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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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