Categories
Bipolar Disorder

Inside the Creative World of Bipolar Disorder

In our society, it is common to hear someone call another individual “crazy” or “mentally unstable” because they are diagnosed with a mental illness. In contrast, it is uncommon to acknowledge someone for their creativity. It is even shocking that an individual with a mental illness could be capable of such creativity.

Current society claims an individual with a mental illness or disorder is weak, requires more care than a person without a “mental issue”, or is incapable of performing basic tasks or day-to-day activities without stirring up a scene. The negative and degrading stigmatization around mental health has influenced society to believe mental illnesses or disorders cannot allow an individual to be seen as unique or inspired.

There is an existing link between creativity and mental health. The thinking behind this link has been attributed to many biological accounts of artists, musicians, and poets who have struggled with mental illness and had occasional spikes of creativity in their most memorable masterpieces. This discovery between creativity and mental health has helped redefine what it means to be creative. According to a PubMed scientific analysis which discusses the relationship between creativity and mood disorders conducted by Nancy Andreasen, MD, PhD, creativity can be defined as producing something novel, useful, or beautiful in a very general sense, which accounts for having achieved something leading to public recognition for their work.

The infamous artist, Vincent Van Gogh, had suffered from psychotic mania and depression. He published his greatest works of art, over 300 different entities, in the last year and a half of his life. Sylvia Plath, one of the most admired poets of the 20th century, was struggling with an undiagnosed mood disorder for the majority of her life. There are historical accounts of her last works of poetry indicating Plath worked very late into the night and early in the morning. Aspects of her work contained a dry sense of humor, suggesting a manic or hypomanic state of mind demonstrated in bipolar disorder (Andreasen, 2011). Other well-known figures in history tied in the correlation between creativity and mood disorder were Ernest Heminway, Winston Churchill, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Recently, scientific research has been trying to discover what factors contribute to periods of creativity with individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It has been indicated that manic and hypomanic states are the indicated periods of when creativity spikes the most with elevated levels of productivity. Researchers have investigated that a leading factor to such creativity is due to a connection in genetics (Cirion, 2019). Individuals who liked being in creative fields, such as dancing, writing, and music, carried genes associated with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia up to 25 percent more often. There is evidence behind a genetic component which accounts for the beneficial traits individuals with bipolar disorder may have.

In 1989, there was a study conducted by psychiatrist, Kay Redfield Jamison who surveyed 47 British authors and artists that were being treated for mood disorders and had been hospitalized or on medication for their conditions. The group was asked questions pertaining to the moods experienced during creative episodes. The reported conclusions indicated changes in mood, cognition, and behavior that either preceded or coincided with these creative processes (Burton, 2012). Other significant findings included increased feelings of enthusiasm, energy, self-confidence, and speed of mental association. Symptoms relevant to hypomania that overlapped in the study were elevated mood, heightened fluency of thoughts, and strong sense of well-being (Burton, 2012).

Another study was conducted to find similar traits between creative beings and those with bipolar disorder at Stanford University by Santosa. A temperamental trait that was discovered between individuals with bipolar disorder and creative people was an indication for mild elation and depression with moderate shifts from one to the other (Burton, 2012). There were substantial differences in mental cognition which attributed to creativity during elated and depressive episodes. From the study, the episodes which exhibited mild elation illustrated that these individuals were able to manifest into a state which allowed them to gather vision, confidence, and stamina contributing to creative expression and realization. In contrast, the depressive episodes focused on the current issues in front of them by eliminating irrelevant ideas, conducting self-analysis, and placing their feelings and thoughts into perspective.

Creativity can be unleashed at unexpected times. However, it could be even more unexpected with an individual diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder. This is by no means a reason to romanticize mental health or believe mental illnesses and disorders should be left untreated because there is a chance that it may or may not increase creativity levels.

Most people tend to think that having a mental illness is a reason why they are so different from others who do not have one. Having a mental illness should not limit an individual from thinking they are capable of achieving something in life. Creativity is unique in the way it can flourish and exist in many different individuals. No one should feel inferior or be embodied by the idea that being diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder is the point where creativity stops.

 

References

Andreasen, N. (2008, June 1). The relationship between creativity and mood disorders.

PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181877/

Burton, N. (2012, March 19). Bipolar Disorder and Creativity. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201203/bipolar-disorder-and-creativity

Cirino, E. (2019, December 6).Bipolar Disorder and Creativity. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/famous-creative-people#is-there-a-link

Johnson, S. (2011). Creativity and bipolar disorder: Touched by fire or burning with questions? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3409646/#:~:text=It%20has%20been%20suggested%20that,manic%20symptoms%20can%20enhance%20creativity.

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

Inside the Creative World of Bipolar Disorder

In our society, it is common to hear someone call another individual “crazy” or “mentally unstable” because they are diagnosed with a mental illness. In contrast, it is uncommon to acknowledge someone for their creativity. It is even shocking that an individual with a mental illness could be capable of such creativity.

Current society claims an individual with a mental illness or disorder is weak, requires more care than a person without a “mental issue”, or is incapable of performing basic tasks or day-to-day activities without stirring up a scene. The negative and degrading stigmatization around mental health has influenced society to believe mental illnesses or disorders cannot allow an individual to be seen as unique or inspired.

There is an existing link between creativity and mental health. The thinking behind this link has been attributed to many biological accounts of artists, musicians, and poets who have struggled with mental illness and had occasional spikes of creativity in their most memorable works of art and masterpieces. This discovery between creativity and mental health has helped redefine what it means to be creative. According to a PubMed scientific analysis which discusses the relationship between creativity and mood disorders conducted by Nancy Andreasen, MD, PhD, creativity can be defined as producing something novel, useful, or beautiful in a very general sense, which accounts for having achieved something leading to public recognition for their work.

The infamous artist, Vincent Van Gogh, had suffered from psychotic mania and depression. He published his greatest works of art, over 300 different entities, in the last year and a half of his life. Sylvia Plath, one of the most admired poets of the 20th century, was struggling with an undiagnosed mood disorder for the majority of her life. There are historical accounts of her last works of poetry indicating Plath worked very late into the night and early in the morning. Aspects of her work contained a dry sense of humor, suggesting a manic or hypomanic state of mind demonstrated in bipolar disorder (Andreasen, 2011). Other well-known figures in history tied in the correlation between creativity and mood disorder were Ernest Heminway, Winston Churchill, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Recently, scientific research has been trying to discover what factors contribute to periods of creativity with individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It has been indicated that manic and hypomanic states are the indicated periods of when creativity spikes the most with elevated levels of productivity. Researchers have investigated that a leading factor to such creativity is due to a connection in genetics (Cirion, 2019). Individuals who liked being in creative fields, such as dancing, writing, and music, carried genes associated with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia up to 25 percent more often. There is evidence behind a genetic component which accounts for the beneficial traits individuals with bipolar disorder may have.

