Do I Have Depression Or Am I Just Sad?

How many times have you heard a friend whine “I'm SO depressed” because something did not turn out exactly the way they had hoped? And how many of those times have they bounced back to normal by the end of the day?

Depressed is not something you can “be” for a couple hours after you get discouraging news.

As a society, we have yet to grasp the difference between depression and disappointment.

Depression is an illness, and it needs to be treated and regarded as that. But by constantly misusing the term, we belittle the effects the actual disorder can have on a life.

Although there is a horrible stigma associated with any mental health issue, depression is just as much of a sickness as diabetes or cancer. Just as a diabetic must take injections of insulin to stay healthy, people with depression need to take medication as well.

It's important to realize that in most cases, chronic depression is a result of chemical imbalances in the brain. Specifically, the neurotransmitters dealing with serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine – hormones which regulate emotions, the body's reaction to stress, and the drive for pleasure – are not working properly.

But how do you know when your sadness is a result of the chemical imbalance which causes diagnosable depression, and when it is a simple passing situation?

If a person experiences 5 or more of these symptoms for a period longer than 2 weeks, they may be clinically diagnosed with depression.

Is your sadness a result of a chemical imbalance in your brain?

Check yourself against the following symptoms of depression:

  • Have you experienced a sudden loss of energy?
  • Do you feel as though you have no control over your emotions?
  • Have you been sleeping significantly more than usual? Alternately, have you been experiencing the effects of insomnia?
  • Have you experienced sudden gain gain or loss?
  • Have you had any suicidal thoughts?
  • Do you have any aches or pains that you do not know the cause of?
  • Have you been feeling guilty all of a sudden?
  • Are you more nervous than usual?
  • Do you lack the ability to focus or concentrate on simple tasks?
  • Have you lost interest in things that used to excite you?
  • Are you easily irritated?

If you have been experiencing 5 or more of those symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor about the possibility of diagnosing and treating your depression.

Whether or not you answered yes to 5 of the above, it's important that you realize the prevalence of depression in society today. A surprising 10% of the population has a mood disorder – the most common of which is depression.

Depression is a devastating mood disorder that has the potential to ruin day after day of your life. If there was a solution to this gripping problem, would not you want to learn about it?

Instead of suffering with your mood disorder, it's time to learn how you can live with it.

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How to Treat Bipolar Effectively and in the Proper Way

Bipolar disorder is able to seriously disrupted a person's life. This is why treatment is so important, especially if you want to live a normal life. Otherwise you will find every area of ​​your life being affected.

Treating Bipolar Disorder With Medication

Fortunately, there are several different types of medications available to treat bipolar disorder. They are mood stabilizers, anti-seizure, and antidepressants. This is good because whenever one does not help, you can either have the dose adjusted or try something else. Of course, you will also find that medications and treatment will vary from person to person.

The most commonly used medication is a mood stabilizer. This medication will help to stabilize and regulate your mood so that you will not experience bipolar episodes that range from mania to depression. Anti-seizure medications are also used to prevent mood swings in someone who has bipolar disorder. They are most commonly prescribed to those who have Bipolar II or another type of bipolar disorder that is rapid-cycling.

While antidepressants are sometimes prescribed as well, they are not all that effective whenever it comes to treating bipolar disorder. In the past it was more commonly prescribed than it is today. In fact, they are actually controversial now as some doctors feel that they may actually trigger manic episodes.

Some anti-psychotic medications may also be beneficial. This is especially true of Quetiapine, which is more commonly known as Seroquel. It is known to treat both manic and depressive episodes, so the FDA has approved it for this very purposed.

Keep in mind that regardless of which medication is used there are going to be some side effects. This is why it is important to provide your doctor with a complete list of all of the medications that you are taking, as well as any preexisting conditions that you may have. Also, females who want to become pregnant should share this information with their doctor so that any risks to the unborn baby can be minimized.

Treating Bipolar Disorder With Therapy

Therapy should also be used in conjunction with medication. There are several types of therapy including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches how to manage stress and triggers by replacing them with positive, healthy behavior.
  • Family therapy will reduce triggers within the family by improving communication therein.
  • Group therapy will allow you to listen to others who are also suffering from bipolar disorder.

In conclusion to treating someone with bipolar, you should remember this. There is no one treatment that will work for everyone!

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An Introduction to Treating Panic Naturally

Although the most popular forms of treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder are the psychological methods, they often involve the use of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety pills as an aid to the treatment. Patients who are uncomfortable taking medication or are uncomfortable with the method itself often take much longer to recover should they recover at all. (It is difficult to recover from any problem without the patient's full participation.) Because of issues like these and the growing trend of living a more natural lifestyle, many patients have tried treating panic naturally.

Natural methods for treating panic disorder have their roots in alternative treatments or therapy. These methods are often holistic and involve only natural medicine. Some treatments bear similarities to psychological methods, which make them noteworthy because psychologists may be able to use them in order to help and treat their patients.

The most similar to psychological methods are biofeedback and neuro-biofeedback. These methods are similar to CBT, aiming to help patients understand their body and control the attack. During a biofeedback session, a patient is hooked up to machines that give them feedback on how the body is doing. This helps the patient see how their body reacts when a panic attack is about to hit. By knowing and being able to spot the very first small signs, patients can control the panic attack, preventing it from happening. Neuro-biofeedback works the same way, except that the focus is on the brain and controlling brain activity through thoughts. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis are two more treatments that stem from psychology. The coaxing or training of the brain to stop panicking, or training the person to control their panic attack by establishing a hypnotic trigger finds its roots in learned behavior and classical conditioning.

Other popular methods of treating panic naturally, which are less related to psychological methods than those mentioned above, include mediation, aromatherapy, and herbal therapy. Most of these therapies involve learning to relax the mind or creating soothing environments for the body so that anxiety is less felt. For example, herbal treatments often involve drinking or eating certain herbs. For treating panic naturally, borage juice and chamomile tea are often recommended because of its soothing or calming effects on the body. (Keep in mind that it is always best to consult a herbalist before trying any herbal treatments.) Aromatherapy is similar to herbal therapy, except that it uses scents to help soothe and relax, and in some cases to stop an oncoming panic attack in its tracks. Often, the most effective scents are specific to the person and their history.

Treating panic naturally through meditation is another popular option among those who seek alternative treatments. When using it as a method of treatment, the patient needs to be well trained (it is best to attend a class for the first few sessions) and then to practice everyday. Mindfulness is one specific kind of meditation which really helps patients take control of their panic disorder. It is also known as meditation in action, training the person to be very aware of their surroundings, feelings and thought processes so that they can quickly address any situation that may lead to an attack.

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The Dramatic Personality Type

The Greek doctors of the fourth century BC recognized symptoms described in the past as Hysteria. It is assumed that the term was coined by the Greek physician Hippocrates from Hystera which is a Greek word meaning womb. Symptoms of hysteria were thought to be due to wandering of the womb in the body of women. Most theories about hysteria identified this as a condition seen only in women though this is not always true.

The dramatic personality type is a separate character type which is distinct from Hysteria as an illness, a term which is now obsolete. Remnant of the term is still included in psychiatric formal classifications DSM-IV and ICD-10 as the Histrionic Personality Disorder.

The main characteristic of this personality type is that the individual is dramatic in her emotions, her actions and her thoughts about herself and about life. The emotions are excessive and displayed in an exaggerated manner. Excessive uncontrolled tears and anger, too much happiness or sadness and overt seductiveness are often seen. Emotions are rapidly shifting although they are beneficial and not lying.

