Friday, November 23, 2007

Do You Have Bipolar Disorder? Here's what you need to do.

If you are reading this blog, I assume that you are:
  • interested in bipolar / manic depressive disorder
  • may have manic depressive disorder
  • know someone who has manic depressive disorder
So I thought that the best post to start with would be the basics...what you absolutely must do if you or someone you know is bipolar.

Bipolar vs. Manic Depression
Before I give you the short list, just some clarification on terminology. You will see me using the terms 'bipolar' and 'manic depression' interchangeably. As I explained in my first entry, I prefer the term 'manic depression' because I think it better describes what it feels like to have this disorder. However, 'bipolar disorder' is the terminology used by professional mental health care providers. So both terms essentially refer to the same disorder. Use the one that you prefer.

What You Need to Do Right Now
If you (or someone you care about) has,or may have, bipolar disorder, her is the short list of 'musts':

1. See a mental health care professional.
What Is a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a MD or DO who specializes in mental health. He/she can professionally assess your condition and prescribe medication.

What Is a Psychologist?
A psychologist is a PhD in mental health. He/she can provide professional counseling to help you cope with your disorder.

Who Do You See First?
You should see one of each, but, I feel that it is best to start with a psychiatrist so that he/she can help you find the right combination of medications to keep your disorder in check. A psychiatrist can also recommend a good psychologist for you to see next.

2. Get on, and stay on, medication for bipolar disorder.
When you are just beginning to recognize that you have manic depression, it is sometimes difficult to accept, and some people are resistant to the idea of taking medication.

But if you do have the disorder, you absolutely need to be on medication that will effectively regulate your symptoms. No exceptions.

Why it May Be Difficult to Take Your Meds When You Feel Good
Manic depressive disorder is an insidious, deceptive disorder that can, when you are 'up', make you fell as if you do not need (or want) medication. Moderate 'highs' (hypomania) sometimes feels good. You get a lot don't, have ideas flowing and don't feel that you need as much sleep. However the fun of hypomania can quickly escalate into the nightmare of a true manic episode with racing thoughts, irritability, difficulty concentrating and insomnia (sound familiar?). Don't be fooled by your disorder. Get on and stay on meds.

Why it May Be Difficult to Take Your Meds When You Feel Bad
When you are feeling depressed, you may by apathetic about taking meds. You feel so bad that everything is a colossal effort. You may feel like you don't deserve to feel better. Regardless of why, there are many reasons that someone who is profoundly depressed can find to justify not taking the meds that they need to feel better. If you regularly stay on your meds, they can help prevent you from getting to this point. If you are already at this point, take your meds anyway. Make the effort to call your psychiatrist and tell him/her that you are very depressed and having difficulty taking your medication. However you manage it, take your medication as prescribed.

An Ounce of Prevention...
It is the consistency of taking you medication that will help even out your swings in mood and will, over the long term, keep you on a more even keel.

The time stamp on the post that I put up yesterday says that it was posted at 9:30 pm or so. Actually, I was working on and revising my post until the wee hours of this morning. What does that mean??


Yesterday my Manic Depressive Self-Rating was a 7. I am feeling hypomanic; energetic, focused, don't want to sleep. I am taking my meds, but medication doesn't always resolve all bipolar symptoms. The meds help, and make the disorder more manageable.

Tonight, my goal is to get to bead early, and I will lay off the caffeine. Sleep, especially lack of it, can help launch a hypomainic state into a manic one, and I definitely don't want to go there. I'm probably a 7.5 on the scale today. Time to do what I can to put on the breaks!


Manic 10 9 8 7.5 6 5 4 3 2 1 depresseD

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a mental health professional .

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