In 1989, there was a study conducted by psychiatrist, Kay Redfield Jamison who surveyed 47 British authors and artists that were being treated for mood disorders and had been hospitalized or on medication for their conditions. The group was asked questions pertaining to the moods experienced during creative episodes. The reported conclusions indicated changes in mood, cognition, and behavior that either preceded or coincided with these creative processes (Burton, 2012). Other significant findings included increased feelings of enthusiasm, energy, self-confidence, and speed of mental association. Symptoms relevant to hypomania that overlapped in the study were elevated mood, heightened fluency of thoughts, and strong sense of well-being (Burton, 2012).

Another study was conducted to find similar traits between creative beings and those with bipolar disorder at Stanford University by Santosa. A temperamental trait that was discovered between individuals with bipolar disorder and creative people was an indication for mild elation and depression with moderate shifts from one to the other (Burton, 2012). There were substantial differences in mental cognition which attributed to creativity during elated and depressive episodes. From the study, the episodes which exhibited mild elation illustrated that these individuals were able to manifest into a state which allowed them to gather vision, confidence, and stamina contributing to creative expression and realization. In contrast, the depressive episodes focused on the current issues in front of them by eliminating irrelevant ideas, conducting self-analysis, and placing their feelings and thoughts into perspective.

Creativity can be unleashed at unexpected times. However, it could be even more unexpected with an individual diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder. This is by no means a reason to romanticize mental health or believe mental illnesses and disorders should be left untreated because there is a chance that it may or may not increase creativity levels.

Most people tend to think that having a mental illness is a reason why they are so different from others who do not have one. Having a mental illness should not limit an individual from thinking they are capable of achieving something in life. Creativity is unique in the way it can flourish and exist in many different individuals. No one should feel inferior or be embodied by the idea that being diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder is the point where creativity stops.

 

References

Andreasen, N. (2008, June 1). The relationship between creativity and mood disorders.

PubMed Central(PMC).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181877/

Burton, N. (2012, March 19). Bipolar Disorder and Creativity. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201203/bipolar-disorder-and-creativity

Cirino, E. (2019, December 6).Bipolar Disorder and Creativity. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/famous-creative-people#is-there-a-link

Johnson, S. (2011). Creativity and bipolar disorder: Touched by fire or burning with questions? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3409646/#:~:text=It%20has%20been%20suggested%20that,manic%20symptoms%20can%20enhance%20creativity.

Categories
Bipolar Disorder Depression

The Winter Blues Disguised in SADness: Seasonal Affective Disorder

As we make our way into the cold and dark winter season, it is fairly common to see a change in people’s mood and experience a form of the ‘winter blues’. Winter can be a difficult season to experience as the days become shorter, colder, and limited in the amount of sunlight available. One is more likely to spend time indoors and may not participate in the same activities one was able to in the warmer months. It is quite common to see many feeling lethargic and down more than often. Can someone experience a more serious form of the winter blues? Can the winter months get you down more than you think? Yes. It’s called seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.

SAD is more than just the winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is known as a mood disorder characterized by the predictable depressive onset in the colder fall and winter months and hypomanic or manic episodes during the spring and summer months. A distinct feature that stems from this kind of mood disorder is that the symptoms tend to appear during the same months when seasons change. For example, an individual who tends to experience feelings of SAD during the colder months, can start to see symptoms emerge late fall to the early days of December. SAD has been studied to be linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain produced by less daylight hours and sunlight in the winter. It may be rare, but SAD can be experienced in the summer months. 

Symptoms of SAD vary among seasons. Typical symptoms of SAD in the cold winter months consist of hypersomnia and increased appetite (specifically additional cravings of carbohydrates) (Ghaemi, 2020). When a study was conducted to see correlations between seasonal affective disorder and bipolar disorder, a 24 year-old woman shared her symptoms of SAD. “She craves bread, pasta, and sweets and reports increased appetite in winter compared with summer. Fatigue and difficulty concentrating are causing her problems at work and school.” (Roecklein, Rohan, & Postolache, 2010). The study concludes how different symptoms appear in the colder months compared to the warmer months. Several describe their symptoms of SAD during the winter months to be a period of hibernation where they rather be trapped away in their homes. Other symptoms can include feelings of no motivation, loss of interest, and decreased levels of energy (Team, 2020). 

A striking difference between experiencing this mood disorder between the colder and warmer months is people who are struggling with SAD during the spring and summer months tend to have a loss of appetite and insomnia. It is common between these warmer months where an individual will tend to have hypomanic or manic episodes. However, a similarity between the seasons is that an individual will experience a typical form of depressive symptoms. A dive into typical depressive symptoms are feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, withdrawal from family and friends, agitation, and a sluggish mood (Borenstein, 2019). SAD depressive symptoms can lead to suicidal thoughts which are distinctive of major depression. 

One may ask what exactly causes SAD? There are three major causes to this condition. The first apparent cause is a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm which is referred to as the body’s biological clock. Due to the reduced amount of sunlight in the fall and winter months, the body recognizes this disruption in its internal clock that may lead to the winter onset of SAD and introduction to depressive symptoms. This shift in the body’s internal clock is what can lead an individual to step outside of their daily schedule (Torres, 2020). The neurotransmitter called serotonin, responsible for mood regulation and stabilizing feelings of happiness and well-being, is noticeably reduced in individuals diagnosed with SAD. Another probable cause of SAD onset would be the over-production of the hormone melatonin in the body, which contributes to an individual feeling more tired and having lower levels of energy. 

Because SAD is categorized as a mood disorder and demonstrates cyclic seasonal patterns of depressive or manic symptoms, it exhibits commonalities with bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), initial studies were conducted on 29 patients which revealed that 93% of them had bipolar illness. Through many experimental studies, it has been discovered seasons affect mood even more for individuals with bipolar disorder compared to individuals with depression (Shin, 2005). The rebirth of spring and longer days can contribute to symptoms of mania in individuals with bipolar disorder. The relationship between seasons and mood can play a major impact on bipolar disorder and have the potential for triggering symptomatic behavior. 

If you feel that you are experiencing symptoms of SAD and these symptoms are invading other parts of your life, it is important to seek out professional help, especially if you feel down for more than a couple of days at a time. There are many types of treatment options for SAD, consisting of light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication. Light therapy is considered a form of phototherapy where an individual will sit in front of a light therapy box emitting a very bright light for approximately 20-60 minutes. Many people will tend to see improvements within the first two weeks of light therapy. The concept behind light therapy is to replenish the amount of sunlight that gets diminished from the fall and winter months. It is recommended that light therapy be used in the early fall to prevent symptoms from occurring.   

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been effective for individuals combating SAD. CBT is recognized as a talk therapy where individuals can improve and develop coping skills for the seasons (Rohan, 2013). As the name suggests, there are two components to this form of therapy, cognitive and behavioral, that individuals work on equally. The cognitive component is composed of learning to access and deal with the negative emotions and thoughts when experiencing SAD symptoms.The behavioral aspect consists of identifying and scheduling pleasurable everyday activities during the winter months to offset the lethargic feelings developed in SAD. To counteract the decreased levels of serotonin in the body, the most common type of medication used for SAD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a type of antidepressant. 