The dramatic person likes to be the center of attention and she is usually dressed and talks in a seductive and attractive way. Such persons are usually sociable and skilful in giving a good impression at first meeting. When they are involved in an intimate relationship, they romanticise or sexualise things more than they really are. In their relationships they alternate between idealization and devaluation of people they are close to and their romantic attachment does not stand the test of time.

The dramatic or Histrionic person does not see life situations realistically. They dramatise and exaggerate their difficulties and blame others for their failures and suffering. They see themselves as victims of the misdeeds and evil intent of others. They are sensitive to the slightest sign of criticism or refusal and react angrily to an unintentional negative remark or ignoring their presence.

With a Histrionic personality, the individual is easily bored and seeks excitement and novelty. This make her or him successful in making social relationships quite easily. Such relationships start quit strong and intimate then they flatter with the passage of time or end in some dramatic way. Because of the low-level of tolerance of frustration, histrionic persons do not keep one job for a long time and they move from one career or employer to another repeatedly.

The search for excitation may make some people with Histrionic personality choose a career in drama, media or modeling. They tend to take risks or put themselves in risky and dangerous situations due to rushing into uncalculated decision without regard to the consequences.

The Histrionic dramatic person is a proud person who does not accept change easily in her or his behavior. They are skilful in manipulating others emotionally and they may use somatic and physical symptoms as means of further manipulation to make others feel sympathy, guilt or helplessness in the face of their desires. They seek treatment for many physical illnesses which have no organic basis.

The Histrionic person does suffer from anxiety, depression and other psychological and physical symptoms, however, these symptoms are usually due to the excessive and exaggerated emotions and are usually beneficial and transient. Such persons may even threaten suicide or make an attempt which usually fails as it is not a genuine wish to die. Sometimes, the attempts at self-harm may be miscalculated and lead to unexpected harm.

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Relaxation Techniques For Social Disorder And Anxiety

The most common symptoms of a social disorder are trepidation and nervousness. It is imperative that we learn the depth of this disorder, but more importantly, the aim should be to figure out just how to support you through it. In our effort to offer you the help you need, we give you some relaxation techniques for anxiety.

Firstly, there is the Jacobson's Progressive Relaxation (PMR) technique. It was developed in the early part of the 1920s by Edmund Jacobson, a physician from the United States. The main principle of this technique speaks to the fact that muscle tension usually go along with anxiety. As such, once you have learned how to relax your muscles, you will automatically diminish your anxiety. With this technique, you are in a stress-free setting where you engage in deep meditation. You are psychologically concentrating on separate muscles, body parts or muscle groups and methodically trying to relax each of them one at a time. Aptly named body scanning, this technique effectively helps to relax your muscles either before or after somatic exercises. This is usually done in five to ten minutes, beginning with one time a day, and then doing it as is necessary. You can tape the instructions to help you along.

There is also Autogenic Training; which was created by Johannes Schultz, the psychiatrist from out of Germany. A little more complex than PMR, but has the same basic mechanisms. There are 6 regular exercises using optical imagery. These exercises leave your body in a calm, warm, heavy mode. The aim is to be aware of one's body and use visual imagery to get you into a relaxed state of being. This particular technique takes anywhere from 4 to 6 months to be able to perfectly execute. It should be done in 5 to 10 minute stints numerous times a day. This may call for instructions from a trained therapist, but can be done via taped directives.

Another such technique is the Applied Relaxation technique. This is done by combining methods of stress management that has its emphasis on the identification of the symptoms of anxiety and being taught how to get rid of them. Developed by Lars-Goran Ost; it helps learn how to relax in a progressively faster way by applying the relaxation techniques while engaging in your day-to-day activities. When the training is coming to its end, the patient is progressively exposed to the anxiety-producing stimuli in an effort to practice the applied aspect of the technique. Important to this particular technique is, among others, self-observation, progressive relaxation and application training. Unlike the other techniques where you have an option to do it on your own or under the instructions of a trained therapist; This one is done strictly under the therapist's guidelines for quite a few months and may require twelve sessions or more.

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Freedom From Social Anxiety – Free Yourself From Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is one form of anxiety disorder that affects millions of people. Social phobia or social anxiety disorder is an extreme fear of being watched or judged by others. This is different from just being shy because people with social phobia are afraid of doing common things when there are people around them. They become nervous or consumed by extreme fear even on doing simple tasks like eating or writing in front of other people. It is normal to get nervous when giving a speech in front of other people but people with social phobia worry about it days or weeks before it actually happened. Living with this kind of fear can decrease the quality of their lives and it is important to find ways on how to freedom from social anxiety.

Although most sufferers know that their fears have no rational basis, they can not control their fear and they usually end up avoiding social situations. The avoidance can be very disabling and can keep them from doing common daily tasks and from enjoying the company of their family and friends. Knowing how to achieve freedom from social anxiety can greatly improve the quality of their lives. People with social anxiety disorder have the following symptoms:

  • can not act normally in front of other people and are very self-conscious
  • avoid places where there are other people
  • worry for days or weeks before a scared social event
  • very anxious and afraid to be with other people
  • blush, sweat terribly, trembling, nausea and unable to talk when they are with other people
  • meeting new people and making friends are difficult for them to accomplish

Humans are social animals and we need to interact with people around us to have a fulfilling and happy life. Having social phobia is a hindrance in creating a good quality life. Fortunately, it is a treatable disorder and there is help available to regardless freedom from social anxiety.

Of course it is best to seek professional help. Doctors specialized on mental health who have the necessary trainings and experience can help you social social phobia. You doctor may recommend medicines like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines and beta blockers. It is important to take medicines under the supervision of your health care provider because stopping medications or increasing its dosage without your doctor's consent can be very harmful to your overall health.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is one treatment that can help sufferers deal with anxiety disorder. CBT is a good treatment method for anxiety because it will teach you how to change your negative thinking pattern which is one of the main causes of anxiety attacks. Sufferers can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy in the long-term because they will eventually learn and master the techniques needed to manage their thoughts and emotions. This method is cost effective and free from any side effects caused by medications.

With proper treatment many people with social phobia can lead a normal quality life. It is important to find the best treatment that will work for you.

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Knowing Anxiety Disorder – Understanding Anxiety Problems

It is normal to be anxious but there are cases that anxiety can be very disabling and can prevent you from doing activities that you normally do. When you are experiencing anxiety to the point that you find it hard to function normally on your everyday life, you might be suffering from anxiety disorder. It is important to know that anxiety disorder is a treatable condition. Understanding and knowing anxiety disorder is important to know what you are dealing with.

There are different types of anxiety disorder:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with generalized anxiety disorder are chronic worrier. They have constant and exaggerated worries about common everyday things like health, family, work and money even though there is little or nothing to worry about. On different cases, their worries are so intense that they find it hard to relax, concentrate and accomplish even the simplest daily tasks.

Panic disorder. This is a mysterious terror or panic even if there is no real danger. The extreme fear suddenly occurs from out of the blue and it is usually accompanied by disabling symptoms like trembling, sweating, chest pain, pounding heartbeat, dizziness and feeling of going crazy or losing control. Sufferers may think that they are having a heart attack. Panic attacks may occur anytime without warning and sufferers can not predict when the next attack will happen. Thinking and worrying about the next episodes of attacks make them more anxious and worried.

