How to Spot Potential Depression or Bipolar DisorderWritten by Julie A. Fast
Is it Moodiness or a Mood Disorder? How to Spot Potential Depression or Bipolar Disorder Step aside, ADD and anxiety—mood disorders are fast becoming most talked-about illness of decade. From sitcom characters and celebrities to everyday adults and children, more and more people are being diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder. Still, thousands of others continue to suffer, undiagnosed and untreated. How do you know whether your moodiness is a normal reaction to life or sign of a serious medical disorder? Before you head for Prozac—or endure another day of undiagnosed misery—get facts on these often misunderstood illnesses. There are two types of mood disorders: bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) and depression (also known as unipolar depression). The symptoms of depression include a lack of interest in things that once brought pleasure, constant feelings of sadness and emptiness, and an inability to get things done. Bipolar disorder has all of symptoms of depression as well as a mood swing called mania; people with bipolar disorder can cycle back and forth between two states. Scientifically defined as a “pathologically elevated mood,” mania can create feelings of euphoria, omnipotence, or hyperarousal that are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in brain. People with mania may experience extreme exhilaration and other seemingly “good” feelings, but mania can also manifest as agitation, scattered thoughts, and feelings of extreme emotional discomfort.
Depression and bipolar disorder share a range of other symptoms, including psychosis (a break with reality that can be characterized by hallucinations and distorted thoughts), irritation and anger, problems with attention and concentration (often misdiagnosed as ADD), and anxiety. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often misinterpreted as signs of other illnesses or personality defects, and real culprit—a serious mood disorder—is often misdiagnosed or brushed off. People with undiagnosed mood disorders often mistake their illness for a flaw in their character, and can spend years desperately trying to “get their acts together and lead lives like regular people” instead of seeking psychiatric evaluation for an illness. In reality, both depression and bipolar disorder are fairly easy to diagnose—once they are considered as real possibilities. Although a proper diagnosis must be made by a trained professional, here are some clues that may help you determine if your “moodiness” is a sign of a serious illness: Suicidal thoughts: Thoughts of suicide are common among those suffering from serious depression. Whether action-oriented (I'm going to get a gun and shoot myself; I'm going to take a bottle of pills with a bottle of wine) or more passive (I wish I were dead; Things would be better if I were gone), suicidal thoughts are always a sign that a person’s brain chemistry is not functioning properly, and that professional help is needed immediately. Unnaturally elevated moods: Mania can be so sneaky. When a person who has been depressed suddenly feels cloud lift, it's natural to think that depression has ended and that person is finally “back to normal.” But for people with bipolar disorder, this is often first stage of an unnatural, escalating mood swing in opposite direction. Mania often feels so good—at first—that it's hard for people to recognize it, or acknowledge it as a serious problem. Unfortunately, feelings of euphoria or agitation can continue to intensify until person no longer makes sense. Those who eventually experience full-blown manic episodes often end up hospitalized, but countless others who suffer from milder manic episodes (known as hypomania) often go untreated, or are treated only for depression. If you or those around you notice marked shifts in your energy, agitation, or feelings of well-being especially if they affect your sleep patterns, you may suffer from bipolar disorder. A psychiatrist or properly trained physician can diagnose your symptoms to determine whether you’re just recovering from depression or experiencing flip side of this serious illness.
Finding Rehab for Family MembersWritten by David Westbrook
Having worked on an alcohol and drug treatment referral line over several years, and having answered thousands of calls over those years, I know that family members are frequently first ones to realize that an addict or alcoholic is in need of help. Every family member who realizes this and seeks treatment for a loved one wants treatment to work. Research has shown that there are several key considerations that need to be taken into account for treatment to work most effectively.
•Supervised withdrawal is only first step and by itself will do little to solve problem Withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can be dangerous. In fact about 1 in 10 alcoholics who attempt to withdrawal off alcohol without medical supervision actually end up dying. Therefore a medically supervised detox center is frequently a necessary first step in treatment. However, some people confuse this short 3 to 7 day period with treatment, which it is not. If you are looking for treatment for someone make sure that you don’t stop once you’ve found them a place to detox. The best situation is for person to go directly from detox to rehab.
•What works for one family members treatment may not work for another’s Because there is a genetic component to addiction family members who are helping a loved one in to treatment have often experienced treatment themselves. One common mistake is to assume that what worked for you or person’s uncle will work for them. This simply is not true. The ultimate success of each individual entering treatment depends on finding right treatment setting and methods for individual, and everyone’s needs are different.
•Find treatment centers that deal with more than just addiction Drug addiction is a multidimensional problem, and treatment needs to address all of an individual’s needs. Good treatment must address individual's drug use, but it should also attend to any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, or legal problems.
•Don’t settle for any program that doesn’t include therapy Many alcoholics and addicts mistakenly believe that if they could just stop using for a week or two they could stop using forever. In reality, counseling (individual and/or group) is a critical part of every effective addiction treatment episode. In therapy, addicts, build skills to resist drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding nondrug-using activities, examine their motivations for using drugs and improve problem-solving abilities. Additionally, therapy helps individuals to rebuild and re-learn family and social living patterns.
•Drug testing during treatment is important Don’t be fooled that just because you get a loved one into treatment means that they are suddenly safe from drugs. Drugs are brought into treatment centers all time putting those seeking recovery at risk of relapse. This means that every individual in treatment should be monitored for drug treatment on an ongoing basis. In this manner treatment, plans may be modified to increase chance of ultimate success.