Tag Archives: bipolar disorder

“Changes in the DSM-5 Related to Bipolar Disorders” by Natasha Tracy

16 Jun


From Healthline.com:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5 (DSM-5) is due out any moment now, and in it, there are changes to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The changes aren’t huge, but they are worth knowing about if you have bipolar disorder. Here’s an overview of what the DSM-5 does to bipolar disorder.

The Separation of Depressive and Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorder and depression have now each been placed in their own chapter in the DSM-5. Whereas once we had a mood disorders chapter, now we have a Bipolar and Related Disorders and a Depressive Disorders chapter.

This separation may not seem like a big deal, but it seems to signal a move away from thinking about depression and bipolar existing along a spectrum, and this is a change I disagree with.

DSM-5 Changes to Bipolar Disorders

In addition to putting bipolar disorders in their own chapter, there are a couple of other changes as well. One change is to the main criteria of bipolar manic or hypomanic episodes which did state the mood must be markedly expansive, elated, or irritable. Added to this list is now, “an emphasis on changes in activity and energy as well as mood.”

There is no longer a “Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified” diagnosis, now there is an “Other Specified Bipolar and Related Disorder” diagnosis. This diagnosis is designed to take into account people who may, for example, have a history of depression and meet all the criteria of hypomania, except the duration. Similarly, if a person has too few symptoms to meet the bipolar II criteria, but has been symptomatic for more than four days, they may also fall under this new diagnosis.

Bipolar Disorder Specifiers

In addition to the typical diagnoses of bipolar mania, hypomania, and depression, further information about the mood can be denoted with a “specifier.”  A specifier is an extension to the diagnosis that further clarifies the course, severity or special features of the disorder or illness. Specifiers were used in the DSM-IV but not much was ever said about them. The two new specifiers in the DSM-5 are “with mixed features” and “with anxious distress.”

The “with mixed features” specifier denotes a mood that simultaneously contains both manic/hypomanic and depressive symptoms. It is interesting as it can be applied to any mood: manic, hypomanic or depressed (including unipolar depression). This is a fairly major change as previously mixed moods could only officially be diagnosed in bipolar I mania.

The “with anxious distress” specifier is designed to denote patients suffering from anxiety symptoms that are not part of the bipolar diagnostic criteria.

What Do the DSM-5 Changes Mean for People with Bipolar?

Not much, actually.

If you have bipolar I, bipolar II or cyclothymia, that won’t have changed. You might get a new specifier added on, but that’s about it. Other than that, it’s mostly just a few word changes.

In all, people with bipolar disorder got off easy with very few changes, which is good in terms of healthcare coverage and billing codes.

“The Boston Marathon Bombings: You Don’t Have to Watch the Media Coverage” by Julie Fast

18 Apr
From the blog Bipolar Happens by Julia Fast:

“Regarding the bombings at the Boston Marathon in the United States

It’s so important to remember that we don’t have to follow the news if
it upsets us. We can read about it next week- or ask others for an

A 24 hour CNN stream of the aftermath of this event is detrimental if you are not doing well.

If you are upset right now, I highly suggest staying off the internet
and turning off the TV. That is what I do. Anxiety, especially OCD,
paranoia, fear, depression and worry about the future can be triggered. I
always remind myself that I can learn about a world event and then let it
go. If donations are needed, I always find it helps to support an
organization like the Red Cross.”

“What Patients Say Works for Bipolar Disorder” by Alexandra Carmichael

15 Apr
From the blog 23andMe:

“Some of the most effective treatments for bipolar disorder reported by patients are not drugs, according to a new study by CureTogether, a free resource owned by 23andMe that allows people to share information about their health and treatments.

People in the study said they found that lifestyle changes like exercising, reducing alcohol intake, and having a defined sleep schedule were the most effective. The exception, according to those surveyed, was the drug Lamictal. Conversely some popular treatments such as Prozac, Wellbutrin, and anti-depressants in general, were among the least effective, according to the study. These are all treatments suggested and reported by patients, so some redundancy in the terms used is to be expected. In addition, the term “treatment” in this study refers to anything patients describe using to help them feel better whether it is an offically prescribed medical treatment or not.

Most Effective Rated Treatments for People with Bipolar Disorder

1. Regimented sleep
2. Reduce alcohol
3. Exercise
4. Lamictal
5. Sunlight
6. Yoga
7. Psychotherapy
8. Mindfulness meditation
9. Small, frequent snacks
10. Self-tracking

More than five million Americans are affected by bipolar disorder every year, and two-thirds of people with this disorder have at least one close relative with the illness or with major depression — evidence that the disease has a heritable component. Finding treatments that work well can be a challenge, so CureTogether asked people suffering from Bipolar Disorder to rate the effectiveness of different treatments.

CureTogether’s study compiled responses from 301 people with Bipolar Disorder, who rated the effectiveness of 45 different treatments. Among the most helpful treatments were yoga, mindfulness meditation, sunlight, and the drug Lamictal. Also highly effective for those in the study were journaling and self-tracking. The people in the study also said that Celexa, Abilify, and Risperdal — all prescription drugs — were not as effective, and were reported to actually make the condition worse.