The most integral part of dealing with SAD is to take care of your general health. This can consist of eating a proper diet, getting enough sleep, and spending time with friends and loved ones. One of the key aspects to offset SAD is to embrace the joys of winter and enjoy the season in order to get through the difficult months of the year. The winter season is a time of the holidays and bringing others together. The winter months may not share the same activities one may enjoy in the summer months. However, you can pick up a pair of skates with a friend and go ice skating. You can bring loved ones closer together by making a comforting and cozy meal. One should not feel the cold of the winter alone, so it is important to try to be as occupied as you can. It is very possible to stay active, healthy and happy and combat the grueling symptoms of SAD one can face.  

 

References

Borenstein, J. (2019, December 31). The Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Brain & Behavior. https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/winter-blues-or-seasonal-affective-disorder

Ghaemi, S. N. (2020, January 28). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) : Facts and Misconceptions. https://reference.medscape.com/slideshow/seasonal-affective-disorder-6007256

Levitan, D. (2007, September 1). The chronobiology and neurobiology of winter seasonal affective disorder. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202491/

Roecklein, K., Rohan, K., & Postolache, T. (2010, February). Is seasonal affective disorder a bipolar variant? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874241/

Rohan, K. (2013). Pardon Our Interruption. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/02/seasonal-disorder

Shin, K. (2005, May 1). Seasonality in a community sample of bipolar, unipolar and control subjects. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032704004380

Team, B. A. S. (2020, September 30). What’s the Difference Between the ‘Winter Blues’ and Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD)? Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/whats-the-difference-between-the-winter-blues-and-seasonal-affective-disorder-or-sad/

Torres, F. (2020, October). What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?  https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Spectrum: The Four Categories of Bipolar Disorder

The complexity of bipolar disorder is not well known to the public eye. Bipolar disorder is not just about mood swings. Although most people experience mood changes from time to time, approximately 4.4 percent of adults in the United States experience some form of bipolar disorder in their lifetime. Additionally, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 2.8 percent of the population are diagnosed with this disorder. Therefore, it is critical to draw attention to this issue and encourage individuals who are struggling with bipolar disorder to seek help and treatment. Mental health professionals have researched this mood disorder for several years and categorized bipolar disorder into four major types. It is important that people are informed about the intricacies behind bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes unusual mood shifts which include emotional highs and lows. Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression due to the severity of emotions examined in individuals who were struggling to cope with this disorder. The causes of this condition are quite puzzling for doctors; most research indicates genetic and environmental factors which contribute to the disorder onset. Mental health experts have categorized the types of bipolar disorder according to the duration and intensity of an episode (Polansky, 2020). 

Some mental health experts have further categorized bipolar disorder as a spectrum disorder (Higuera, 2019). The concept of the spectrum is to not only to categorize certain types of bipolar disorder, but to refer to other symptoms or conditions that may be contributing to the disorder, such as impulse control, personality, anxiety, or substance abuse. Symptoms alone are not enough to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Mental health professionals use the spectrum because some symptoms may loosely resemble certain types that lead to ineffective treatments. Bipolar disorder has distinctly shown elevations and fluctuations in mood which become severe to the point where it begins to affect all aspects of life. Negative changes in behavior, energy levels, concentration, ways of thinking, and disruption in sleep patterns are aspects that can be easily affected by bipolar disorder. The intensity of symptoms seen in manic or depressive episodes can make everyday life difficult to handle. Nonetheless, forms of mania, hypomania, and depressive symptoms are the commonalities that are all demonstrated in the different types of bipolar disorder.  

The emotional highs refers to mania which can be described as the “up” mood. A manic individual may experience an abnormally escalated, energetic, and hyperactive mood. The mania behavior can be exhibited by excessive talking, lack of sleep, increased likelihood to act impulsively, and delusions or hallucinations (Purse, 2020). During a manic episode, an individual is more likely to engage in risky behaviors and make irrational decisions. Some potential behaviors include spending large sums of money that they cannot afford or participating in sexual indiscretions while being in a committed relationship. Manic episodes can last up to seven days and some episodes may be intense to the point of hospitalization. In comparison to mania, hypomania can be described as less severe compared to a manic episode (Roland, 2019). Both manic and hypomanic episodes cannot be considered as such episodes if influenced by alcohol or drugs. 

The depressive symptoms that are commonly shown in bipolar disorder can be regarded as the “low” mood. Depressive episodes can be defined as lengthy periods of sadness or hopelessness. Symptoms consist of tiredness, emptiness, loss of interest in activities that used to bring pleasure, fatigue, decreased energy levels, and suicidal thoughts. During a depressive episode, an individual can also experience physical symptoms such as body aches and pains (Purse, 2020). Other physical symptoms could be either weight gain or loss. It is common for people with bipolar disorder to struggle with eating if they are feeling down, while others turn to food for comfort.

 Bipolar disorder can be further categorized into four different types: bipolar 1, bipolar 2, cyclothymia, and unspecified disorders that do not match the other three types (Hayes, 2020). However, the types that are most commonly diagnosed are bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 (Roland, 2019). The main difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 is the severity of manic episodes. A person diagnosed with bipolar 1 will experience a full manic episode, while a person with bipolar 2 may only experience a hypomanic episode. Mania is described as the main characteristic of bipolar 1 disorder. 

Another difference between a person with bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 is a person with bipolar 1 may or may not experience a major depressive episode, while a person with bipolar 2 is known to experience a major depressive episode (Roland, 2019). People with bipolar 2 tend to seek help when they enter the major depressive state and are often misdiagnosed with clinical depression. Unlike individuals with bipolar 1, individuals with bipolar 2 experience a hypomanic episode and a major depression state that can last up to two weeks (Roland, 2019). There is a strong chance the severity of the hypomanic episode does not require hospitalization, unlike manic episodes characterized in bipolar 1. 

The third known form of bipolar disorder is called cyclothymia, a milder mood disorder that has symptoms similar to bipolar 2 (Kerr, 2018). Cyclothymia fluctuates between low level forms of depressive symptoms and periods of hypomania. The changes in mood of high and low appear in cycles. In between these mood cycles, an individual with cyclothymia will feel stable and like their usual self. In order to be diagnosed with cyclothymia, symptoms need to be persistent for a range of two years for adults, and at least one year in children. Cyclothymia commonly appears at the adolescent stage. Since the mood swings exhibited in cyclothymia are not as severe in bipolar 1 or 2, people appear to function normally. Therefore, teenagers and younger children will be misdiagnosed and considered to be going through stages of puberty. Adolescents will be wrongly seen as “difficult” or “moody,” which can result in not seeking treatment (Kerr, 2018). 