Social anxiety disorder. This is a condition where a person is overly self-conscious in social situations. Sufferers have extreme fear of doing common things in front of other people. They are afraid of being judged and watched. We normally get shy in front of other people but people with social anxiety disorder worry about facing feared social situations for weeks before they happen. This condition can be very disabling. Sometimes they end up staying at home to avoid social situations that might embarrass them. This condition can keep them from enjoying the company of their family and friends.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with OCD are controlled by obsessive thoughts that trigger their anxiety. To control their anxiety, they usually perform obsessive habits or rituals. For instance, if they have obsessive thoughts about burglars, they will repeatly check their windows and door locks many times before going to bed. Because of their obsessive thoughts, they repeatedly check things, count things, clean things, etc. and they keep doing these rituals even though they are interfering with their daily lives.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A person may develop PTSD after a traumatic experience. Sufferers are disturbed and anxious about traumatic accidents that occurred months or years ago. It may be death in the family, divorce, brutal experiences like physical or sexual abuse and natural disasters like earthquakes. People with PTSD tend to withdraw or lose interest on things that they used to enjoy, become cold or less affectionate and irritable. They are having flashbacks, a condition where they believe that the traumatic incident is happening all over again.

Specific phobia. This is an irrational fear on specific things like blood, spiders, elevators, being in an enclosed area, driving, etc. Facing the feared object or situation causes anxiety attacks on sufferers. They tend to avoid facing the feared object to the point that the avoidance interferes with their daily lives.

Understanding and knowing anxiety disorder is important if you want to get your life back and free yourself from the disabling symptoms of anxiety disorder. Knowing what you are dealing with is the first step in seeking treatment.

Aside from understanding and knowing anxiety disorder, you should know that anxiety disorder in whatever form is a treatable condition. It is important to find a treatment that will work for you. Of course it is best to seek professional help to know the best treatment that will work for you.

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Bipolar Disorder – Pets Can Be Good for Your Mental Health

Many people who suffer with bipolar disorder have seen the advantages of sharing their life with their pets. At times when they have been discouraged and the idea of ​​talking or relating with another human being seemed like such a difficult challenge, the unconditional love and companionship of their pet has been a great comfort.

And while this in itself is a great benefit for animal lovers who suffer with bipolar disorder, there is still another great aspect of having a beloved pet in their life. During these lows of depression when a person with bipolar disorder has had thoughts of giving up, many times it has actually been their pet who has provided them the desire to continue on and work through the tough situation until they are ready ready for some human interaction .

So what if you do not have pets and can not get one right at this time? A solution may be to research your local animal shelter or humane society and learn about becoming a volunteer. These places are hurting for good volunteers and would really appreciate your help. This would be a win / win situation. You could get some time with some of the animals, and maybe even find one you are compatible with and adopt it. And the shelter or humane society gets some much needed volunteer work.

With either a pet you already own or a new pet you have adopted, there are many things that need to be done to make sure that the animal is well taken care. Things like making sure they have food and are fed daily, litter boxes clean clean and full of new litter, combing or brushing your pet. You get the picture. This is a great way to keep your mind off of your depression and focused on meeting the needs of your pet. Not I'm not saying that your feelings should be ignored, not at all. I'm just saying that sometimes the feeling of “being needed” by another living thing can be therapeutic.

If you do decide to do some volunteer work at one of the pet related places mentioned earlier, you will undecidedly meet new people. People with the same interests as you …. animals! Most animal lovers are usually pretty good people. And this would open the way for you to not only meet new people but you'd be helping out a great cause. This could be all it takes for someone who might be depressed or shy to slowly edge into building friendships and beginning interacting with others again.

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Bipolar Disorder – The Truth About Bipolar Triggers Part One

TRIGGERS

What is a bipolar trigger? Triggers are situations, events, people, or behaviors that spark bipolar symptoms, which lead to episodes. We now have to learn to help our wives treat the triggers, not just the symptoms. We could treat the symptoms forever and it would continue to be a giant roller coaster. We must find out what is triggering the symptoms and put the fire out before they turn into symptoms. Once your wife and you learn to discover what your wife's triggers are, we can then reduce and even eliminate these triggers. By reducing and eliminating triggers we drastically reduce the depth and or consistency of bipolar episodes.

First thing that we must do to help our wives is help them discover and figure out what is the source? What types of situations, events, people, or behaviors are causing them to start having bipolar symptoms? Are there any common themes in certain situations, events, people, or behaviors? Very often it is a common situation, or person, or group of people can cause the symptoms to arise? We are so busy helping our wives put out the flames of the symptoms and behaviors that we forget to look deeper into the cause of the change in moods.

Symptoms are like a vehicle and triggers are like your gas.

Your wife reacts to certain situations and actions with symptoms, because of bipolar disorder. So for a very long time your wife has been treated probably with therapy and mood stabilizing drugs (This is a very important part of stabilizing your wife) but once she has become stable it is vital that you both dig deeper and find out what is making the vehicle drive. Triggers are the gas, and a vehicle can not drive very far or at all for that matter if there is no gas in the car. When we look at bipolar in this way we can quickly see that we do need to treat symptoms and triggers simultanously to really get the most out of preventing bipolar disorder to take control of your wife. Outside of medication, this is a very important technique that we must take into action for helping our wives. This technique can be accomplished rather easily anywhere and at anytime.

I would like for you to make a list of triggers, if your wife is capable of partaking in this activity with you that would be very beneficial. You both should be able to come up with a list of triggers almost effortlessly if you've been dealing with this for some time now, I imagine you know at least a couple of potential triggers that can set your wife into the symptoms category. I will give you a quick list of some of my wife's triggers so that you can get the idea of ​​what I'm talking about. I made this list about 6 months ago, the list has been added to quite a bit, and some things have been removed as well.

COMMON TRIGGERS FOR MY WIFE

  • Arguments (this is a top trigger for my wife)
  • Routine changes
  • Stress related with a toddler
  • Caffeine use
  • Shopping
  • Social events
  • Poor diet (consuming too much sugar, another wife biggie)
  • Alcohol use (another popular trigger for my wife)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep
  • Listening to negative internal dialogue (research shows people with bipolar disorder are very susceptible to this trigger, often without being conscious of it)
  • Everyday tasks
  • Housework
  • Feeling overly committed
  • Feeling bored / stir crazy

That is a good portion of my wife's trigger list that we created together. Like I said some things have been removed and some have been added over time, that's OK though. It's good to have the list handy and available for review at any time.

It is extremely important that we give ourselves and our wives slack during difficult times associated with bipolar disorder. Because of your wife's bipolar disorder she may have a very small allowance for meeting demands, and once that cup overflows she shuts down and triggers create her bipolar symptoms. We must remember that it does not mean that you are strong and your wife is weak because of bipolar disorder, it simply means that your wife's brain chemistry is wired much differently. This can cause confusion in partners at times, certain situations, events, people; all are experienced in a different way than you. Usually your wife can not handle everyday stress in the same way as you or I would. It can be very challenging to accept this at times, and realize that they are beautiful for thinking so differently. It is very common trait in bipolar disorder for people (especially women) to be very sensitive during stressful situations.

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Ways You Can Support a Friend Dealing With Bipolar Disorder

I suffer from bi-polar disorder. Through my recovery, I received support from both friends and family. Some of the support I received helped and some did not. I researched bi-polar depression intensively during and after my recovery and noted similarities and differences in what I wanted as support and what I found others with bi-polar disorder wanted. However despite the differences the basic components were similar, the differences arose simply out of personal need.

You can support someone with bi-polar disorder by:

Learn about the disease.

Start by learning the symptoms, treatments and problems facing your friend. Your friend has many hurdles to overcome. Recovery from bi-polar depression is difficult. However, with knowledge of the illness you can help speed your friends recovery, help your friend stabilize her moods, and help her resolve any problems created by destructive behaviors.

After my first episode, I felt alone and overwhelmed with guilt. Mostly because of the destructive behaviors that go with bi-polar. I really feel that I would have recovered sooner had someone understood, told me it was not my fault and that I was not alone. But no one understood, including me. The medication stabilized my moods, but I never really felt happy, or fully recovered until I understood my illness and I had someone else in my life that accepted and understood what I had gone through.

