Bipolar Articles

Judgment, Low Expectations and Mindfulness

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Judgment, Low Expectations and MindfulnessCertainly, the people closest to you want what’s best for you. They want you to be safe, secure, and, if possible, happy. Sometimes they want these things for us even more than we want them for ourselves. This is loving, caring, and compassionate. And it can be a burden that holds us back from our true potential.

After a year of not working due to the difficulties of my bipolar disorder, I abandoned hope of returning to the executive ranks I had belonged to. I took a job in human services, supporting people with developmental disabilities. It was challenging, rewarding, and important work. It paid very little.

I was back in the workforce and establishing my independence just as I was 40 and back living with my parents. My passion for business and economics became hobbies, stuff I read about, and I lowered my expectations of what I could accomplish. So did the people around me.

Why Your Depression Treatment Efforts Aren’t Working

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Why Your Depression Treatment Efforts Aren't WorkingTackling depression or bipolar sometimes feels like an endless battle against an external invading force in your mind.

Almost everyone I know who suffers from either illness has — at some point or another — come up against the two greatest fighting forces it deploys against anybody seeking to bounce back and thrive: anticipation and inertia.

These powerful forces target your arsenal of depression- or bipolar-fighting strategies. But you can defend yourself and prevail. Here’s a field guide to knowing thy enemy and exploiting their weaknesses.

Anticipation hits when you are in the planning stages of your depression or bipolar battle master plan.

In Order to Heal, We Must Be Willing to Hear

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

In Order to Heal, We Must Be Willing to HearWhen my son was diagnosed with bipolar illness, he desperately wanted someone who would listen. Someone to acknowledge the validity of his experiences when he was manic, psychotic, depressed, someone to “meet him where he was in his illness.”

I regret that I was not always that person.

I was so scared and confused myself that he worried that speaking to me about his own fear and confusion would make things all the harder for me.

6 Famous People with Depression Who Inspire Me

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

6 Famous People With Depression Who Inspire MeWhen a famous actor/actress, politician, or prominent figure of any kind risks ridicule to discuss their mood disorder, the world stops to listen.

For as long as his or her face graces the cover of a glossy magazine or the TV interview runs, folks seem to appreciate the sweat and suffering that those with depression and bipolar disorder endure as part of their illness.

I know that for me, I certainly listen to their stories, empathize with them, and take away lessons that I can use in my own recovery from depression and anxiety. Celebrities, for better or worse, can inspire us.

Here are just six of those celebrities that inspire me.

5 Essential Remedies for Treating Depression: Coming Back from the Brink

Friday, March 7th, 2014

5 Essential Remedies for Treating Depression: Coming Back from the BrinkGraeme Cowan suffered through a five-year episode of depression that his psychiatrist described as the worst he has ever treated.

Part of his recovery involves helping people build their resilience and mental fitness as the Director of R U OK? In his book, Back From the Brink: True Stories and Practical Help for Overcoming Depression and Bipolar Disorder, he offers advice gleaned from interviews with 4,064 people who live with mood disorders.

He asked the respondents to rate the treatments they had tried and how much each had contributed to their recovery. Here’s what he found.

Treating Teen Bipolar Disorder with Medication

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Treating Teen Bipolar Disorder with MedicationIf your child has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you might have already had a discussion with his or her psychiatrist about medication. However, using psychotropic medication, although growing as a choice for treating psychological disorders, continues to carry a stigma. Often, those who take medication for their mental health are judged or looked down upon.

Despite this, research shows that the combination of medication and individual therapy are quite effective for treating most mood disorders. For bipolar disorder, specifically, medication can manage the wide swing of changing moods from depression to mania. This article will address the various forms of medication that might be used in teen bipolar disorder treatment.

Thriving with Mental Illness: Q&A with Elaina J. Martin

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Thriving with Mental Illness: Q&A with Elaina J. MartinHere’s a message we don’t hear nearly enough: Even though living with mental illness is hard — really hard — many people are successfully managing their conditions and savoring satisfying, healthy lives.