Where did this data come from? This is the result of a four-year CureTogether study on Bipolar Disorder, in which people living with the condition shared information about their symptoms and what treatments worked best for them. We’d like to thank those who participated. And just as they shared their experience with treatments, we’re freely and openly sharing the results of the Bipolar study.

This is part of a regular series of CureTogether research findings. CureTogether’s research findings are different than those made by 23andMe, which look at genetic associations with illness, traits and drug response. But as we continue our work with the CureTogether community, 23andMe hopes to incorporate more of this kind of self-reported information into our own research. CureTogether present its findings just as they are — patient-reported data — to stimulate discussion and generate new insights for further research.”


“What Is Bipolar Disorder? As lived by MB at Living as a Bipolar Mom” from “My Daily Jenn-ism”

23 Mar


The next time someone asks you what bipolar disorder is or why you can’t just shake off your moods, make them read this. It sums it up nicely.

(Yeah, I know, I’m posting a link to a guest blogger on someone else’s blog. Welcome to the wubulous World Wide Web.)

New Study Finds High Rate of Bipolar Disorder in Postpartum Depression

19 Mar
from NAMI’s website; by Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations:

The largest study to date of postpartum depression has found that one in seven women experience symptoms of depression after childbirth.

Published in JAMA Psychiatry by theAmerican MedicalAssociation, the basic finding is consistent with past prevalence estimates however, the study’s follow-up evaluations of women at risk revealed especially serious symptoms.

Approximately 20 percent of the mothers with depressive symptoms were experiencing suicidal thoughts. Among those who were followed for a full year, 22 percent experienced severe depression.

In the study, 10,000 mothers who gave birth at a Pittsburgh hospital were contacted by telephone and screened six to eight months later for symptoms of depression. Fourteen percent were identified as being at risk. Approximately 60 percent of the at-risk group received follow-up home visits. Another 11 percent completed diagnostic interviews by telephone

Forty percent of the women’ symptoms began postpartum. Thirty-three percent were assessed as having begun during pregnancy and 27 percent beforehand. Follow-up evaluations most often resulted in a diagnosis of depression with a co-occurring anxiety disorder.

“A striking 22.6 percent had bipolar disorder,” the study warned.

The study calls for all pregnant women and new mothers to be screened for depression, beyond what current medical practice requires. It also emphasizes the need for “strategies to differentiate women with bipolar from unipolar disorders.”


psycheducation.com–FANTASTIC web resource for bipolar disorder

14 Mar


A progressive psychiatrist at the Cascadia clinic recommended this site to me, and it is marvelous. For all you DSM haters out there, you’ll be pleased to know that a psychiatrist at Harvard developed another diagnostic instrument called the Bipolarity Index. This views affective disorders on a spectrum and uses a self-guided point system to help identify your place on it–a huge improvement over the checklists, black-or-white thinking, and doctor-patient power differential espoused by the DSM.

It’s easy to hate on psychiatry. Every single person I know with mental health issues has at least one horror story about a psychiatrist who messed them up even more through misdiagnosis, over-medicating them, or both. We bipolar folks may have a more antagonistic relationship to psychiatry than others because we are so often misdiagnosed; A survey taken by The Guardian in 2012 found that the average length of time between the onset of bipolar disorder and accurate diagnosis is thirteen years. (It was sixteen for me, and another year after that before a doctor recognized my PTSD.)


However, I am convinced that the author of psycheducation.org, a Doctor Jim Phelps, is one of the good guys. I may be biased because I like his down-to-earth writing style, but beyond that this is an extremely helpful and comprehensive resource. The site is chock full of info about new and emerging research in illness and treatment. It includes tips for non-pharmaceutical treatment methods (hello Omega-3’s!) and Dr. Phelps isn’t shy about sharing his own critiques of mainstream psychiatry. I highly recommend it.

“No Longer Silent: Man with Bipolar Disorder Speaks Up about His Illness, Inspiring Others” by Loren Grush

14 Mar
From foxnews.com:

“Just two days after moving to California for a job transfer, [Logan] Noone nonchalantly told his new Craigslist roommates his biggest secret – that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Then something incredible happened.

Nothing changed.

His roommates did not discriminate against him and embraced Noone for who he was.

“I’ve been able to teach them what bipolar disorder is and change their misconceptions about it,” Noone said. “…They also taught me the lesson that I’m just a normal guy, and I can still fit in with everyone else. We all have something wrong with us; no one’s DNA is perfect.”

Since then, Noone has purposefully gone against the ‘keep quiet’ mentality, making the choice to step up and speak out about his experience with mental illness. Having recently been hired by the California Speakers Bureau, Noone travels to different colleges throughout the state, giving speeches about his life story and how people can help erase the stigma surrounding mental illness. He has since posted a video of his speech on YouTube, which is quickly gathering views and enormous support.

Now, Noone and others are poised on the brink of what they are calling a mental health civil rights movement, aimed at encouraging those with mental illness to break their silence and talk about their experiences as something positive – and not something to hide.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/03/07/no-longer-silent-man-with-bipolar-disorder-speaks-up-about-his-illness-and/#ixzz2NXqzwpx7


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