Listen

Listen to your friend. Listen, show empathy and do not judge. Look for ways to encourage as you listen. Look for signs of relapse, ways to help and show you care.

Track Progress

Your friend may not even be aware when symptoms return. Watch her behavior, check her progress and develop a plan for when a crisis occurs. The plan should have your friend's approval. Know what to do if she becomes manic or depressed. Remember do not judge.

Learn How to Talk

Say things like “I care,” “I'm here for you,” “I may not understand your pain, but I can offer my support,” “your brain is lying to you right now … that is part of the illness, “” do not give up “” you can do this. ” Words of encouragement help. Research shows that those that have support experience fewer symptoms, recover faster and have fewer relapses.

Above all, do not tell your friend to “snap out of it” or judge their destructive behaviors as weakness. It took me many years to understand that I would not just wake up one day and I would be better. You just can not snap out of it. Don 't tell your friend this.During my recovery I had friends and family around that felt this is what I should do, snap out of it. I believe their ignorance about my illness led to two relapses and it was not until I accepted that it would be a long, hard process to recovery. I would have to work at it daily. Not only did I have to do these things, but I needed someone to give me affirmation.

Accept you friends limits

Accept and understand the limitations of bi-polar depression. Do not push your friend into doing things that do not feel like doing.

Remember, your friend has an illness. It is a chemical imbalance of the brain. There are ways that you can support your friend as she recovers from her illness. Understanding, acceptance, patience and empathy are key to your friends recovery.

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Bipolar Triggers – Part Two

It is very important for your wife to realize that triggers are the seed that creates bipolar symptoms. If we stop fueling the car (triggers), we can not drive (symptoms). Most of the medical help is given to help treat the symptoms, because that is usually the most dangerous part of bipolar episodes when they are unstable. We must help our wives make a trigger list, and become consciously aware of their common, high triggers. It is not uncommon for a small trigger to get set into motion and not manifest into symptoms for days or weeks. In fact it is extremely common for bipolar patients to hit a very small trigger, let's bad traffic (small trigger), that then leads into them being late for work (medium trigger). Where people without bipolar could usually shake this off and carry on through our day without a second thought. Someone with bipolar disorder might get so stressed about the traffic that caused them to be late, that they feel like they are having a panic attack (large trigger). These triggers very often have snowball effects and can happen almost daily without consciously used to realize triggers and use techniques to help level them out again, along with their medications and therapy.

Information about your wife's triggers

We have already discussed how Triggers can generally snowball from small to larger triggers, but here are some other facts about your wife's triggers that are common with all triggers in relations to bipolar. There are always going to be large triggers and small triggers. Some of the triggers are going to be a recipe for disaster time and time again; sometimes you will be able to predict it before you even see it. This can be extremely challenging especially if your wife has not yet recognized the trigger. (I can think of a family member that creates a disastrous trigger for my wife every time we all get together, fortunately my wife has realized this person as a trigger and has coping mechanisms that she now uses to help get through the situation. gotten so in touch with her triggers that we have even politely excused ourselves from the family function before, knowing that she was pushing her trigger too much and that if she were not to leave more likely than not symptoms of bipolar disorder would appear). My wife has had to work at this very hard, do not be discouraged if your wife still does not even consciously catch herself before the triggers appear. This does take time and discipline, but I guarantee this will get easier the more aware you and your wife can become.

If your wife is too ill to work on her triggers, keep working the symptoms until she has become stable, but you can observe and create your own lists of things, but I would recommend not sharing the list or trying to do any deep examination while your wife is unstable.

Triggers can and will change. I mentioned above in my wife's trigger list, that over six months triggers have been both added and dropped from the list. This is very normal, there will always be triggers that are very common and hold solid themes, but some might disappear as different times in life are coming and going. It is good to have an understanding that sometimes we will have to re-evaluate our list for our wives, and help them discover new triggers to add to the list, if you have seen a change in your wife's behavior that has become more frequent, due to something that is new or different in her life. Make sure to let your wife know that creating these trigger lists are not to point out things that make her do something wrong, these are simply lists that can help us get clear and focused on what specific situation is specifically provoking bipolar disorder in your wife.

Triggers vs. Triggers

I wish that I could sit here and explain to you that trigger A is a larger trigger than trigger B. It simply is not the case. Bipolar disorder triggers are common in all bipolar patients, but different triggers create stronger or weaker bipolar symptoms to occur. Being stuck in traffic might be your wife's biggest trigger for stress, where we would think something like losing a job, would be much more stressful. Simply when dealing with bipolar disorder you will discover what kinds of triggers are the worst, and which are easier to bypass for your wife.

Food Drinks and drugs are three of the strongest triggers associated with bipolar disorder. Alcohol is a drink trigger that is usually associated with more consumption when your wife is depressed or consuming a lot of caffeine when nervous and anxious usually will lead to more anxiety. It is very often hard for our wives to realize what we sometimes would consider common sense. One of my wife's big triggers is lack of energy, then she will tell me that she's had very little to eat all day, and not consumed any water, then she wonders why she feels tired sluggish and 'out of it'. I use to get very upset, now I have learned to realize that she does not think with that kind of logic all the time, that is something that she has to work on daily are common things that we must do to not let little triggers take over.

It is impossible for your wife and yourself to find all triggers, and all solutions to them, it is important to make a list of the 'BIG' triggers. The big triggers are what or will has set your wife into episodes in the past. Episodes that are big enough to where they could not sleep, work, turned to drugs, alcohol, and so on. These are the triggers that we want to come up with first, once we have a list of these triggers we then must sit down as a couple and come up with action plans. I know this sounds a little bit tedious and over redundant but this exercise could have the difference between a struggling wife for a few days that might need an extra therapy session that week, and checking your wife into a mental health treatment facility.

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How to Stop Panic Attacks and Anxiety Without Medication

There's a great deal of interest in how to stop panic attacks and anxiety without medication nowdays. In the main, sufferers just do not want to be dependent on mind-numbing drugs such as antidepressants and tranquilizers for long periods of their lives. They would much prefer to handle things totally naturally. Here you'll learn of one such natural approach to eliminating your anxiety and panic attacks …

FOREWORD ON STOPPING PANIC ATTACKS AND ANXIETY WITHOUT MEDICATION

When considering how to stop panic attacks and anxiety without medication, there are some important things you should bear in mind …

(1). The first thing is that we are not dealing with a mental condition, rather we're dealing with a behavioral one. You are not going mad. And, because it's behavioral, it can be corrected with the proper guidance and information.

(2). Another consideration is that an attack can not cause you any harm, you are perfectly safe. You may feel as though you are about to, but you will not die. Your body is quite capable of handling the terrifying symptoms of an attack. In fact, it's your body's fight or flight response that triggers your attacks in the first place!

(3). Although you may think you lack courage, you certainly do not. Remember that, on a daily basis, you face a range of challenges that the average person very rarely has to.

(4). Because of point (1) above, you do not have to worry about being stuck with your anxiety problem for the rest of your life. It can be cured, with the correct approach.

These are very important points to understand because they are all positive ones and so form a solid starting point for your cure.

MAINSTREAM TREATMENT FOR PANIC ATTACKS AND ANXIETY

You have no doubt visited your doctor and been diagnosed with general anxiety and panic attacks. And, as in most cases, you've been prescribed drugs, usually antidepressants, tranquilizers and even beta blockers. You may also have been referred to a therapist.

The problem here is that none of these address a fundamental aspect of your ongoing problem, and that is that they do not address your fear of having another panic attack.

