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Unread 01-25-2014, 04:50 PM   #1
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Default How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

Anti-depressants have made me feel worse. My new therapist doesn't know me well enough to know for sure if I am bipolar or if my mood is only due to emotional problems. We know I have emotional problems (childhood abuse and adult PTSD), but bipolar is still suspected. There are several just in my immediate family with bipolar. I've experienced hypomania, racing thoughts, and mixed states, but never straightforward mania.

Have you ever found out if you had a bipolar depression after failed trials of various antidepressants and/or other treatments? How do you know if you have bipolar and emotional problems (like borderline/CTPSD traits) or just the emotional problems?

I've already read up on this enough already, and it seems like mood change frequency is the most distinguishable factor. Even then, it seems like the same medications are prescribed for emotional problems as they are for Bipolar.

I also posted about trying medications to try in the medication forum, I guess I'm asking for opinions and experiences here about bipolar vs. emotional problems. I could probably qualify for a Bipolar II diagnosis, but I'm only interested in experiences of those who were diagnosed with Bipolar I. When it's not so cut and dry, do you just try treatment for Bipolar, and if it helps significantly, get the additional diagnosis of bipolar?

Thank you for your feedback.
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Unread 01-25-2014, 05:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

it was explained to me that I have bipolar 1 instead of 2 because I have psychosis. but my t told me I present mostly as bipolar 2 because I am more prone to hypomanias more than anything else, but I have to have the other diagnosis because of the occasional psychosis and you don't have psychosis with bipolar 2. I also have ptsd. it is true the same meds work for a lot of different things. I was a rapid cycler so I always seemed to be either manic or depressed more than I had a stable mood. I knew it was just emotional because no matter what I did behaviorally to address it, nothing impacted or lessened it severity. no amount of coping skills changed what I was going through. once I got on the right medication....bingo...it was gone...take care
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Unread 01-25-2014, 05:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

It can be very difficult to tease out what is PTSD or borderline and what is bipolar. I have been dx'ed with all. From fourteen to 20, I was a mess. Hospitalizations, state hospital, residential treatment, alternative school. When I was 19 I received the dx of bipolar 2. I said that's not even possible as I was never happy, thus no hypomania. I felt It was definitely PTSD with borderline traits, because all my emotional anguish directly stemmed from childhood events. Eventually in 2006 I spent six months in a trauma treatment outpatient program and did some good work. It took me a couple more years but I finally was able to accept and forgive everything that had gone on. And I was great for six years. Sure, I would have a couple I months where if get depressed and wonder if the docs were all right about the BP, but it would always go away so I would never seek treatment.

My son was born three years ago and everything began deteriorating. But I still never believed I had BP because again, I never felt euphorically happy. At leat not that I recognized. Looking back I can see that yeah, maybe. Fast forward to a year ago when everything went crazy - depressions got deeper and more frequent, and hypomania progressed to full blown mania, and I finally sought treatment.

My point is I refused to believe BP until I had dealt with all my trauma in therapy. Once the distorted thinking and trauma reactions were no longer holding me back, and the BP symptoms became unmanageable, I had no choice but to try to accept the dx. You can absolutely have concurrent disorders. Therapy is your best chance at figuring out what is attributable to what.

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Unread 01-25-2014, 05:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between bipolar symptoms vs. emotionality. It's something that gets easier with time as you learn how to live with it and discover what's your disorder and what's you.

My experience has been that it's the bipolar when I get wound up and there's no specific trigger, although I have been thrown into mood episodes because of severe stress. My mood episodes also last for days or weeks, while an emotional reaction will usually last only hours to a couple of days. Also with bipolar swings, I notice a gradual change in my mood and energy levels over a period of a few days, while with emotions it's instantaneous.

Hope that's helpful. As to how one knows for sure whether or not they're bipolar, I don't know that there really IS a way to be 100% certain. A diagnosis is nothing more than an educated statement by a health professional that they believe you have a certain condition. For me, the easiest way is to look at my online mood chart and see the huge ups and downs over the course of the past two years. It looks like a wildly irregular EKG tracing.
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Unread 01-25-2014, 08:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

My husband went from dx went from depression w. Irritability to bp2 to bp1 w/o psychosis. Our old pdoc didn't believe me how bad things were with him. We unknowingly down played his symptoms so he was quickly was diagnosed bp1.
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Unread 01-25-2014, 08:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

It took 3 months in a psyc ward for me to get my diagnosis. Over the course of the next few years I was closely observed, and warning signs for both states were recorded. I have been hospitalised in both states, so the pdocs were able to keep a very close eye on me. I have been diagnosed Bipolar by at least 8 different pdocs. In my own research I have many of the symptoms, many of which I didnt know were symptoms!

I have no doubt I am bipolar, neither do my support networks, pdocs or many T's I have had over the years.

