What DIsorder Do I Have?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I am confused on what disorder i actuall have. I suffer from symptems of a number of them. I need help narrowing it down. I was told as a child that I am bipolar disorder. But in a recent conversation with my boy-friend about it, I got a lil’ curious. I looked it up and of course it lead me to other disorders. And the more i read on these the more it seemed to me that i suffer from a number of different ones. I am not sure which one I could have. I have signs for bipolar, depression, ocd, and mood disorder. I have realized there is a connection between them. but is it possible for some one to suffer from all of these disorders at the same time.
thank you for your help

A: When I teach a class in Abnormal Psychology, one of the first things I tell the students is that they will recognize themselves in a lot of the “disorders” we talk about. This is because almost every disorder is merely an extreme example of a normal part of the human condition. Almost all of us have times we are anxious. Almost all of us have times we are depressed. We all have our ups and downs. Almost everyone has little rituals that help us get through the day. (Coffee on the way to work? Need to organize the desk before tackling a project?) We can even all have hallucinations when we’re over-tired or have had too much to drink, for example. A usual thought or behavior or experience becomes a disorder when it interferes with functioning and relationships. Your psychiatrist certainly needs to understand what is going on with you to appropriately prescribe medication. But the question I would ask you if you were to come to my office is how it would help you to nail down a label for yourself. It’s not the label that’s important. In fact, focussing on finding out the “right” label can be a major distraction from doing the real work: figuring out what is getting in the way of living a successful life and learning what to do about it.
My best advice to you is to work with your doctor so that he or she will have a working diagnosis. Then turn your attention to doing your personal work so that you can get on with life.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Oct 2006

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). What DIsorder Do I Have?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/10/09/what-disorder-do-i-have/