FEAR OF PANIC ATTACKS AND YOUR ANXIETY CYCLE

You see, your unconscious or conscious fear of your next attack can actually trigger such an attack. But where does this fear come from? It's so simple really. The experience of your first attack was so terrifying that you live (consciously or subconsciously) in dread of another. This is understandable. The problem is that as long as this persists it only adds to your already high anxiety levels.

So the key is to break out of this cycle of anxiety by getting rid of your fear of another panic attack. If you can do this then you are able to address your under general general anxiety much more effectively and so eliminate it. But if mainstream treatment can not do this effectively what other options are there?

HOW TO STOP PANIC ATTACKS AND ANXIETY WITHOUT MEDICATION

One serious option is to get rid of your fear of panic attacks by taking a counter-intuitive approach. By that I mean, instead of running away or hiding from your next panic attack, ie never putting yourself in a position where one might occur, you actually tackle your fear head-on. For example, try to make yourself have an attack right this second. I know that, try as hard as you might, you can not. You've faced up to it. You met the challenge head on.

And so the next time you feel an attack about to come on, recognize it for what it is. You now know what causes it. Know that it can not harm you and will end shortly. Even repeat to yourself that you know what it is and that you are not in danger. And focus outwards on things around you, not inwards on your symptoms. I've actually, in my head, told an attack when it began to 'do its worst.' In other words meet the attack head on and wrestle back control.

There is no doubt that you can eliminate panic attacks and anxiety using totally natural techniques. And by now understanding that these attacks can not cause harm and that your fear of them is what is actually holding you back, you are better positioned to go on and get your freedom back. So, no more fear of going out because of the fear of an attack, no more putting off holiday plans or business travel, no more fear of getting stuck in traffic or on trains, etc., and no more living a very trapped existence

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Am I Bipolar?

Is this a question you have been asking yourself? It must be or you would not be here. Right? Maybe you took a bipolar test online, and the results have you wondering. Maybe you have just learned about some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder and you are thinking that “this could be me” Maybe you have been labeled as “bipolar” by someone other than a professional and it has you wondering. Or maybe you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder by a psychiatrist or another expert in this field.

Sometimes we find ourselves identifying with one of the many famous people we hear about who have bipolar disorder and this once again has us asking ourselves “am I bipolar”? If you are seeing a professional and have been given another diagnosis such as borderline personality disorder or any one of the other psychiatric disorders and you find that your medication is not working, this may also have you asking yourself, “am I bipolar.”

Whatever the reason you are asking yourself this question, you obviously want answers and that is the best place to be. People who are in denial and do not want to know the truth are the ones who suffer needlessly. Consider yourself ahead of the crowd, because you are making your mental health a priority. If you have for instance taken an online bipolar check test, it is just that, a checklist. It is just a guideline.

At this point you need to start a journal and record the symptoms you have noticed and that match the symptoms available online. This is a list you need to take with you when you speak to a professional, a skilled clinician who has plenty of experience with these disorders. You want the best help you can find. An expert who has spent time treating other clients with these disorders and who can help you sift through all of the feelings and symptoms you have noticed. But being honest with the professional is essential.

If possible take along another person who knows you, and who has spent a lot of time with you who might be helpful both in helping you remember things about you or your history and also who can be an extra set of ears when the Dr. Egypt therapist provides answers or suggestions to you. I know from experience that anytime a person goes to a Dr. or another important appointment, when you get home and attempt to relay the information that was shared with you, it is sometimes hard to remember all that you were told.

This is where it is helpful to have another set of ears that can help you sort the information out once your appointment is over. In order to have a reliable diagnosis, you must share a number of things which include your feelings, your thoughts and any bipolar behavior you have experienced. This helps to avoid misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis sometimes occurs because bipolar behavior can also resemble other mental health disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, ADHD bipolar disorder connection or bipolar depression symptoms.

One final thought on the question “am I bipolar”? Always remember that it is your mental health at stake here, you must do due diligence and educate yourself as much as possible. No one cares about your health more than you.

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My Wife Is Bipolar

When do you say to yourself “my wife is bipolar” what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Possibly this is nothing new, possibly your wife was diagnosed years ago. Maybe your wife was diagnosed just last week, or even earlier today. So what are the thoughts that go through your head? Are you angry, scared, frustrated, sad, relieved, or possibly a mix of these emotions and a thousand others? Sometimes it is a lot to swallow, being the husband of a bipolar wife. Bipolar disorder is so complex and has so many levels. If you have known about your wife's illness for a while I'm sure you are very aware of what a roller coaster Bipolar disorder can be, not just for her, but for everyone involved. If you have just received the news that your wife is Bipolar this can be a very scary time as well. We will visit both Husbands looking for new coping mechanism and Husbands that are new to the diagnosis and seeking help.

We are going to learn about Bipolar disorder, and then take active participation in coping skills for yourself, to help YOU. When your wife, best friend, lover, mother … the list goes on and on is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she no longer is the only person who needs help.

The First step is to learn about your wife's disorder. I am going to briefly explain a few different types of Bipolar disorder and there common exercises. I am going to review these as a refresher for husbands who have already studied the disorder of their wife, and as a great introduction to the disorder itself for the husbands that are new to the disorder. I am not going to go into great detail about bipolar disorder there is tons and tons of information regarding bipolar disorder if you would like to research it more. I am here to show YOU coping and hiring strategies to help YOU the husband.

First and foremost I strongly hope that your wife has been diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist, who has the skills and are qualified to diagnose and treat the disorder. If this has not yet been done I encourage you to help your wife be properly diagnosed. This is the first step in any situation of getting treatment.

Chapter One Section One: THE DIFFERENT FORMS AND SEVERITY OF BIPOLAR DISORDER

BIPOLAR DISORDER I

Approximately 1% of the general population has Bipolar 1. Bipolar 1 patients usually experience severe depression, and long full-blown manic episodes. Bipolar 1 patients are often also know as having episodes without any obvious mood problems, this can last for months on end of feeling like your wife is totally fine, fixed so to speak, and or normal. Physicians will call these long-repeating episodes of normalcy Euthymia.

BIPOLAR DISORDER II

This is the most common type of Bipolar Disorder. Recent research has shown that 4 to 5 percent of the general population has Bipolar II. People who suffer with bipolar II have a tendency to have very major depressive episodes. In fact a lot of bipolar patients are misdiagnosed as being depressed for many years before being properly evaluated as Bipolar II. Another diagnosis tool that differentiates from Bipolar I is that most Bipolar II patients do not ever have full-blown mania episodes. Physicians usually call Bipolar II mania episodes as Hypomania. Hypomania does not have the same intensity as full-blown mania. There is usually periods of time with increased energy, a decreed need for sleep without any fatigue, and a slight euphoric sensation. A lot of patients when in this Phase of Bipolar II can be extremely productive. Extreme caution must be taken when in hypomania state. Your wife can easily start abusing substances and have spending issues. More times than not the patient does not realize something is wrong, in fact sometimes welcoming the feeling after a long depression. Most hypomania episodes do not last longer than a week or two.

CYCLOTHYMIA

Cyclothymiacs are a mild form of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) in which a person has mood swings over a period of years that go from mild depression to euphoria and excitement. It has been recently discovered that patients with cyclothymia will usually evolve into Bipolar 1 or Bipolar II through their lifetime.

As you can see a lot of the Bipolar Symptoms can and are very similar sometimes more often than not overlapping and fitting the criteria of not only one but both forms of Bipolar disorder. Often that is why it is not usually heard of as Bipolar 1 or Bipolar II outside of the professional medical field. In standard terms we simply use Bipolar Disorder. Now that we have learned a very brief description and knowledge for bipolar we must start getting more specific accessing your partners specific bipolar symptoms.

