One of the things I hate most about bipolar disorder is how subtly sinister it can be when a loved one is trending toward mania — not manic yet or even hypomanic, just talking faster and louder, blurting out statements that are a little too open and honest and perhaps hurtful, and being more self-centered than usual.
A lot of bad stuff can happen during these times to drive a wedge between loved ones, but nothing bad enough to convince the person or a doctor or therapist that bipolar is at work.
During periods of low-grade pre-hypomania, uncertainty fogs the mind. In our family, we argue more and “walk on eggshells.” Everyone’s afraid to mention the elephant in the room out of fear of being accused of blaming bipolar disorder or the person who has it for our family drama. After all, the rest of us in the family are admittedly less than perfect, and even in a normal, healthy family (whatever that is), interpersonal conflicts arise.
According to an article by Debra-Lynn B. Hook entitled “How SAD Affects Bipolar Disorder,” as many as 20 percent of people with bipolar disorder can expect to experience seasonal depression and/or mania or hypomania. The article distinguishes between those who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and seasonal bipolar disorder.
Hook describes several treatment options for dealing with this seasonal component, including using light therapy in the winter and melatonin to help regulate circadian rhythms.
I was somewhat surprised that only 20 percent of people with bipolar report a connection between mood and seasonal changes.
Have you noticed a connection? What do you do, if anything, to maintain mood stability as the seasons change?
Photo by Michael Spoula, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
I watched an episode of Intervention last night. The woman involved in the intervention, Marci, was heavy into alcohol and drugs, including smoking crystal meth. Prior to the intervention, she had lost her home, her marriage, and custody of her children. By the end of the show, she agreed to treatment, was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, received effective treatment, and experienced a complete turnaround.
You may be able to short-circuit a developing mood episode through early intervention, but to do so, you must first be able to identify the early warning signs. In this post, I point out some common early warning signs of an oncoming bipolar mood episode (depression, mania, or mixed) and ask you to share your early warning signs.