the right answers for you.

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Bipolar Disorder: Feeling Hopeless? Don’t give up!

Having bipolar disorder can feel like you are in a deep hole and can’t get out when you are depressed and suicide enters your mind.   When you are manic, it can feel like you are on the top of the world and don’t want to leave it.  However, sometimes, when you are manic and have been riding the roller coaster over and over, it is tempting to jump off the ledge too.

People think that mania is a great thing. What they don’t realize is that when you are manic you do things that you regret and can hurt people you love. You learn to not like the mania because of these reasons and because you know you will come crashing down and the higher you go, the lower you get afterwards.

Medicine is the answer for many and there are other treatments too.  For me, I am starting to recognize that medications are not working any more and it is so frustrating. I seem to cycle into mania about every three months. I have tried pretty much every medication out there and am under care of a psychiatrist I like, but just can’t seem to get on a level that is stable.

It can feel hopeless and at this point I am writing this, I am entering another manic phase and yet am in tears because I just can’t handle this anymore.

Usually, when I write my blog, I try to be educational and upbeat and try to “teach” something and write with purpose so that others can learn from what I have to say.

While starting this, I was wondering how I would put a positive spin on it.  I guess I am writing to let people know that reality of this disease.  I hope that my openness helps someone.  I started this with the title of “Don’t give up” because I wanted to make sure I ended up on a positive note.

So….Please don’t give up.  The poem below is one my dad gave me when I was 13 during my first depression after my first and only attempt at suicide.  I hope it helps someone.  Right now, suicide is in the news and is happening at an alarming rate.  Unfortunately, it was talked about a lot after the deaths of two famous people by suicide and now it has faded into the shadows again. I hope that if you were thinking of killing yourself today, that you will listen to this and get help.  Suicide Hotline       International Suicide Numbers 

don't quit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Assessment for Bipolar Disorder

delasseBipolar Disorder Assessment should be done by a professional. Here are some things they should look for and discuss at an assessment:

If you are the person experiencing mood changes, a friend or family member may mention it to you or you might come to the conclusion on your own.  Your inquiry oftentimes starts with looking at information on the internet.

This is where the assessing begins.  People then usually go to their primary care doctor.  If they think they meet the criteria for bipolar disorder, they will refer them to a psychiatrist or some place/person that can better diagnose them.

The assessment usually starts with surveys or questionnaires. However, it should be more thorough and in depth.  It should cover the person’s life including their current circumstances, their triggers, the way they view the problem, coping strategies, and where they will get support.  An evaluation can result in other diagnoses before the correct one is found and can take 5 years to figure out.

During the evaluation period, the person doing the diagnosis should go over several things including:

  • Do you have any history with mental illness in your family?
  • What makes you think you have bipolar disorder?
  • What is your physical health like?
  •  What are your sources of stress and how do you deal with it?
  • What are your goals?
  •  What are your currently struggling with?
  •  What are your triggers?
  • What are the warning signs?
  • What were all the previous episodes like and what was it like in between the mood changes?
  •  What are you individual strengths?
  •  How do you cope?
  • What are your support networks?

It can be difficult to make a proper diagnosis for several reasons. That is because the experiences are usually misidentified as unipolar or depression first.  The hypomnic mood states are often missed.  That is why when be assessed, it is important that it is very thorough.

It can be difficult to figure out what normal behavior is and therefore hard to determine what hypomania would look like for that person.

Also, other things can present like bipolar disorder, but aren’t.  For example it could be a head injury, trauma, a tumor, diabetes, thyroid problems, among others.  Many times, alcohol or drug abuse masks the bipolar disorder as people will self medicate.  Therefore, it is difficult to determine the underlying cause.

If the assessment is done correctly and the person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder then that is just the beginning of a long road the person and their psychiatrist will endure to figure out ways to help them.

Picture source

 

 

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Darkness Therapy is a Way to Treat Mania

deldarkI was just reading about some alternative ways to treat bipolar disorder, specifically mania and came across an article that talked about darkness therapy.  I decided to do some research and write a blog about it.

In 1996 there was a  study that was started that eventually proved that  it is helpful to ward off mania if a patient is in darkness from 8pm until 6am.  When they can’t be in complete darkness, amber lenses or control clear lenses were used.  It was proved that darkness is a mood stabilizer. (This study was completed in 2016)

In February of 2005 there was a study done that proved darkness “can be a useful add-on for the treatment of acute mania”.

In researching darkness therapy, a term that you are probably already familiar with kept coming up-biological clock. “The biological clock controls the timing of our body’s daily cycles including our sleep cycles and research has consistently shown is an imbalance in the biological clock in bipolar brains. This is why sleep cycle disturbances are so common in bipolar syndrome.”

The SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus ) is a part of the that hypothalamus gets signals about how much light there is. It is the main location of the biological clock.   In 2001, a retinal photoreceptor was discovered that is sensitive to blue light.  These receptors connect to the SCN of the hypothalamus, where the biological clock is.

Amber lenses can block blue wavelengths (the most potent portion) creating a form of physiologic darkness. “Because the timing and quantity of light and darkness both affect sleep, evening use of amber lenses to block blue light might affect sleep quality. Mood is also affected by light and sleep; therefore, mood might be affected by blue light blockade.”

Avoiding blue light is simple and has no side effects and  is a free anti-manic treatment. It is something we can incorporate into our daily lives in order to live with bipolar disorder and control mania.

I tried to make this topic as easy as I could. For more in depth information, please read from the following sources.  They include the studies that I mentioned.

Source1

Source2

Source3

Source4 and Source5

Source6

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