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Bipolar II Disorder and Teenagers

Wendy's Changing Behavior

Wendy was a charismatic, high-school junior with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. She was an athletic young woman who loved sports, drama and music. Her friends described her as a person with high energy, drive and a wide circle of friends. Her friend Alicia said “Wow, she has the energy of two people.” However, Wendy seemed to be changing, and her friends were beginning to find her annoying. They thought she appeared depressed, and they surprised if she had family problems. Alicia remarked, “I do not get it, one week she's so revved, and a week later she's as slow as a turtle.”

Wendy had been staying up late for two weeks, whizzing through various projects and spending time on Facebook and YouTube. She had a variety of hobbies that included fashion design and baking. She loved designing new apparel and writing articles about her recipes for the school newspaper. She felt positive and abundantly energetic, and her projects kept her busy into the wee hours of the morning. She usually went to bed around 3 am and would wake up at 7 am feeling energized for her day at school.

Sometimes Wendy felt like chatting in the middle of the night and would call her best friend, Phillip, at 2 am This behavior seemed rude and intrusive to him, but when he tried to talk to her about the problem, she was hard to interrupt, and did not seem to be listening. Wendy was experiencing racing thoughts and some mood swings, and her friends could not understand what was going on.She was not particularly aware of these changes, but she loved her extra energy. There was another minor change that annoyed her friends – Wendy became proud, thinking she had skills beyond her abilities.

She told Phillip that she was going to bring fame to her hometown by winning at the state tennis match being held in St. Louis. Cloud, Minnesota. Tennis had been part of Wendy's life since she was in elementary school, and now she was a top player on the Minneapolis Mavericks. Her net game had improved, but hard work was necessary to excel in her overall game.Wendy had a good serve and felt that her backhand stroke was strong, and she was in the best aerobic condition ever because she lifted weights, ran on her mother's treadmill and took Zumba classes. She was superconfident that she would win against the top-seeded player, and she came across as boastful when she said, “I'll show her tennis she has not seen before – I'm going to blow her out of the water . “Although Wendy had always been good at winning matches against local teams, she had never played at the state level, yet she disclosed in her self-confidence.

A History of Anxiety and Depression

Wendy had not always felt self-confident. When she was about 12 years old, she started struggling with anxiety and depression. She had some sleep problems, and she often felt down, restless and agitated. For some people, feeling agitated can be a way to mask an inner emptiness. Sometimes Wendy had bad dreams in which she was being chased by someone scary or searching for something she could not find.

After Wendy turned 13, she began to have days when she felt sluggish and did not have her normal interest in her many activities. Although she had a lot of energy, Wendy had down days when she did not feel like doing much. Sometimes, while she was working on a project, she would suddenly space out and vaguely sense that inner emptiness again. Her mother said it looked like Wendy was “somewhere else.”

Problems sleeping, agitation, lethargy, down days and a feeling of emptiness are a few of the behavior patterns that are common among teenagers with both bipolar II and / or depressive conditions. At this point was unclear what condition Wendy had – her symptoms could have red flags for an emerging bipolar II condition or a more serious depression, and either can exist simultanously with an anxiety disorder. A complete assessment is necessary to accurately target what disorder may be emerging. The emptiness and sluggish days can be part of the depressive side of bipolar; it is common for teenagers with bipolar to start out with depressive symptoms although some teens start out by experiencing the elevated energy that is the high side of bipolar.

When she was about 14, Wendy was getting worse and finally talked to her mother about her behaviors and feelings. Her mother was worried and took her to see a relationship therapist who had a good reputation with teens. With some professional help, Wendy was able to learn positive coping skills and manage her symptoms well, as many can. She learned to regularly relax and take necessary quiet time. She continued to exercise daily, which greatly helped with her depression and helped manage her agitation. Additionally, she was in a support group where she made friends with others who had mental health challenges. Wendy made it a habit to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning to help regulate her sleep. She also made sure to get eight hours of sleep. She still had sleep issues but felt generally rested during the day.

When she was a high-school freshman, Wendy started seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Smith, for depression. He had prescribed a low dose of an antidepressant that had helped her, and she generally saw him once every three months. During the period before the state tennis finals, Wendy's behavior became erratic, and she stopped her relaxation routine, cut back on her exercise and quit the support group. What was really going on? Fortunately, Wendy's mother made an appointment for Wendy to see Dr. Smith within a few days.

When she went to see Dr. Smith, Wendy learned that she was exhibiting the symptoms of bipolar II. When teenagers have bipolar disorder, it can be difficult for them to maintain good habits because of the depression and the mood swings into “hypomania” (the highs of bipolar II). Wendy was surprised because she had been feeling at the top of her mental game, primarily because of her exercise, support group and wins on the tennis court. However, the emerging mood swings were making it difficult for Wendy to maintain her healthy habits, and she needed an updated treatment plan based on her new diagnosis. She was especially concerned that her agitated behavior would push away her friends and that depression would affect her tennis game.

The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is multidimensional in nature, and because of this, experts are now considering bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia and bipolar NOS as the “bipolar spectrum.” Here are the different types:

  • Bipolar I is identified by episodes alternating between manic periods of abnormal euphoria, optimism, and energy and depressive periods of sadness, helplessness, guilt and sometimes suicidal feelings. People with bipolar I can experience hallucinations and delusions while those with bipolar II do not.
  • Bipolar II is marked by major depressive episodes alternating with episodes of hypomania, a milder form of mania. People with bipolar II depression often have extremely low energy, slowed mental and physical processes, and substantial fatigue. People with bipolar II struggle more with chronic depression while people with bipolar I struggle much more with mania.
  • Cyclothymia is a chronic mood disturbance lasting for at least two years (one year in adolescents) involving numerous hypomanic episodes and numerous periods of depressed mood that are not enough enough to meet the criteria for a major depressive or a manic episode.
  • Bipolar NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) describes a disorder with manic or hypomanic features that does not meet the criteria for any specific bipolar disorder.

Much research has been done on bipolar I, but less attention has been focused on bipolar II and bipolar NOS. People with bipolar II do not have the psychotic features or extreme elevated moods of bipolar I, and hypomania usually does not cause significant distress or greatly impair one's daily life. However, some research indicates that bipolar II can be severe because of the chronic and deep depressions that these people struggle with. Nearest, with advances in education, more people are getting diagnosed, new medicines and treatment strategies are being developed, and further research continues.

It is especially important to diagnose and treat adolescents with bipolar disorder because the condition can interfere with healthy growth and development: mood shifts can cause a decline in school performance and a loss of friends, and excessive sleep can waste valuable life opportunities. Bipolar also causes unnecessary pain and suffering, which can lead to substance abuse and sometimes suicide in untreated young people.

If your teen talks about suicide, it is crucial to take it seriously. Call your doctor, or if the doctor is not available, contact 911 or your nearest hotline. Make every effort to get your teen in a support group for teens with mental health challenges, and, if you are a parent, try your best to get your teen to a therapist.

Diagnosing Bipolar II

Dr. Smith had been treating Wendy for several years, but this was the first time he had assessed her for bipolar II. In order to meet the criteria for this condition, a history of depression and at least one episode of hypomania are necessary. Bipolar II often goes undetected because of problems with a clear definition and a lack of understanding of hypomania. Bipolar II is often misdiagnosed because of the overlap with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, oppositional disorder and ADHD.

