Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Hi. I have short-temper. I also have this impulsivity that I can’t get rid of, for example, if my brothers had abused me emotionally sometime in the past and if another person asks me to get help from them I just get easily flipped out and scream at that person in their face. Although I can control this behaviour but it occurs so impulsively that i later regret it.

I want to give you a little background as well. It seems like mental illness runs in my family. My dad has always been abusive and treats everyone with disgust. On top of that, my two sisters have been schizophrenics for over 10 years. They have created a lot of mayhem at home so I have grown up under a lot of stressful environment. I have been mentally affected of course. However, the most damage that I have suffered from mentally was done by my dad. He has abused me emotionally a lot. I cried a lot because of his behavior and I never have great self-confidence. I always consider myself a low creature due to low-self esteem.

While talking to people I get easily distracted and very forgetful. They have to ask the same question again to get my answer. It is easily seen by them and I cannot hide it.

I feel emptiness emotionally. If someone dies or dying in front of me, I will have no emotions for that person. I might not help them either. That’s how I feel deep down.

I feel tired, have lack of motivation to do day to day stuff. I get constant headaches, sometime unknown aches all over my body. Sometimes I have a hard time reading articles, get easily tired.

I have also done some stuff that is way uncharacteristic of me. For example, running on my treadmill full naked. Telling Sexually-natured jokes and laughing excessively with family members and friends. There have been some moments where I feel really depressed at one minute and the next I feel cheerful.

Sometimes I also feel like thoughts are racing through , one coming after another with such ease that is unthinkable for a normal mind.

I have done silly things like twisting my friend’s thumb while talking or if a girl is asking an address from another person I try to help her on my own without her permission.

After reading my story, what mental problem I might have? Give me a rough idea. Thanks a lot. Asad

A. Dear Asad, it is difficult to read a short history over the Internet and offer a diagnosis. You mentioned bipolar disorder as a possible diagnosis and based on the information you have revealed, that may be a possibility. A personality disorder may also be possible. If I had the opportunity to interview you in person and ask you many questions, it might give me a better sense of what you may be suffering from.

I generally contend that knowing your “exact” psychiatric diagnosis is not always important. If you are experiencing problems that hinder or stunt your psychological development then some action needs to be taken. In such instances, therapy should be considered.

You have lived a difficult life and have many challenges. You’re impulsive and forgetful, by your own admission, and have a short temper although the anger you say you can control but sometimes choose not to. As you may already know, anger can affect your ability to have good relationships because few people like to be in the company of angry and unpredictable people. Your sisters have schizophrenia, a disease that is notoriously difficult to manage and usually takes a toll on the family. As you said, growing up in that chaotic environment had a negative impact upon you. Your father was emotionally abusive towards you and others and this experience undoubtedly left you scarred. This could explain why you experience emotional dysregulation.

Most people enter therapy as adults because of problems that stem from their childhood or their upbringing. It is probably the number one reason therapy is needed.

The issues you wrote about are correctable and should be treated. You may benefit from medication to help control your impulsivity and therapy could greatly assist you in the emotional issues you struggle with. You may be able to learn how to respond appropriately to certain situations. Therapy would also help you with your low self-esteem.

I am sorry that I could not offer you a more specific diagnosis but I do think that if you are willing to seek help for your issues there is a good chance they can be resolved. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Nov 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/11/10/major-depression-or-bipolar-disorder/

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