Treatment of Bipolar Disorder Begins With a Diagnosis

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Left untreated, bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic depression, can be an overwhelming, devastating major mental illness.  Characterized by intense high and low mood swings know as manic and depression phases, it often takes anywhere from five to ten or more years from the symptoms early stages to diagnose bipolar disorder correctly.  Even for trained, experienced professionals, bipolar disorder is often difficult to diagnoses, so if you are concerned about your mental health, instead of seeing your family doctor, have him or her refer you to a psychiatrist.

Many mental conditions and physical conditions have similar symptoms and can mimic bipolar disorder, which complicates the diagnosing and treatment of this disorder.  There is no blood work, x-rays or other clearly defined medical tests to diagnose bipolar disorder so doctors must first eliminate other health concerns to get an exact diagnosis.  Your doctor may conduct a physical exam and medical history, order blood work, x-rays and other lab tests to rule out other medications or illnesses.  Doctors will often talk to loved ones and friends about the patient’s behaviours and moods.  This helps the doctor get as much objective and accurate information as possible, often resulting in diagnosing and starting treatment of bipolar disorder.

Some physical conditions that have similar symptoms to bipolar disorder include sodium imbalance, acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS, head trauma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, lupus, vitamin B12 deficiency, Lyme disease and adrenal and thyroid disorders.  Thyroid disorders can mimic bipolar disorder as they often cause mood swings and extreme fatigue.  Doctors normally prescribe therapy and medications to patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder and may refer him or her to other healthcare professionals, such as a bipolar disorder specialist, psychologist, social worker or counsellor when developing a personalised bipolar disorder treatment plan.

With treatment of bipolar disorder, most patients with this condition receive significant ease from their symptoms but because this mental illness is recurrent, focus is on preventive care that is long-term.  A combined treatment of medication and psychotherapy may relieve current symptoms, address behavioural problems, and help prevent further mood episodes of depression or mania.  Continuous treatment is the best way to control bipolar disorder but even when the treatment is uninterrupted, a person can still have mood swings, so it is important to talk to your doctor immediately if this occurs.  It is important to maintain a good relationship and communicate openly with your doctor about the options and treatments available.

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1 Comment

  1. nlv
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I was diagnosed with BiPolar 1 about 18 months ago. Shortly after my diagnosis, and after I started taking several medications, my Psych Dr told me I had both vitamin B and vitamin d deficiencies. She also express surprise my levels were so low. I have switched medications and added and removed medications several times.

    As an aside – My husband and I had grown apart over the 20 years we’d been married, and I was sure he no longer loved me, and in fact,we had not had relations more that 3 – 4 times a year, for many years.

    My self-esteem was non-existant, and I was hurting. I felt as if I’d lost my best friend, and I lived with this pain for a long time. I loved him dearly, and he assured me he loved me. I believed him.

    It is important to say here, I had a gastric bypass in August 2003 after a diagnosis of PCOS, which left me unable contol hormone levels and resulted in severe hursitism, chronic low blood sugar,and weight gain, and syndrome X.

    7 months and 75 lbs lighter, I back to a normal me. My health improved, and I looked wonderful. However, my husband was still not interested in being intimate. I had begged his to consult our doctor several times, and his ego won out every time.

    I was sad a lot of the time. It felt alone, and sad much of the time.

    Back to the BiPolar 1.

    Shortly after I started the meds, I started to express my anger at my husband by threatening to find someone else if he did not try to get help for his impotency. I accused im of having someone else frequently, and was bound and determined to prove he had a girlfriend. I have obsessed, truly obsessed about this since shortly after starting the last set of meds. (Even after he DID get help for his impotency. We are now intimate once or twice a week.)

    I am suspicious all the time. I know I am driving his crazy, and it’s killing me. He has to tell me over and over it’s me he loves, and at the time, and shortly after, I believe his. Soon though, I am convinced he is: carpooling, having lunch, sex, or having an affair withe the girl next door. or other secret lover.

    I hate myself for being like this. I don’t think these meds are helping, but causing these obsessive thoughts.

    My prelude now leads to this; I have read that vitamin D and vitamin B deficiencies can mimic Bipolar 1 AND obsessive or psychotic thoughts. Does anyone have any experience with Trileptil, Clozepan, Seroquel, Verapamil (although I nixed the Verapamil a few months ago). I started taking 1000 mcg vitamin D and 1000 mg vitamin V, about 8 months ago, and am still very low. Also, I know that due to the gastric bypass I can’t absorb vitamins and minerals in the proper amounts, and am wondering if these deficiences might have lead to a premature diagnosis of BiPolar 1.

    Any input greatly appreciated.

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