While most of Wendy's friends were bothered by her constant talking and boastful attitude, they approved her confidence, endless energy, and various talents. These characteristics can make bipolar II even more challenging to diagnose because the hypomania may appear to be a period of successful high productivity and happiness. Because hypomania can cause a person to feel good, it is reported less frequently than a painful depression.

Dr. Smith believed Wendy was experiencing hypomania based on her grandiosity about winning the state championships, her need for little sleep and her rapid talking. Upon questioning from the doctor, Wendy shared that she had been experiencing an increase in her sex drive but figured it was normal for her age. This cluster of symptoms confirmed a bipolar II diagnosis and the need for an adjustment in her medicine. Dr. Smith explained bipolar II to Wendy, but she denied that she had it, explaining that she was just buzzed about the upcoming championships.

People with bipolar II typically do not have the severe mood swings of bipolar I patients, but they may be prone to longer depressive episodes. Teenagers with bipolar II disorder may often start out with the depressive side of bipolar, and helping professionals may believe that the patient has unipolar depression. If a person has a history of substance abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia and / or major mood disorders, it's important to realize that these are red flags for bipolar; however, not all people with this background get this disorder.

Of course, there are a percentage of cases where hypomania causes significant distress, and it's important to detect hypomania early on. Some research indicates that teens are more prone to auto accidents and may suffer a decline in grades because of the distractibility caused by racing thoughts.There are many faces of hypomania that can help you differentiate the disorder; however, remember that any one person has a cluster of symptoms and not all of them.

Wendy did not like the term “hypomania” for the wonderful feelings she was experiencing, and she did not want to take any additional medication. Dr. Smith was concerned when Wendy refused to take the recommended medication because ignoring hypomania can make bipolar II worse and possibly lead to the more severe bipolar I. People with bipolar I can lose touch with reality, so it is critical to stop the progress of low- end bipolar conditions.

Fortunately, with education, Dr. Smith was able to convince Wendy to take a mood stabilizer to regulate her mood and keep herating depression. He also referred Wendy to me because I have a specialty with bipolar II in teenagers. I taught Wendy a variety of coping skills that will be discussed in the section on treatment interventions.

Bipolar II and Hypomania

Most people with bipolar II experience a cluster of hypomania symptoms, but not all of them.The majority of the highs of bipolar II include the following symptoms:

  • grandiosity
  • a decreed need for sleep
  • distractibility
  • racing thoughts
  • rapid speech, interrupting while others are speaking
  • excess energy
  • hypersexuality
  • a tendency to engage in reckless behavior
  • irritability
  • silly behavior

* See below for detailed information about these symptoms.

Grandiosity: Grandiosity is an exaggerated sense of one's importance, knowledge, power, or identity. A person with grandiosity may seem outrageously boastful, pompous, or pretentious.

Hypersexuality: Hypersexual behavior is an excess interest in, or preoccupation with, sex and a markedly increased need for sexual gratification. A person experiencing hypersexuality may appear to be obsessed with sex. In bipolar disorder, hypersexuality is often seen along with a distinct change in a person's behavior and personality.

Many people with bipolar II do not experience hypersexuality, but it was becoming a problem for Wendy. When she was hypersexual, she would masturbate three times a day and spend time buying sexy clothes, which she did not wear when she was in a stabilized mood. Usually, she was somewhat shy around guys, but during a period of hypomania, she would become provocative and seductive. When she recovered from a hypersexual episode, she said she felt guilty because sleeping with a boy she badly knew was completely out of character for her. Fortunately, the right medication (a mood stabilizer) helped her gain control of her urges before she could be hurt or become pregnant at an early age. Hypersexuality is an aspect of bipolar that is reportedly seldom investigated, and education is greatly needed about this symptom.

Silly behavior: Another symptom of hypomania is silly and goofy behavior. Sometimes Wendy became silent around her friends and roared at her own jokes and goofy behavior. For example, she would make a steady stream of puns through the day, and although her friends thought she was funny, they turned away when she would not stop.

The Depression of Bipolar

Bipolar I is considered the more severe disorder because of the accompanying psychotic behavior, but people with bipolar II generally have more chronic depression than those with bipolar I. Wendy had been diagnosed with depression when she was a freshman in high school. She would get periodic episodes where she just wanted to sleep, felt pessimistic and dwelled on negative thoughts. Wendy told me that she tried to think of something positive when she was depressed, but she could not even get a picture in her mind.

Life appeared to have no meaning for Wendy, and she lost interest in her usual activities. I worked with her to develop a road map to help her get moving because “action, action, action” is essential to treating depression. Accomplishing tasks slowly and successfully along with therapy and a support group can help a teen gradually pull out of a depression.

Based on my extensive experience with teenagers and young adults with depression, I wrote a poem that describes the lethargy of depression, and reading it has helped many teens in my practice to open up. Encourage your child, teen or patient to find ways to express their pain because expressing pain can help release it. Here is a verse from that poem:

Toes cold, same socks mold for days in a row.

Energy compressed, can not do my best

Feeling stuck behind a barbed wire fence.

© 2006 Patrice Wolters

In therapy, I helped Wendy find words to express her feelings. Here is a verse from her poem:

I do not want to walk and I do not want to talk

I'm feeling so low; leave a message on the phone

No, I do not feel like eating, my energy is depleting

They call it depression, down days in succession

Focus on helping your teen or patient create some sort of mental health poetry to help them overcome their unique issues. Remember that people think in distorted ways when they are depressed, which only makes them more depressed. Educate teens in the cultivation of empowering thoughts and help them to make it a daily habit. Teach them to use negative thoughts as a trigger for repeating their empowering mantras.

Bipolar and Drug Abuse

A percentage of people with undetected bipolar II conditions may abuse drugs such as methamphetamine, which helps people escape the chronic lows of bipolar II. Methamphetamine can energize depressed people and get them up and out, getting things done. However, they subsequently crash, become more depressed, and end up in a dangerous cycle. They gradually need more of the drug, and it kills off important brain cells. The possibility of drug abuse is another argument for early identification of bipolar conditions. Alcohol abuse is also common because it self-medicates the pain and chronic irritability of bipolar II depression.

Research indicates that college students abuse prescription drugs, and I expect that the rate is particularly high among students with depression and an undetected bipolar condition. The demand for counselors in colleges has greatly increased, but many colleges do not have the necessary services to meet students' needs. Bipolar appears most frequently after kids have left home and are in their early twenties.

If you have a patient or teenager who you believe is using drugs, make every effort to get him or her to a drug specialist who has knowledge of mood disorders. Involvement in a Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous program has also been successful and often provides a good support group for people trying to quit addictive behavior.

Drugs are a dead-end street, and most people with bipolar conditions need to get on the right medication. A fairly small percentage of people with bipolar disorder are able to manage without medication and lead successful lives. A healthy lifestyle and a variety of cultured mood management skills can enable these people to live fulfilling lives. If your patient or teen does not want to take medication, make sure they eat well, sleep well and stay involved in activities they enjoy. Of course, help them use the positive coping skills discussed in this article.

The Bright Side of Bipolar

Important research has been done regarding the special gifts of people with bipolar conditions. Research by Dr. Kay Jamison indicates that many of our talented poets, actors, politicians, and painters had bipolar conditions. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Catherine Zeta Jones and Robin Williams are a few of those with bipolar who have had remarkable success. There are many people, in a range of professions, who are making significant contributions when they are effectively treated for bipolar. In my practice, I have found that many teenagers with bipolar are highly talented and want to make significant contributions with their talents. It's important to realize that the high energy, creativity and goal-oriented behavior patterns of bipolar II can enable people to make major contributions to society and / or be highly successful.