If left untreated for cyclothymia, people have increased chances of developing bipolar disorder by a 15 to 50 percent rate (Cagliostro, 2020). In regards to the other types of bipolar disorder, cyclothymia misses the main criteria of this mood disorder which is manic or depressive episodes. In fact, most people diagnosed with cyclothymia may appear more productive or active in their work which leads others to believe they are functioning fine. 

The last type of bipolar disorder can be due to a medical or substance abuse disorder (Hayes, 2020). This type is harder to diagnose as it does not have a specific pattern of symptoms. The fluctuations in mood will be considered to meet the standards of abnormal mood behavior. Compared to cyclothymia, an individual with this form of bipolar disorder will display symptoms of hypomania and mild depression that may not be persistent for two years. During depressive episodes, the mood elevations will be less than mild to be considered a form of mania or hypomania. These set of symptoms can lead to many individuals being misdiagnosed, which can be due to the lack of awareness of this form of bipolar disorder. Small levels of manic and hypomanic episodes can occur from taking antidepressant medication (Northpoint, 2019). Depending on the individual and their treatment plan, antidepressants can trigger an episode to occur. The lack of awareness normalizes the use of substance and alcohol for individuals with bipolar disorder as a coping method instead of seeking treatment.

Bipolar disorder is considered to be a chronic mental health disorder that does not have a cure. The public needs to be aware of the complexities of this mood disorder and empower others so they can live their lives the way they want to. People should not feel controlled or limited by bipolar disorder. Many individuals who do seek out treatment should be aware that this disorder does not have a quick fix. It will take time for an individual to find the right medication and mental health professional to guide them to have a stable life, but it is not impossible for someone with bipolar disorder to have a healthy life. 

 

References

Bipolar disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2017). Nami.Org. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder

Bipolar disorder. (2018, January 31). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955

Cagliostro, D. (2020, September 28). Cyclothymia Personality, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. Psycom.Net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986. https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.cyclothymia.html

Hayes, L. N. (2020, September 1). 4 Different Types of Bipolar Disorder, and How They’re Treated. Talkspace. https://www.talkspace.com/blog/types-of-bipolar-disorder/#:%7E:text=According%20to%20the%20American%20Psychiatric,medical%20or%20substance%20abuse%20disorder.

Higuera, V. (2019, February 21). Bipolar spectrum: Types, diagnosis, and treatment. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314829

Kerr, M. (2018, August 20). Cyclothymia. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/cyclothymia

NIMH » Bipolar Disorder. (2020, October 9). Nimh.Nih.Gov. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

Polansky, B. (2020, February 08). 4 Types of Bipolar Disorder: Treatment Options.  https://firststepbh.com/blog/the-4-types-of-bipolar-disorder-what-treatment-options-are-available/

Purse, M. (2020, March 24). These Are the Most Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/bipolar-disorder-symptoms-and-diagnosis-379962

Roland, J. (2019, January 10). Bipolar 1 Disorder and Bipolar 2 Disorder: What Are the Differences? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-1-vs-bipolar-2#symptoms

Staff, N. (2019, October 25). Comparing and Contrasting: The 4 Types of Bipolar Disorder. Northpoint Recovery’s Blog. https://www.northpointrecovery.com/blog/comparing-contrasting-4-types-bipolar-disorder/

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

Spikes in Mania: Individuals with Bipolar Disorder and Surviving a Global Pandemic

After the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan, China, the ongoing pandemic has spread to the United States and continued its infectious outrage upon our country. For the past seven months Americans were ordered to lockdown, quarantine, and social distance. Being in lockdown and quarantine, most people did not have so much free time up until now. Daily routines and normal living standards seem to be out the window and people are dealing with social isolation, financial instability, and job loss because of the wrath of the pandemic. This never imaginable situation has opened the door to a new world for many individuals.

People who were used to a normal daily routine and a structured life may have fallen into the realm of struggling thoughts they have not experienced before. With no need to clock into work, people spend most days filled with unproductiveness and unfulfillment. COVID-19 had an unprecedented impact on everybody thus far. However, for the individuals who have dealt with mental illness, what does the pandemic mean to them? How have individuals with mental illness been surviving a time like this without access to self-help services? Specifically, the individuals living with bipolar disorder?

Most people living with bipolar disorder experience everyday struggles, which can simply consist of not being able to balance school or work, having a social life, or having a healthy relationship. Life may feel more difficult than usual due to the severity one may feel after a manic or depressive episode. Individuals with bipolar disorder could prioritize finding a treatment plan to stabilize their behavior. Many feel that as soon as they find a treatment plan that works for them, they are able to understand their mental state better and are able to have their quality of life back.

Being able to develop a routine allows an individual with bipolar disorder to maintain stability. The better individuals can plan out their time and daily activities, the higher the chance they can avoid future stressors from ruining their day or week. Elaina J. Martin, a blogger diagnosed with bipolar disorder, states, “Unexpected stressors can lead to episodes for me so the better I can plan things, the more stable I am.” (Tartakovsky, 2018). An essential aspect that must be implemented into a stable, daily routine is a consistent sleep schedule. Sleep deprivation is a known contributing factor to most manic episodes for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder (Tartakovsky, 2018). By having set times for when to sleep and wake up, it establishes structure and determines an idea of how each day will proceed.

By creating a nuance in everyday life, the virus could potentially have a severe long-lasting effect on the individuals living with bipolar disorder (Stefana & Youngstrom, 2020). Due to the current emergency in the United States, a great disadvantage for those who seek public and mental health services is the decrease in accessibility to proper outpatient care. In addition, it is common for social stigma flares to occur. People who have contracted coronavirus are likely to be ostracized and are prone to bullying by society because of the hostility created between others. Anyone who has contracted the virus is being looked at as infectious creatures that are deathly. Therefore, the stigma against the virus has allowed a pathway for individuals to no longer be looked at as normal human beings.

With society under stress, people living with bipolar disorder may pose as high-risk individuals and can become more ostracized. Bipolar disorder is already heavily prone to stigmatization among other mental illnesses and disorders. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder struggle with how society may view them, “people who can’t control their emotions” or “people who have crazy episodes out of nowhere.”

The possibility of contracting an infectious virus is becoming a well known hardship that many would not like to face. Emotions run high for anyone who is currently sick with the virus. But an individual with bipolar disorder not having proper access to treatment for their condition while having the virus poses a different type of threat to their well-being. The harsh reality of those two burdens would easily provoke a sense of self-isolation and high hostility instead of the support one needs (Stefana & Youngstrom, 2020).

As the pandemic continues to spread in the world, it poses a difficult set of additional challenges for the individual with bipolar disorder. The current challenges consist of disruption in regular routines, consistent treatment interfered by quarantine and lockdown, increased surges in manic episodes due to social isolation, increased agitation by the fear of illness, and loss of life leading to a depressive state. From these challenges, a person with bipolarity can feel a strong symptomatic response. The pandemic is the type of situation that would trigger the multitude for a destabilized mood, interpersonal conflicts, self-destructive behaviors, and possible suicide (Johnson & Brown, 2020). It is important that individuals with bipolar disorder are aware of what they can do to cope and manage stress during a pandemic.

