Let’s Talk Trauma
Bipolar Basics (And the Challenges in Diagnosis)
A complex mood disorder, bipolar poses several challenges to those who experience it. These pains include maintaining relationships, holding down sustainable employment, and often financial struggles. Less than 20% of those having bipolar disorder receive an accurate diagnosis within the first year of treatment. In fact, five or even ten years is not unheard of. So what is so difficult about diagnosing bipolar disorder?
What is Bipolar?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness causing fluctuating moods and energy levels. It often affects emotions, sleep, appetite, focus, and many other aspects of the person’s life. Diagnostic criteria include experiencing depressive and manic episodes.
What Might a Depressive Episode Look Like?
During a depressive episode, some or all of the following signs and symptoms are present:
● Feeling sad and/or a sense of emptiness
● Loss of interest in activities
● Reduced energy and/or decreased activity levels
● Difficulty concentrating and/or forgetfulness
● Changes in appetite
● Sleep disruptions
What Might Mania Look Like?
A manic or hypomanic episode may present some or all of the following signs and symptoms:
● Increased activity levels and/or taking on many tasks
● A sense of euphoria
● Racing thoughts
● Feeling jittery or similar agitation
● Engaging in risky behavior
● An abundance of energy and/or insomnia
Types of Bipolar
We can divide bipolar disorder into four categories: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, and Bipolar-Related Disorders. Each type of bipolar causes mood cycling. None of these has a singular cause although risk factors include trauma, brain function anomalies, and genetics. Symptoms typically begin during the teenage years.
This is what most people think of when considering bipolar. It is characterized by a depressive episode and a manic episode. Episodes may last a significant amount of time or rapid cycle. Mania symptoms last seven days or more, or are severe enough to require intervention.
Frequently misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder, bipolar II is characterized by a depressive episode and a hypomanic episode. As hypomania is less extreme than mania, they may pass it off as the person simply feeling better for a while.
The Wrong Diagnosis
People are more likely to seek treatment during a depressive episode and may not recall experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode, particularly in cases of bipolar II. This often leads to a diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
Substance abuse may also lead to a misdiagnosis as the use of alcohol or drugs can often affect episode cycles. This can lead the healthcare professional to believe that substance use is directly responsible for mood swings.
Medication and Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosing bipolar disorder can lead to the healthcare professional prescribing medication that can worsen symptoms. For example, a provider may prescribe SSRIs for depression, which can trigger a manic episode.
Medications prescribed for different conditions may trigger mood and energy cycles. For example, a prescription for corticosteroids may induce mania.
Receiving the Right Diagnosis
Healthcare providers are not intentionally misdiagnosing people who seek care. As we understand more about the wide sphere of mental illness, the need for deeper psychological evaluation and a detailed patient history becomes more apparent.
If you are seeking treatment for your mental health, it’s important to share a lot of information, even if you find it embarrassing or shameful. The better your provider can understand your experience, the better they can treat you, and the sooner you can feel better.
Mind Explosion of Tonighy
How to get a job and make money after a bipolar 1 diagnosis, where do I begin to find the courage
Hi everyone, I live in South Africa, finding a job after being forced to resign last is mission impossible, previous manager said I wasn't going to get my job back because I was sick, those words crippled every hope I had, she got into my head as if I have the space 😬, its been a year
I’m new here!
Hi, my name is Nurselife24. I'm here because I was diagnosed with Bipolar I Didorder 14 months ago. I am currently stable for 14 months. I would like to find support & be able to connect with others who share similar experiences. There are still times when I hate having been diagnosed & I don’t want to keep taking the meds. I just get tired of the appts & meds all the time, every day. Hooefully someone can relate & help me cope. Peace, love, & light to you all!
A brief introduction
My name is Melissa and I have cerebral palsy, bipolar 1 and dissociative identity disorder. As a new contributor I am excited to share a little bit about myself through my stories and hopefully help someone else along the way. Having mental illnesses have been so much more of a struggle than a physical disability because of the stigma associated with it. Since mental illnesses aren’t necessarily visible to the outside world there is often doubt and ridicule by both strangers and familiar people. For those of you experiencing conflict in your lives please know that you are worth it!! You are loved and you’re not alone! #MightyTogether
The View Is Great
Yesterday I posted a thought titled "The Beginning of Hope." It was a thought of mine that I was once suicidal and self-harming at one point but had made it out to the other side, I am now happy.
First, I would like to apologize. I never want anyone to feel the way that I have felt- alone, rejected, and abandoned.
Second, I am not a trained psychiatrist, and I sincerely apologize if I triggered anyone in any way, shape or form in my now-deleted post.
Third, I want you to know that you are not a burden. You are beautiful. You are loved. No matter who you are or what you believe or what you do or what you've done. You are loved.
Fourth, it does get better. Sometimes life feels like an uphill battle. Please keep climbing. The view is great. Make sure you're here to see it.
How does this happen?
I'm both glad and sad about having finally been accurately diagnosed and properly treated for ADHD after 47 years. I'm enjoying the sense of peace and presence I don't think I've ever really felt.
I'm just sad, I suppose, that it took this long. I felt the same way five years ago when I was finally diagnosed with bipolar I and properly treated.
I know it's counterproductive, but I do wonder what my life would have been like if these things had been identified sooner.
I know I could have been spared a lot of pain. I just wonder if I missed out on a lot of joy, too.
I know I can't change anything except how I feel about it.