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Bipolar Disorder And ADHD

Question:

Me and my fiancee have been together for quite awhile and he has always been very understanding of my depression. Recently things have been getting worse with my depression and I have been very moody. I also have recently been diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder and ADHD. It has been putting a major strain on our relationship and I just don’t know how to explain to him that I don’t try to act this way on purpose. I have been trying to control my irritability and not take it out on him but I simply can’t seem to help it. What can him and I do to possibly help make things easier? Are there any ways I can better control this?

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  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

I assume that, having been recently diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar Disorders, that you are now on medication, especially for Bipolar Disorder. However, medication is not enough. My recommendation is that you see a clinical psychologist or licensed clinical social worker whose expertise is in treating Bipolar Disorder.

In particular, I recommend that you find a psychotherapist who uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT will help you identify those situations that cause you to become symptomatic and it will help you learn healthy strategies to reduce your Bipolar symptoms.

Please understand that I do not doubt the Doctor who diagnosed you with both disorders and that does happen. At the same time, it is difficult to distinguish between the two disorders when making a diagnosis. I am just asking if, maybe, its possible that you have Bipolar Disorder instead of ADHD I do not know and, in fact, it is possible that its the reverse. I raise the question because medication and psychotherapy are different for each disorder. It is also true that ADHD carries with it depression and irritability.

Regardless, there are additional things you can do in addition to medication and psychotherapy:

1. Keep your stress levels as low as possible.

2. Learn meditation and deep relaxation as ways to reduce anxiety and stress. Anxiety and stress are not good for either diagnosis.

3. Make certain that you get a full night of sleep.

4. Give yourself leisure time to do the things you enjoy.

5. Think before you speak: Before expressing anger, ask yourself, “what will be the consequences of my anger and is it worth it?

6. Get plenty of exercise.

7. Ask your fiancee to be patient with you.

8. Couples therapy in which your fiancee can learn about your disorders can help him understand a lot better than he does right now.

People learn to live with and control each of these disorders with medication, psychotherapy and these other self help techniques.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • shauna

    I'm 29 yrs of age and honestly I've been on several medications just about my entire life. Unfortunitly, I've recently been dig. with ADHD on top of my Bipolar disorder. I find it to be difficult with the statements given on how to maintain these disorders. I feel the older you get, ( at least for me), the harder it becomes. Being able to control your anger and anxity is much more harder then u think, even being medicated. Your response is probably that I haven't found meds. that work for me. Will, how many different pills do I have to put done my thoart, NOT one docter has found something that totally works for me. Has anyone heard of a study that places wires on certain parts of your head to study and control ur brain waves, ( patterns), ? It's not shock theropy. I'm completely tired of being a guinea pig to meds. and ect. Sorry, if this wasn't a comment to state.

  • Allan N. Schwartz

    Hi Shauna,

    Thank you for your comment and please know that its just fine.

    I hear your frustration. No, the anwer is not more medications. However, I don't know if you have tried psychotherapy, especially, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). It works with both Bipolar and ADHD.

    Did you know that Bipolar and ADHD can be very difficult to distinguish from one another?

    Dr. Schwartz

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