Here’s another message we need to hear more: How they do it.  

That’s why we’ve created this new interview series. Every month we’ll talk with people about everything from how they overcome the toughest challenges of their mental illness to how they’ve found treatment to their favorite resources.

In our first interview, Elaina J. Martin, who writes the popular Psych Central blog Being Beautifully Bipolar, shares her story. She reveals how she received her diagnosis along with powerful and inspiring insights into managing bipolar disorder, the importance of honesty, how loved ones can help and much, much more.

Social Rhythm Psychotherapy for Bipolar II

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Social Rhythm Psychotherapy for Bipolar IIWhile most mental health professionals and doctors turn to medications first to treat bipolar disorder, they miss an opportunity to treat it naturally, through the use of psychotherapy. And while medication may be an appropriate first-line treatment for bipolar I disorder, where the mood states are more well-defined and severe, it’s less clear that it is as beneficial in bipolar II disorder.

It’s probably most accurate to describe bipolar II as a condition of complex mixed mood states. Sadly, because bipolar II isn’t as easily recognized as bipolar I, it is often misdiagnosed and goes untreated. People present most often with clinical depression while suffering from bipolar II, leaving the hypomanic episodes undiscovered unless a person is specifically asked about them.

Psychotherapy can be a beneficial, effective treatment method for bipolar II, with or without the use of adjunct medication. Here’s how it works.

Latuda: A New Treatment Option for Bipolar Depression

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Latuda: A New Treatment Option for Bipolar DepressionThe depressive episodes that accompany bipolar disorder have often perplexed both people who have bipolar disorder and the professionals who want to help treat them. People with ordinary clinical depression — at one time called unipolar depression — often have a few treatment options to choose from, usually starting with psychotherapy or antidepressants.

But using antidepressants in the treatment of depression of someone who has bipolar disorder can have unexpected — and unwanted — effects. Studies of antidepressant use in bipolar disorder have been decidedly mixed.

So it’s always welcome news when a new medication — or a new use for an existing medication — has been approved. Such is the case with Latuda (lurasidone).

Mindfulness Meditation: As Simple As Breathing?

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Mindfulness Meditation: As Simple As Breathing?Mindfulness is either on the cusp of something great, or risks becoming the latest self-help fad to perish from oversimplification. It has, without a doubt, improved my functioning with bipolar disorder.

In working with others, I have seen similar results. And while research specific to meditation and bipolar disorder is scarce, the effect of mindfulness on other mental illnesses is well documented, and positive.

But it’s not so easy.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Let’s ‘Assist’ Patients By Forcing Them

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Let's 'Assist' Patients By Forcing ThemAssisted outpatient treatment (AOT) is a marketing term for involuntary commitment, but in an outpatient setting. AOT is like putting lipstick on a pig and calling her a princess. Experts on AOT sometimes like to pretend AOT is something different than forced treatment:

“Forcing [a person] to take medication is assisting him to make the choice we think he would make if he had a normally functioning brain.”
~ E. Fuller Torrey, MD & Jonathan Stanley, JD

Let’s delve into the twisted logic here of assisted outpatient treatment.

The Cost of Mental Illness to Employers & Employees

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

The Cost of Mental Illness to Employers & EmployeesIn a previous post, I asserted the need for people with mental illness who are functioning well to speak out about their success with their disease. I also spoke of the importance for people to hold themselves as examples of how one can live successfully and productively with a mental illness.

On second thought, you may want to be cautious about doing this at work.

Individual contributions help make companies successful, and surely people with mental illness contribute greatly to their employer’s success.

However, people with mental illness may also contribute greatly to their employer’s health care and productivity costs. All companies seek to minimize costs. In doing so they may limit opportunities available to those with a known mental illness in order to avoid the significant costs often associated with psychiatric conditions.

How much does an employee with mental illness cost?

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