People with bipolar disorder need to be reassured that this pandemic can also be seen as a time of opportunity, healing, and triumph. Individuals have the opportunity to experiment with different coping strategies. A few activities that would help the stress of the situation are eating healthy meals regularly, getting an adequate amount of sleep, spending time outside, staying active, and scheduling what times of the day to work, relax, and connect with friends and family. Another coping strategy is to be aware of when feelings start to manifest and manage them immediately rather than later (Dresden, 2020). Individuals can also find ways to have a supply for their medication directly delivered from their pharmacy and to telecommunicate with their mental health providers (Johnson & Brown, 2020).

We don’t know how much longer coronavirus will continue to sweep the nation, but the pandemic can be seen as a time to prioritize ourselves to a much greater degree than we have been used to. What is important is to be aware of what we can do for ourselves and those vulnerable to ensure healthy physical and mental well-being. Like many in this world, people with bipolar disorder are fully capable of taking control of their lives, even during a pandemic.

 

References

Dresden, D. (2020, May). Bipolar and COVID-19: Tips on management and how to cope. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/bipolar-and-covid-19

Johnson, S., & Brown, B. (2020, May 13). Bipolar Disorder and COVID-19: Crisis and Opportunity. Retrieved from https://www.crestbd.ca/2020/05/12/bipolar-covid-19-wikijournal/

Stefana, A., & Youngstrom, E. (2020, July 04). The COVID‐19 pandemic is a crisis and opportunity for bipolar disorder. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bdi.12949

Tartakovsky, M. (2018, October 08). Building a Routine When You Have Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/building-a-routine-when-you-have-bipolar-disorder/

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

First Semester of College: The Ups and Downs of Bipolar Disorder

In regards to learning about bipolar disorder, most information online mainly pertains to adults living with this disease and its harmful effects toward their family or work life. Many individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be susceptible to the world of addiction and substance abuse. The duration and aftermath of manic or depressive episodes can definitely put a strain on relationships with loved ones. Additionally, most articles focus on ensuring living with bipolar disorder is not a nightmare in the long run. 

However, not much information is present online for the younger individuals living with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed throughout an individual’s lifetime; initial symptoms can appear as early as late teens or early twenties (Silver, 2019). An individual entering an age of adulthood and living with bipolar disorder is not an easy task. What about the young adults and teenagers starting a new chapter in their life, like college? 

It was until her freshman year when student Andrea Garza was diagnosed with bipolar II and realized her life “doesn’t have to be like this forever.”. Before her diagnosis, Andrea felt simply broken and was not able to transition into college properly. She constantly felt abnormally confused from meeting all the new peers. Deep down, however, Andrea felt something was not right and needed answers immediately before dreading college life.  

After her diagnosis, Andrea felt she found the answers she was searching for this whole time. There was no longer the need to feel alone as she quickly learned the struggles young adults experience in college.

Before Andrea was diagnosed, she displayed symptoms of bipolar disorder during her childhood. Her first manic episode occurred in elementary school; as the years passed on the episodes seemed to occur more frequently (Meyertons, 2018). In her teenage years, she used alcohol to self-medicate to offset the confusion of her manic feelings. Bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse can be viewed as a dangerous combination. A heavy dose of alcohol with heightened symptoms of bipolar disorder can lead to an escalated risk of mood swings, depressive or suicidal thoughts, and engaging in violent acts (Hall-Flavin, 2019).  

Andrea’s first year of undergrad was very difficult for her to adjust to while experiencing episodes of hypomania. College is constantly circulating drugs and alcohol. It was very common for individuals to have their first episode on campus and be unaware their behavior is characterized as bipolar (Meyertons, 2018). Due to her hypomanic episodes, Andrea discovered she had small sparks of productivity which helped her finish her work for most classes, yet found grave difficulty in going to her classes. Andrea states, “Every task is an impossible task,” and how she could not  “even process the thought of showering or eating” (Meyertons, 2018). After going through her first fall semester, she finally sought out professional help and treatment.  

An estimated 2.8% of individuals as young as 18 are diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the United States. Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder categorized when an individual experiences drastic changes in mood and behavior. The causes of this condition are quite puzzling for doctors; most research indicates genetic and environmental factors which contribute to the disorder onset. Bipolar disorder is also commonly referred to as manic-depressive disorder due to the energetic, happy, and active “up” mood behavior during peak of a manic episode. However, this energetic behavior can follow up with a depressive episode or “down” mood where one can feel immensely sad, hopeless, or less active . These changes in mood, or “mood swing” episodes, could last from hours to even months

Andrea was on an antipsychotic drug for roughly two years before switching to another drug with reduced side effects compared to the previous drug she was on. After switching to a new medication, Andrea began to experience severe withdrawal symptoms and a new range of side effects (Meyertons, 2018). Then, Andrea stopped taking medication and going to therapy. Shortly after, she experienced a full blown manic episode. Once the manic episode took a toll on Andrea, she fell  into a highly depressive state. Entering a depressive state after stopping medication is fairly common behavior for bipolar 2 disorder. 

Currently, Andrea is very grateful for medication and swears medication is the reason she is alive today. She was one of many individuals caught in an environment where bipolar is not spoken about enough and young adults quickly respond with “you’re crazy” and “you’ve got issues.” Andrea urges others who have experienced a manic or hypomanic episode at college to go to the counseling and mental health services available at their campus. If you are nervous about seeking help, ask a friend to go with you or call someone at the counseling center to get started. College is a time period where one is experiencing personal growth, development and creating self-identity. Andrea stresses a great importance for accepting yourself and being open with others. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Being bipolar does not have to shape who you are.

 

References

Hall-Flavin, D. (2019, April 04). Each can worsen the symptoms and severity of the other. Retrieved September 12, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/expert-answers/bipolar-disorder/faq-20057890

Hayes, L. (2020, September 01). 4 Different Types of Bipolar Disorder, and How They’re Treated. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://www.talkspace.com/blog/types-of-bipolar-disorder/

Johnson, J. (2019). Bipolar in teens: What are the early signs? Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324365

Meyertons, K. (2018). ‘I just thought I was broken’: How UT student copes with bipolar diagnosis. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://thedailytexan.com/2018/11/28/%E2%80%98i-just-thought-i-was-broken%E2%80%99-how-ut-student-copes-with-bipolar-diagnosis

(n.d.). Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-children-and-teens/index.shtml

Purse, M. (2020, March 24). These Are the Most Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/bipolar-disorder-symptoms-and-diagnosis-379962

Read, K. (2019). How Often Do People With Bipolar Disorder Cycle? Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/bipolar-disorder-how-often-do-people-cycle-378814

Roland, J. (2019, January 10). Bipolar 1 vs. Bipolar 2: Know the Difference. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-1-vs-bipolar-2

Silver, N. (2019, November 05). Late Onset Bipolar Disorder (LOBD): Symptoms, Statistics, and Mor. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/later-in-life

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

It’s All in the Genes: Increased Creativity and Bipolar Disorder

Winston Churchill, Nietchze, Mariah Carey, Vincent Van Gogh, and Kurt Cobain. What do they all have in common? Although they may have lived in different times, and done different things with their lives, they all made a lasting impact. They all had strong, talented, and creative minds able to make a large and lasting impact. While creativity is one thing that connects them, bipolar disorder is another. For years, scientists have been studying a possible connection between bipolar disorder and higher creativity. Although bipolar disorder, as well as other mental illnesses, are often viewed in a negative light, the people who have them shouldn’t necessarily be portrayed the same way. People who have bipolar disorder are more than their diagnosis, they are their impact.

