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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Is it Bipolar Disorder?


 teardrops - Tue May 01, 2007 2:22 pm

Hello. I am a 21 year old female. I had previously been diagnosed with depression by my doctor and I was put on meds and referred to a psychiatrist. However, as a college student, I am still on my parents health insurance and the refused to let me seek help from a psychiatrist and told me it was all in my head. The medicine I was on only heightened my suicidal thoughts and I stopped taking it. Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine and she told me that I remind her a lot of a friend of her's who is bipolar. I go a few days to a week or so where I am very depressed and sad and even consider suicide. Then I will go a few days where I can't believe I ever thought of suicide and I am happy and carefree. There are times when I blow up at everyone, including my family, friends and boyfriend. I have lost a lot of friends and I have destroyed my relationship with my boyfriend and I am sure he has had about enough. During my low periods, I have greatly considered suicide and have done things like cut myself. Each time it gets worse, and as much as I hate doing it and feeling that way, I just can't help it. Currently, i am on no medications. How should I bring this up with my doctor?
 teardrops - Tue May 01, 2007 2:36 pm

A couple things I forgot to mention. There have been times when I have started to shake, sometimes during stressful times, and sometimes for no reason at all. I also get very lightheaded and feel like I am about to faint. I have blackedout a couple of times during stressful situations. I don't know if those things are significant, but I thought i would add them in.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Wed May 02, 2007 8:35 am

User avatar Hi,
I am happy to see you are investigating the cause of your problems. Suicidal thoughts are nothing to take lightly and it is important that you get the right diagnosis and treatment. I am not a psychiatrist but I do know that bipolar disorder is frequently missed as a diagnosis and one study suggested that there is an average of 11 years before the correct diagnosis is made. This is because it is complex and can mimic other conditions - even "normal" ups and downs, especially in adolescence. There is one form of bipolar disorder, called Bipolar Type II that is a little different than the more classic Bipolar Type I. It is also easier to miss without a qualified mental health professional and complete workup. Major depression is the most frequently diagnosed condition so it is not surprising that you were prescribed antidepressants, which are often an important part of the treatment even in bipolar, but if you truly have bipolar disorder, you will need something to help stabilize your moods. The good news is that there are effective treatments. It is also possible that it is something different than this altogether but you need to get to the bottom of the problem for sure.

You said they won't let you see a psychiatrist. What type of mental health coverage do you have? Perhaps you could start with another mental health professional such as a licensed clinical therapist. I would check with your insurance customer service (there may be a number on your membership card) to find out how to get mental health care. There may be some hoops you need to jump through first - perhaps it must come from a referral from your primary care physician - but you should be able to get some help. Be completely honest and open with your doctor about the thoughts you have had. If he or she does not seem to listen to you, perhaps you can change your primary care physician. Most insurance companies let you do this. Many communities also have mental health clinics and this might be a place to begin. Does your college offer any services such as this? You may need to be very persistent to get the care you need and deserve. You may also get some information from http://www.nami.org (the National Alliance for Mental Illness in the USA). Please let us know how this goes and good luck.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sat May 05, 2007 7:12 pm

User avatar Dear Teardrops:

I would like to add that bipolar disorder is a diagnosis that I would consider if I were seeing you professionally, in person. Your symptoms do sound suspiciously like the characteristic extremes of ups and downs that set bipolar disorder apart from anxiety and depression.

When you said "they won't let me see a psychiatrist," did you mean your insurance plan or did you mean your parents?
Maybe you shoiuld talk to a counselor at your college. Many colleges do have a student clinic, at minimum, and many have a counseling program. Start there, and then, if a psychiatrist is required, perhaps you could have someone from the chool talk with your parents.

I think you do definitely have a problem that deserves to be investigated by a physician.

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