Now if this is caused by emotional troubles is another issue... there is no doubt about my diagnosis, and I did have a pretty normal childhood. But as the years have gone one after being diagnosed I have had some emotional issues, I feel these have exacerbated my symptoms. I feel that many of the emotional issues came after the onset of Bipolar. So far we have not gone into my childhood at all in 10 years of therapy. I have very distinct warning signs when a BP mood change is coming, and I am not a rapid cycler by any means, my support network can see it a mile off. There are rarely triggers for my mood changes.
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Unread 01-26-2014, 11:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaliope View Post
it was explained to me that I have bipolar 1 instead of 2 because I have psychosis. but my t told me I present mostly as bipolar 2 because I am more prone to hypomanias more than anything else, but I have to have the other diagnosis because of the occasional psychosis and you don't have psychosis with bipolar 2. I also have ptsd. it is true the same meds work for a lot of different things. I was a rapid cycler so I always seemed to be either manic or depressed more than I had a stable mood. I knew it was just emotional because no matter what I did behaviorally to address it, nothing impacted or lessened it severity. no amount of coping skills changed what I was going through. once I got on the right medication....bingo...it was gone...take care
What medication was it initially? I had PTSD too, and after checking into this more, PTSD and life events can trigger the bipolar disorder. The only problem I had was anxiety before I got PTSD, so the borderline doesn't fit enough to attribute symptoms to. I'm glad you finally better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildflowerchild25 View Post
It can be very difficult to tease out what is PTSD or borderline and what is bipolar. I have been dx'ed with all. From fourteen to 20, I was a mess. Hospitalizations, state hospital, residential treatment, alternative school. When I was 19 I received the dx of bipolar 2. I said that's not even possible as I was never happy, thus no hypomania. I felt It was definitely PTSD with borderline traits, because all my emotional anguish directly stemmed from childhood events. Eventually in 2006 I spent six months in a trauma treatment outpatient program and did some good work. It took me a couple more years but I finally was able to accept and forgive everything that had gone on. And I was great for six years. Sure, I would have a couple I months where if get depressed and wonder if the docs were all right about the BP, but it would always go away so I would never seek treatment.

My son was born three years ago and everything began deteriorating. But I still never believed I had BP because again, I never felt euphorically happy. At leat not that I recognized. Looking back I can see that yeah, maybe. Fast forward to a year ago when everything went crazy - depressions got deeper and more frequent, and hypomania progressed to full blown mania, and I finally sought treatment.

My point is I refused to believe BP until I had dealt with all my trauma in therapy. Once the distorted thinking and trauma reactions were no longer holding me back, and the BP symptoms became unmanageable, I had no choice but to try to accept the dx. You can absolutely have concurrent disorders. Therapy is your best chance at figuring out what is attributable to what.

You have come a long way! I agree about therapy. It's the reason why I'm now questioning my diagnosis and former treatment. The topics that come up each week are related to the bipolar symptoms. I have been saying it feels like I have brain damage, and my depression seems to be more of a result of fatigue, cognitive problems, and having no energy, which is effecting my job and social relationships, rather than emotional problems that come from life events or past trauma.Thanks for sharing all of that.
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Unread 01-26-2014, 11:31 AM   #8
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BipolaRNurse View Post
Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between bipolar symptoms vs. emotionality. It's something that gets easier with time as you learn how to live with it and discover what's your disorder and what's you.

My experience has been that it's the bipolar when I get wound up and there's no specific trigger, although I have been thrown into mood episodes because of severe stress. My mood episodes also last for days or weeks, while an emotional reaction will usually last only hours to a couple of days. Also with bipolar swings, I notice a gradual change in my mood and energy levels over a period of a few days, while with emotions it's instantaneous.

Hope that's helpful. As to how one knows for sure whether or not they're bipolar, I don't know that there really IS a way to be 100% certain. A diagnosis is nothing more than an educated statement by a health professional that they believe you have a certain condition. For me, the easiest way is to look at my online mood chart and see the huge ups and downs over the course of the past two years. It looks like a wildly irregular EKG tracing.
That's a good point-dx is an educated statement that is not 100% certain. Thanks for the advice. I'm going to google mood charts and see if I can get myself to use it consistently. After I posted this, and looking back, I really do think I have bipolar of some sort. And apparently I was not as well-read on this subject as I thought I was. I think I really glossed over the possibility of BP because of my experience with PTSD. Yes, over time, as my history grows, it is getting more obvious.

I found a really good article that helps with identifying differences with bipolar I, II, and borderline. It explains it thoroughly:

http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/ind...2661&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=178050


Evidence-Based Reviews

Borderline, bipolar, or both? Frame your diagnosis on the patient history

Careful attention to conceptual distinctions may reduce the risk of misdiagnosis

Vol. 9, No. 1 / January 2010
Jess G. Fiedorowicz, MD
Assistant professor, Department of psychiatry, University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA
Donald W. Black, MD
Professor, Department of psychiatry, University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA

Last edited by Anonymous32735; 01-26-2014 at 11:49 AM. Reason: trying to get link to work
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Unread 01-26-2014, 11:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Supanova View Post
In my own research I have many of the symptoms, many of which I didnt know were symptoms!

I have very distinct warning signs when a BP mood change is coming, and I am not a rapid cycler by any means, my support network can see it a mile off. There are rarely triggers for my mood changes.
Glad you have everything under control. Same here about not knowing things which were symptoms. Better late than never.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miguel'smom View Post
My husband went from dx went from depression w. Irritability to bp2 to bp1 w/o psychosis. Our old pdoc didn't believe me how bad things were with him. We unknowingly down played his symptoms so he was quickly was diagnosed bp1.
Not the first time I've heard that. There's so much bias when we give our own histories, isn't there?
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Unread 01-26-2014, 02:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: How do you know for sure if you are Bipolar?

I just know that when I was high I ran off to another country and stopped sleeping all together.
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