Over the years, it has been speculated that there is a correlation between bipolar disorder and increased creativity, due to the high number of people with bipolar disorder who have made creative advances. Studies have found that there is a correlation between bipolar disorder and high creativity, but the question is why. Some speculated that the intense emotions associated with bipolar disorder resulted in this increased creativity, but in recent years, it has been found that there is a significant genetic component as well. Those who are predisposed to bipolar disorder are more likely to exhibit creative features. Creativity and bipolar disorder are determined by our DNA. These changes in DNA for people with bipolar disorder display themselves in many ways, including the way the brain is structured. Brain scans of people with bipolar disorder show that they have “diminished frontal regulation of subcortical affective systems involving the amygdala and striatum, which may increase their affective instability as well as their compulsiveness” (Collingwood, 2018). This specific brain structure allows for many of the boundaries in a “typical” brain to not exist in the brain of a person with bipolar disorder. Researchers have found that creative individuals are up to 25% more likely than non-creative people to carry genes that are associated with bipolar disorder. Studies have shown that in relatives of people with bipolar disorder who do not share the same diagnosis, this same creativity is often still passed on. This proves that although creativity and bipolar disorder might not be always be necessarily connected, they are associated genetically.

The creativity exhibited by people with bipolar disorder can exist in a variety of different forms. One study found that children with higher IQ’s were more likely to exhibit the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder later in life. In using IQ as a test of intelligence, people with bipolar disorder or who exhibit bipolar features are essentially smarter than those who do not have bipolar disorder or features. Another study found that those who have higher than average grades in high school were four times more likely to develop bipolar disorder than those who had average grades. One study looking at business people found that those who had symptoms of bipolar disorder were more likely to be successful entrepreneurs. Overall, it seems that some of the world’s smartest and greatest minds have bipolar disorder. Many people who have high creativity, such as those that work and participate in creative fields, may carry genes associated with bipolar disorder, even if they are not aware of it. Fields and talents such as acting, music, and dancing are more likely to have people with bipolar disorder or bipolar features. One study found that poets are 30% more likely to have bipolar disorder in comparison to the rest of the population.

The intense emotions associated with bipolar disorder can trigger episodes of creativity. Periods of hypomania and mania are associated with high energy, irritability, and outgoing mood. Particularly, the high energy of hypomania can bring on creative episodes. Many artists and other creative individuals describe their episodes of hypomania and mania as their most creative times. Hypomania in particular is associated with heightened periods of creativity, cognitive thinking, and mental speed. Andrew, a rapper with bipolar disorder, says that although he can write new lyrics when he is depressed or stable, he is able to write faster while experiencing hypomania. When experiencing a hypomanic episode, a person might feel inclined to create, whether it be for a reason, or simply just for a release. The feelings of mania and hypomania can easily become overwhelming for the person experiencing them. Engaging in creative activities can relieve some of the pent up energy associated with hypomania and mania. Even for people without bipolar disorder, engaging in creative arts can be therapeutic. It is important to note that sometimes mania in particular can be so intense that it actually inhibits creativity. This is where treatment can help stabilize a lot of the intense emotions experienced by people with bipolar disorder.

When considering the relationship between bipolar disorder and high levels of creativity it is important to remember a few things. Not everyone who has bipolar disorder experiences increased creativity or enjoys engaging in creative tasks. Additionally, the struggles of bipolar disorder still exist even if the people who have it are able to create beautiful art. Mental illness is not something that should be romanticized. That being said, the association of high creativity and bipolar disorder just shows that people with mental illness are so much more than a label.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

Cirino, E. (2018) Bipolar Disorder and Creativity. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/famous-creative-people

Collingwood, J. (2018) The Link Between Bipolar Disorder and Creativity. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-link-between-bipolar-disorder-and-creativity/

Jackel, D. (2019) The Truth About The Connection Between Bipolar Mania and Creativity. Retrieved from https://www.bphope.com/bipolar-mania-creativity/

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

A Barrier of Parental Love: The Relationships of Parents With Bipolar Disorder

Just as bipolar disorder is unique to each individual that experiences it, the relationships to those with bipolar disorder are unique as well. For a child, being raised by a parent with bipolar disorder can be stressful, confusing and sometimes traumatic. For parents with bipolar disorder, raising children can be exhausting, intimidating, and shameful. Familial relationships are complicated as it is; the ups and downs of bipolar disorder can make matters more complex and difficult for everyone involved. Self-care and open discussion are crucial for those impacted by bipolar disorder in families.

Being raised by a parent struggling with bipolar disorder can be extremely difficult. The experience of a child being raised by a parent with this disorder can vary. Some children may never even know that their parent has a mental illness, while for others it is very apparent. It all depends on how the parent is coping with the disorder. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the actions of parents with bipolar disorder can have lasting impacts on their children because of the inner turmoil they’re experiencing. Seeing a parent go through the roller coaster ride that is bipolar disorder can be extremely confusing for a child. Some children, like Satya, try to bury and avoid the struggles of growing up with a parent suffering from this disorder. When Satya was young, she recalls running to her room and hiding during her father’s intense manic episodes. Similarly, she would simply avoid her father during his episodes of depression. Other children try to help and confront the struggles head on. Michelle took an active role in trying to help her mother who struggled with bipolar disorder. She would stay home from school when her mother was too depressed to leave bed. Having such a large responsibility and stress at a young age had a great impact on her going forward. The issues that can arise from being raised by a parent struggling with bipolar disorder can be lifelong. Children of parents with bipolar disorder are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse substances, engage in risky sexual behavior, and behave aggressively. Additionally, children may have issues establishing relationships, experience financial stress, and experience severe emotional distress. Many of these symptoms are linked to trauma from childhood. This trauma can happen from abuse and negative environments brought on by a parent with bipolar disorder. The experience of a child growing up with a parent who has bipolar disorder can be quite contradictory. Satya recalls the confusion she experienced as a child, “Despite the love my father had for me, he would mimic a school bully at times, as if an impersonator devoid of compassion took his place” (Khare, 2016). Although a parent may deeply love their child, bipolar disorder can change the way they behave and raise their child. Looking beyond the diagnosis and struggles of bipolar disorder is extremely important for children to do once they grow old enough to understand. Bipolar disorder can be a boundary between a parent’s love and their child.

