I recently got a call from an aging family member who has suffered with bipolar disorder, untreated for most of his life. He explained to me about the police cars that had “surrounded” his home and were “monitoring” him, but really were trying to harm him because they were involved in a “conspiracy with the gangsters who live down the street.”
I sighed. This was just another in a long line of these kinds of episodes, and I was pretty sure it would resolve on its own with my relative hunkering down in his house for a while until he was sure the police had gone away.
But then I decided to go see him as soon as I could, because he just turned 80 and I began to wonder if I should be worried that in addition to his bipolar disorder he might not be showing some signs of dementia. I wasn’t sure about the overlap between bipolar and dementia. We know from studies that people with bipolar disorder often have cognitive problems – memory, executive function, and other thinking problems. But does this put them at higher risk for memory problems in old age?
My son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the 5th grade. He is now about to turn 21. He cuts and he cannot hold a job or finish a class at the local community college.
His bipolar disorder seems to be more depression-based than manic, or maybe the lithium and Abilify he takes helps the mania but doesn’t treat the depression.
Are there any medications recently developed which can help the depression? I know there is a study underway looking at this problem, but I can’t find out much about it. Sam took the initial test and they said that he qualified, but is no longer interested in participating in the research.
I’m currently co-facilitating a NAMI Family-to-Family course. Class 6 is all about medications and includes a very important section on medication adherence. In the class, we discussed the various reasons, many of which are valid, that people with brain disorders stop taking their medications.
Atypical antipsychotics, for example, have a nasty reputation for causing significant weight gain. Many psychotropic medications have negative sexual side effects, including diminished libido and an inability to climax. Some people, especially those who have experienced hypomania feel as though the medications flat line them – as we say in Bipolar Disorder For Dummies, “Normal is boring.”
Just posted three new bipolar stories on our Bipolar Blog. I encourage you to check them out and post comments, especially on Rachel’s story. Sounds like she could really use some support and suggestions.
Also, if you have an intimate relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder, I suggest that you read “Dealing with a Lack of Intimacy,” which provides a unique perspective on this topic.
A list of stories is posted on the Bipolar Stories page near the middle. On the right, stories are listed in alphabetical order.
Photo by Sugarpond, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.