One area that needs research is the creative management of hypomanic symptoms for success in life. For example, racing thoughts can be used for brainstorming, journaling and creative writing. For a person who commits to the practice, meditation or a martial art can calm thoughts down and help to open new vistas. Writing about symptoms can enable a teen to work through issues, solve problems and move toward positive goals. The chronic irritability and hypersexuality of bipolar II can motivate people to begin a daily fitness program and stay fit for life. People with bipolar II can also learn to channel their irritability into assertiveness and get a lot accomplished.

Working through a depression requires teens to develop resilience (the ability to master the biological and psychological challenges of life) and take responsibility for their moods and behaviors. Additionally, cultivating discipline and a support network helps bipolar teens cope with their symptoms and develop success skills. Teens can become compassionate and sensitive to the pain of others when they deal with the depressive side of bipolar, and this can motivate them to become involved in important social causes.

Overcoming a depression is a struggle that allows young people to develop a variety of strengths and capacities such as willpower, ego strength, flexibility, patience, persistence and, most importantly, responsibility. Bipolar conditions provide an ongoing challenge for teens to find their outer limits in life and become multidimensional people. I like to call this “the bipolar challenge.”

Positive Coping Skills

We have come a long way in terms of treatment for bipolar conditions, and many people benefit from a combination of therapy and medication. Neverheless, more research is needed in determining how people can manage this challenging illness. There are several important skills that can help teenagers, and adults, with bipolar disorder.

Determination: One of the most important things to develop is a determination to make positive copying skills lifelong friends and to turn symptoms into assets. Here is a verse to give your teens if they struggle with lethargy and lack of persistence. Positive thinking in a rhyme format will help teens remember important mental maps that can help them get up and get going. Adults can also help teens write their own rhymes based on inspiring words that motivate them. Do whatever works!

Persistence

I can pull myself up against my own resistance

To get a job done that I do not want to do

And I can do it over and over for as long as it takes

To alter my existence, based on my existence

That I can create the world that I want.

© 2006 by Patrice Wolters

Focus on health and strength: Teenagers with bipolar disorder generally need a variety of outlets for their energy and good strategies to pull out of a depression. They often require some form of medication, the benefit of a healthy diet, and good sleep hygiene. Since bipolar teens may feel bad about themselves, it's essential to help guide them to think realistically and optimistically about their condition and to help cultivate their strengths.

Teach your teens and patients to write their strengths on an index card and have them post it where they can see it regularly to remind them of their strengths. People with bipolar disorder, and depression, need to find positive thoughts to replace the chronic negative ones. Remind your teens that they are brilliant, talented and resourceful (or whatever words might inspire them).

Postponement: Hypersexual behavior had a compulsive quality for Wendy, but the medication reduced the intensity of her urges and helped her settle down. Still, she needed some strategies to control her urges, so I taught Wendy to use postponement to manage her sexual urges. When she felt hypersexual, Wendy learned to take charge of her thinking by saying to herself “I can postpone this urge and get something physical done instead.” She would often lift weights, run or work on an unfinished project. With practice, Wendy learned to develop the habit of postponing her desires to masturbate, go to parties, and buy sexy clothes. Wendy gradually learned to be more in charge of her hypomania and developed some self-esteem as a result. She sometimes reflected, “I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Wendy also made use of a thinking tool I developed called “Take charge, channel and change.” When she felt a sexual urge, she would talk to herself in a proactive and realistic manner by saying something like “Okay, I'm starting to feel hypersexual, and this is a signal that I need to get moving with my projects. 'in charge' of my moods. Right now, I'm going to postpone acting on these urges and 'channel' my energy to get a project done. It's dangerous to act on these urges, and I will not. I am in charge of me, and I can 'change' some day day. ” These realistic thinking patterns helped Wendy take charge of her sexual urges. Learning to postpon any behavior that feels excessive or intenet can be challenging at first, but it can do wonders for self-esteem and a sense of empowerment.

Wendy made up a list of the following projects to get involved in when she felt either hypomanic or depressed. The projects required a push with the persistence rhyme, but they were easy physical tasks that possessed her a sense of accomplishment and got her moving through the challenging symptoms.

  • Clean room
  • Organize closet
  • Wash clothes
  • Iron clothes
  • Clean bathroom
  • Run, practice tennis or weight train
  • Vacuum room

These were all things that she could do at home, and they provided a focus for her excess energy. When broken down into mini-steps, the projects also provided a focus for when she was depressed, and they facilitated “change.” Wendy was artistic, so she created a picture with the tasks drawn in cartoons that helped her get going when she felt down.

Of course, Wendy would still get some urges while involved in her projects, but she practiced bringing her mind back to the task at hand. The statement “I am in charge, I can channel and I can change” became her mantra to get started, follow through and complete daily living tasks. The completion of tasks reinforces positive thinking, which eventually became a mind-set for Wendy.

Get up and going – 1-2-3-4: When Wendy was depressed, her biggest challenge was to get out of bed. Together, Wendy and I laid out an initial 1-2-3-4 routine that would get her up and going on the weekends. This routine has helped many teenagers with bipolar depression beat the bipolar blues. It has also helped those with unipolar depression.

  1. Lie in bed and set a priority for the day. When Wendy was depressed, her priority was often to get out and practice some tennis because she knew it helped her mood. Most any athletic activity is an effective treatment for depression.
  2. Shout, “Two, I can bust my mood!” and jump out of bed. Just getting up is a big achievement when a person is depressed, and shouting gets the energy going.
  3. Make the bed. This gives a beginning sense of accomplishment and makes it harder to get back in bed.
  4. Get a cup of coffee or tea, and eat some breakfast to provide nutrients for the day and get some energy flowing.

At this point, it was time to perform the next four steps and to continue this process through the day. Built into this behavioral pattern was breaking Wendy's day into small tasks that helped her build some momentum. While people vary on their steps, the next four for Wendy consulted of the following:

  1. Put on makeup.
  2. Brush teeth and floss.
  3. Get dressed.
  4. Get out the door.

Once she was out in the fresh air and on her way to the tennis court, the probability of her going back to bed was low. Encourage your teen or patient to create a routine and make it a habit. Using numbers or some type of sequence can facilitate breaking steps down to help teens get moving and begin to beat the blues. Talking or singing to themselves can be helpful because action is the name of the game. Teens who are not in treatment for bipolar disorder can get help from healthy friends, community groups, or trusted ministers.

Learn to master procrastination: Many depressed people procrastinate because their motivation and energy are low, but they can move toward creating positive energy by getting things done that they do not want to do. The trick is to set some time for the completion of unsuccessful tasks. Wendy did not like her history teacher, and she often arrived late to class. It was her first class of the day, so it was easy to sleep in longer. She would imagine how boring the class would be and think, “Well, I'll be on time tomorrow,” but her tomorrows became a string of yesterdays, and she had a D average by the middle of the semester.

So, Wendy was to start her day by imagining how good she would feel with a B in the class. She was to schedule “History at 9 am” on her iPod and get to class regardless of her mood. If she was depressed, tired, anxious or unmotivated, she was to get up and go anyway. Taking charge of this problem and other aversive tasks brave Wendy positive energy and a sense of empowerment because she was taking care of business. Learning to push through lethargy is a habit that can gradually transform your world.

Bipolar II is a challenging condition, but it is treatable. Knowing the early symptoms of this condition can increase the likelihood of an accurate diagnosis in your teen, your patient or yourself. You can do something about bipolar, and you can get well. Remember, you are not your illness, you have an illness, and I encourage you to form mood management habits for a fulfilling life. Although social stigma may still cause significant shame about coming forward with bipolar symptoms, you can be one of the people who seek help, and help can make all the difference in the world. Remember there is hope, there is help and it can be just a phone call away.

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