There is this idea that just because a parent has a mental illness, their child automatically has a mental illness as well. Not only is this false, but it can also be harmful to both the child and parent. Being raised or born by a person with bipolar disorder does not specifically indicate that the offspring will have the same disorder. However, there is a genetic component to bipolar disorder. A child who has one parent diagnosed with bipolar disorder has between a 15% and 30% likelihood of being diagnosed. A child who has two parents with bipolar disorder has between a 50% and 75% chance of being diagnosed. Although bipolar disorder is fairly hereditary, there can be other causes as well, including brain structure and environmental factors. When raising a child with a strong connection to bipolar disorder, it is a good idea to complete a screening to recognize the disorder earlier. Bipolar disorder has a high hereditary component so it is important to share family history with a doctor, as the diagnosis often comes sooner and easier.

Parenting with bipolar disorder can be very difficult. The fatigue and lack of motivation associated with depressive episodes can make it hard to do anything, especially care for a child. The presence of intense, high energy manic episodes can make it difficult for a middle schooler to concentrate on his work at home. Growing up with a parent who has bipolar disorder can be difficult for a child to understand. Having open conversations about bipolar disorder between the parent and child can be extremely beneficial regarding the child’s understanding of his or her parent’s actions or feelings. Establishing that the parent is mentally ill and not acting or feeling a certain way because they want to or because they don’t love the child is crucial. Children have a lot of questions and so communication is very important. The best way to keep bipolar disorder from getting in the way of a relationship is to seek treatment. Similar to any other illness, alleviating symptoms can make things better for everyone involved. People with bipolar disorder can be amazing parents, they just have to treat their symptoms. Having a child is a strong motivation to stick with treatment and try to establish a better quality of life. Lynn, a mother of a 12 year old boy, began struggling with bipolar disorder shortly after having her son. She describes having extremely intense episodes and being unable to control her actions. She struggled for years to find the right treatment for her. Once she did, she was able to establish a better relationship with her son. “Since 2012, I have had no issues with my disorder interfering with my ability to be a great parent. The key to being a great parent is to make sure you’re healthy first. Make sure you take your medication regularly and as prescribed, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and try to exercise” (Ulrich, 2016). When you’re healthy, your relationships will be healthy, especially relationships with your children. Importantly, parents with bipolar disorder need to be able to trust in themselves that they are capable and doing a good job. It is important to recognize that people with bipolar disorder are not automatically putting the child in a negative situation, simply by making the decision to have children knowing of their disorder.

Reaching out and getting help is important. It is important not only for the person who has the disorder, but for their family and friends who have been impacted as well. Getting help can manifest itself in many different ways including going to therapy, talking to a friend, or talking things through with family members. Michelle struggled to heal from her childhood trauma, which was living with her mother who suffered from bipolar disorder. She has overcome the difficulties of her upbringing and recognizes the importance of getting help and talking about the issue. “There’s been too much silence around this issue, too much hush-hush, too much stigma. I want to cause conversations to happen, so people realize that having a mental illness is just like having heart disease or any other health condition—it’s not anything to be ashamed of. The more we talk about it, the more people will get the help they need for loved ones or themselves” (Dickinson-Moravek, n.d.). Overall, good communication and treatment would strongly benefit any family that has a parent with bipolar disorder.

 

References

Amatenstein, S. (2019). I Have a Parent With Bipolar Disorder and It’s Ruining My Life. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/bipolar-disorder-parent

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Bipolar and Related Disorders.. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm03

Dickinson-Moravek, M. (n.d.) Growing Up With a Parent Experiencing Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Personal-Stories/Growing-Up-with-a-Parent-Experiencing-Bipolar-Diso

Duggal, N. (2018). Is Bipolar Disorder Hereditary? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/is-bipolar-disorder-hereditary

Gibbons-Gwynn, M. (2011). Parenting With Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-and-parenting.aspx

Khare, S.R. (2016). Bipolar Disorder: A Daughter’s Experience. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394376/

Pointer K. (2018). What Does It Mean To Have a Parent With Bipolar Disorder? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/how-to-deal-with-a-bipolar-parent

Purse, M. (2019). The Chances of Having Hereditary Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/will-my-child-inherit-my-bipolar-disorder-380477

Ulrich, L. (2016). Parenting With Bipolar. Retrieved from https://ibpf.org/blog/parenting-bipolar

When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder (2019). Retrieved from https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/guides-and-publications/when-a-parent-has-bipolar-disorder

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

Dating With Bipolar Disorder

When dating anyone it is important to see that person for who they are, not for their label. The drastic ups and downs of having bipolar disorder can make maintaining a relationship difficult. Perhaps the largest obstacle to conquer is the stigma surrounding the disorder. Although dating someone with bipolar disorder can be intimidating and difficult at times, it is important to consider the person for who they are, not their diagnosis. There is hope for those struggling with bipolar disorder to find love.

Twenty-eight year old mental health advocate Hannah Blum has openly discussed her struggle with dating as a woman with bipolar disorder. Her main issue with dating in the past was not the struggles of the disorder itself, but rather the stigma surrounding dating someone with bipolar disorder. Finding someone who is willing to look past her diagnosis can be wearisome. Hannah views her bipolar disorder as a way to eliminate anyone who wouldn’t make a potentially good partner. “Bipolar disorder does the dirty work for me and filters out individuals who tiptoe through life. The fact is, we all have issues, whether you live with bipolar disorder or not. And if someone won’t give you a chance because of a label, consider yourself lucky” (Blum, 2019). She looks at anyone who generalizes or makes assumptions about her based on the mere fact that she has bipolar disorder, as not worth her time anyway. Anyone who doesn’t want to be with someone based on a diagnosis, without truly getting to know them is not going to be a decent person to date anyway. As a result of her mindset, she recognizes the importance of disclosing the fact that she has bipolar disorder fairly early on in a relationship. However, she also recognizes the importance of allowing the person to get to know her a bit before sharing that fact about herself because everyone has assumptions. By waiting a bit to share that aspect of her identity, she is able to allow the person to get to know her before they know her diagnosis.

For those struggling with bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, having the support of a relationship can be helpful. Studies show the importance of being in a positive and healthy relationship for those with bipolar disorder. While generally being in a relationship does not alleviate the symptoms of the disorder, being in a healthy, mutual, quality relationship can help a person living with bipolar disorder (Dunne, 2019). As with any relationship, having a partner who is understanding and supportive is crucial. The concern around dating while having bipolar disorder is that the stress of a relationship will cause more harm than good. However, most of those close to people who have bipolar disorder agree that a relationship would be beneficial to them, even for people who struggle with severe bipolar disorder (Purse, 2019). The idea that those with mental illness are incapable of loving or maintaining a relationship is simply false.

