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Am I Bipolar?

Question:

For the last three years, I’ve been depressed and cut myself. Ive just recently began seeing a psychologist and also went to a psych. hospital. I’m explain my everyday to my Dr. and he says I may be bipolar. My frequent moods include: from being happy but not to the extream all the way to not wanting to get out of bed, crying, and headaches and fatigue. Any little thing will irratate me and i become like this. Now, on the other hand, I may be all smiles and truely happy- but never compleatly happy. I try to hide my saddness. But my question is does it seem like I have any symptoms of Biploar Disorder?

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Answer:

I want to begin by rephrasing your question and I will explain why. The question should be stated as: "Do I have a bipolar disorder?"

None of us are defined by a disorder or illness. It is not that you are bipolar (if you have that disorder) but that you may have that disorder. If someone has a cold they do not say "I am a cold," instead they say "I have a cold." You may think I am making a big deal out of nothing but that is not true. And, I am NOT criticizing you but am pointing out an error we make when it comes to psychological or behavioral problems. The importance of this correction is that it is important to not stigmatize psychological or behavioral disorder at least not any more than is already so. Too often I hear people mention someone they know who “is schizophrenic" rather than someone they know who suffers from a schizophrenic illness. 

So, do you have a bipolar disorder?

It is very difficult for me to know whether or not this is bipolar disorder. There is also the possibility that you have major depression. For a diagnosis of bipolar disorder a person usually needs to experience one or more episodes of mania. A manic episode is much more serious than feeling completely happy. During a true manic episode a person’s judgment is severely impaired. Under such an episode the manic individual may spend thousands of dollars, gamble the house away, or even believe they have superhuman powers and attempt something dangerous.  Major depression is also extremely serious. It will be necessary for you to begin medication treatment in order to relieve your symptoms. If it turns out that you do have a bipolar disorder then you will be put on either lithium or some other mood stabilizer medication to prevent the mood wings. If you have major depression you will be prescribed anti depressant medications to relieve the symptoms you experience.

  It is important for you to understand that you will need to take your medication on a daily basis in order to relieve your symptoms and be able to feel and function as an independent human being. 

In addition to medication treatment for either disorder psychotherapy will remain very important. So, remain in therapy, use it to learn all about your disorder and how to control it, whatever the diagnosis is, and use your medication treatment. In addition, you should avoid alcohol or drug use because these will only worsen either disorder. 

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    This is just a thought. I've suffered from what I thought was just depression. Had other physical symptoms that I attributed to other things. Came down with diabetes and the doctor did labs before he put me on an oral medication. Liver enzymes were elevated. A year later, I asked my new doctor about the elevated enzymes. He repeated the liver panel and then referred me to a GI doctor, whom then ran a bunch of lab test, that I would've never thought of, and had many abnormals. Then on to the rheumatologist after my regular doctor said the labs suggested Lupus. Finally ended up with a diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease, in which there are few clear symptoms, the possibility of having other diseases along with it, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. It now makes some sense. The depression, anxiety, fevers, joint pain and generally not feeling all that good. Most of the time I couldn't and still can't pinpoint specific symptoms when I don't feel good. It's just a thought. Remember, doctors are human beings who want to help, but there are so many diseases out there that are similar, it's hard to diagnose them properly.

  • Tory

    When you next visit your therapist or psychiatrist (NOT primary care physician) I would talk to them about the possibility of Borderline Personality Disorder. Frequent, extreme mood changes and self-harm are both major components of this disorder, which is frequently misdiagnosed as Bipolar. Just a thought, and good luck to you!

  • stephanie torres

    when i was younger the only thing i ever saw in my life was fighting. my dad was abusive my mom was a gang member,... all that. as i started to grow up we moved to florida where i found myself always being stepped on by others. the more i grew up the more my blood started to boil. i'd wake up in the middle of the night half scared and have pissed of for no reason. now,.. im 16 and everything someones says to me gets me extremly angry or just extremly depressed. i desided to go gothic/punk rocker and i started cutting myself a while back. i've had 2 miscarriges and my daddy just died... life f*cking sucks!

  • Phillip

    My entire life, I have been obsessive with things. I never considered it a "disorder". I used my compulsive manerisms to accomplish goals and always tried to be positive no matter what life threw at me. I was successful, by my own definition anyway. I married a wonderful girl, bought land and a house and worked my way into a chef position at a restaurant featured on the Food Network.

    But, right as all my dreams were coming true - I could no longer deny that I had physical problems. I never felt good and I hurt all over all the time. My doctor ran a series of tests and found an extremely high rheumatic count. I had active rheumatoid arthritis. I didn't even know what that was and I was still determined to go on like I didn't have it.

    Well, within a year of the diagnosis my compulsive tendencies exploded into full blown panic attacks. I was taking strong painkillers just to stay upright at work. I landed in the hospital with an enlarged heart and a week later was let go from my job.

    Fast-forward a few years - now - I am sitting at home on disability, literally feeling like I'm going insane. I take anxiety and depression medication along with the horrible - and I mean horrible treatments for RA. My wife acts like she doesn't know me and I'm not even able to keep our 5yr old son while she works. I don't have the ability to just "out think" my problems. I can no longer solve what life throws at me on my own.

    My point is that no matter what eventually becomes of me - I've learned that your brain, your mind... it's a physical part of you. What goes on in our heads as human beings is not removed at all from what goes on in our bodies... because it is the command center for everything that goes on, everything that we do.

    Every bite of food, every vitamin, every pill we put into our mouths has an effect on our thought processess and every one of us is impacted in a different and many times unpredictable manner.

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