Q. My 36 year old son has special needs and has been treated for biopolar for several years. He has gone through family problems including his much loved younger brother dying at 27 of a brain tumour and the father he loved leaving him to move away to another country and not allowing him to visit. The medication does nothing for his mood swings and I am having serious doubts that he does actually have biopolar. He attends a day centre and his care worker at the time when he was put on this medication told me that he didn’t agree with the diagnosis or the medication. If he isn’t bipolar could this medication be counterproductive? he still has mood swings and the medication doesn’t seem to make any difference

A. Without knowing more information about his history and current and past medication regime it is difficult to answer this question. It is possible that he is not bipolar and this medication makes his mood swings worse. I cannot know this for sure. It is also quite possible that he is bipolar but that he may be on the wrong medication. Finding the right combination of medication can be a difficult task and can and often does take a lot of trial and error. It is not an exact science. For patients, family members and even doctors, finding the right combination of treatments can be a trying and frustrating time. It will require patience on the part of everyone involved.

The best solution in this situation is to share your concerns and observations with his doctor. You may not be able to speak directly to his doctor directly (due to HIPPA laws), but you can call and leave as many messages as you want. There is no law against you calling and sharing this information with his doctor. His doctor needs to know this information to know how to best treat your son. Is he is therapy? Is he willing to attend therapy? Therapy as an adjunct to medication may also help to control his mood swings. Is he taking his medication every day? Is he taking it as prescribed? Is it possible that he is using drugs or alcohol? All of these things can affect his mood and how well the medication works. Knowing the exact diagnosis is not as important as finding knowledgeable mental health professionals, willing to work with you and your son to find the best combination of medication and treatments. I would suggest contacting his doctor and sharing your concerns. I wish you and your son the best of luck.