Entering a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder can be a difficult and daunting situation. When entering any relationship it is important to understand different aspects of your partner. In order to have a successful relationship with someone that has bipolar disorder, it is crucial to understand the disorder itself, as it is a part of them. Although a partner who is not bipolar themselves cannot truly understand the extent of what it is like to be bipolar, they can try to sympathize with their partner. In order to do this, it is important for the partner to understand the effect bipolar disorder can have on someone. The extreme ups and downs of bipolar disorder can be difficult for someone on the outside to handle. Another important factor when considering dating someone who has bipolar disorder is self care. Being in any relationship can be difficult, but dating someone with a significant mental illness such as bipolar disorder can be extremely stressful and difficult. When dating someone with bipolar disorder, taking care of yourself needs to be a priority over taking care of your partner. Mary is married to a man with bipolar disorder. She recognizes that the positive attributes of her husband and her love for him far outweigh the struggles he has due to his bipolar disorder. She states that the social pressure and judgement that she faces from being in a relationship with an individual with this disorder far outweighs the struggles they have internally within their relationship. She advises to recognize the difference between the person and the disorder they are dealing with as “…the physical body is a slave to nerve endings and neurons and blood chemicals. The spirit, however, is completely separate” (J, 2018). All in all, a mental illness doesn’t make it impossible to date and should not stand in the way of a relationship because, when a healthy relationship is established, it can have a positive effect on the individual with bipolar disorder.

References

Blum, Hannah. (2019). Gaslighted By My Boyfriend: What Dating With Bipolar Disorder Really Feels Like. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/what-dating-with-bipolar-really-feels-like/

Dunne, L., Perich, T., & Meade, T. (2019). The relationship between social support and personal recovery in bipolar disorder. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 42(1), 100–103. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1037/prj0000319

J, M. The Love of My Life Has Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-love-of-my-life-has-bipolar-disorder/

Kumar, P., Sharma, N., Ghai, S., & Grover, S. (2019). Perception about marriage among caregivers of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 41(5), 440–447. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_18_19

Purse, M. (2019). Dating Someone With Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/love-roses-and-real-support-380584

Categories
Bipolar Disorder

Mixed Features: The Fight Between Emotions

Imagine being happy, yet sad at the same time. Overjoyed but devastated. Arrogant and insecure. Having a bipolar episode with mixed features is like simultaneously experiencing opposing emotions. Emma, a 20 year old with bipolar II, describes her bipolar episodes with mixed features as confusing. “‘How can you be manic and depressed at the same time? [It feels like] your brain isn’t equipped to handle that,”’(Andriakos, 2018). Bipolar disorder is often thought of as a cycling between episodes of mania and depression. Although periods of mania and depression are what determine bipolar disorder, they are not always experienced separately. For many people, the periods of mania or depression are not so clear-cut, there can be overlap. It can be hard to understand how two feelings that are complete opposites could potentially intersect and cause such distress, especially for the person experiencing it. 

Prior to 2013, bipolar episodes that had features of the opposing episode were referred to as a mixed episode. With the release of the DSM-V, the term “mixed episode” was replaced with a specifier of “mixed features.” The specifier is used to include the symptoms of the mixed features into the diagnosis of the episode. Before the change to the term mixed features, it was much more difficult to diagnose impure bipolar episodes. In addition, the change in terminology from mixed episode to mixed features allows more people to get an accurate and specific diagnosis. In order to diagnose a mixed episode, the entire criteria for both mania/hypomania and depression would need to be met. Although this happens for some people, in most cases only a few symptoms from the non-dominant emotion are expressed. In a bipolar episode with mixed features however, the criteria for the primary episode, manic or depressive, is met along with at least three symptoms of the opposing episode. Experiencing a bipolar episode with mixed features can be extremely challenging to understand and manage because the emotions are fighting with each other to be experienced and expressed. 

In a manic or hypomanic episode with mixed features, the full criteria for mania or hypomania are met. This includes elevated mood, irritability, and inflated self-esteem. In addition to manic symptoms there are symptoms of depression like depressed mood, disinterest, and feelings of hopelessness. Manic episodes with depressive features in particular can be extremely alarming and dangerous leaving individuals “feeling helpless and miserable and they have the energy to act on that” (Andriakos, 2018). In depressive episodes with mixed features, there is a similar protocol for diagnosis. The full criteria for a depressive episode must be met, with at least three features of mania or hypomania. The feelings of depression can be so intense, that hypomania can be a relieving break from intense depression. Joey describes his experience with mixed depressive episodes as “a relief.” While experiencing hypomania during a depressive episode, he is able to get a moment of clarity. 

Treating people who have bipolar episodes with mixed features is a complicated and difficult process. Up to 34% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience episodes with mixed features. Each of these people experience it differently, and require personalized treatment. Sometimes the feelings they are experiencing simultaneously can be direct opposites of one another. Other times, the opposing moods can happen back to back in rapid succession. Joey, who experiences bipolar episodes with mixed features, describes them as having one emotion driving the other in a chaotic and debilitating way. Gracie, who also experiences mixed episodes, describes them more like intense and confusing mood swings without much reason. The differences in individual experiences makes bipolar disorder with mixed features difficult to treat. Additionally, while one treatment may improve one portion of the symptoms, it may exacerbate other symptoms, making them worse. For example, taking a typical antidepressant (like a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor), can improve feelings of sadness and depression but make manic symptoms worse. Oftentimes more than one form of treatment is needed for people that experience bipolar episodes with mixed features, like a mood stabilizer in addition to an antidepressant. There is currently limited knowledge regarding bipolar episodes with mixed features, particularly surrounding why mixed features happen to some people and not others. This makes bipolar episodes with mixed features harder to treat and for people experiencing it to understand what is going on. 

In addition to having bipolar disorder, having episodes with mixed features is a challenging additional issue being faced by people with bipolar disorder. It can make things more confusing and complicated to understand. By improving awareness and knowledge of bipolar episodes with mixed features, there is hope for better experiences for those struggling with it. 

 

References 

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Bipolar and Related Disorders. in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Retrieved from https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm03#x38498.2610324

Andriakos, J. (2018). This Is What a Mixed Episode Feels Like. Retrieved from https://www.self.com/story/mixed-bipolar-episodes

Hu, J., Mansur, R., & McIntyre, M.S. (2014). Mixed Specifier for Bipolar Mania and Depression: Highlights of DSM-5Changes and Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment in Primary Care. The Primary Care Companion For CNS Disorders, Volume 16 (2). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4116292/

McIntyre, R.S., Soczynska J.K., Cha D.S., Woldeyohannes H.O., Dale R.S., Alsuwaidan M.T., . . . Kennedy S.H.. (2015) The prevalence and illness characteristics of DSM-5-defined “mixed feature specifier” in adults with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder: Results from the International Mood Disorders Collaborative Project. Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 172 Pages 259-264. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032714005801

Muneer, A.. (2017). Mixed States in Bipolar Disorder: Etiology, Pathogenesis and Treatment. Chonnam Medical Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5299125/