breakdown of the middle ground.

A Table For Bipolar Plus One Please.

First let me explain my motivation for this post. It was ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. On recent episodes they’ve incorporated the presence of a doctor who is autistic; more specifically has Asperser’s Syndrome. This form of autism is particularly fascinating because whereas autistic children have social and communication impairments, a person with Asperser’s Syndrome excels in one isolated outlet, above and beyond normal abilities.

It’s like they’re especially gifted in just one area, and then more than behind in every other area. That got me to thinking if an autistic person could also be bipolar? What would that look like?

An immediate internet search lead me to an online letter written to a doctor from a married couple who both are diagnosed bipolar and they’re child that exhibiting early signs of autistic behavior. They were asking could their child possess overlapping traits. Okay, so I’m not the first person to wonder this.

Following that thought I begun thinking about my cousin who has ADHD, and my friends who have co-workers that have OCD. I completely had disorders on the brain, with the underlying question remaining-could people be both? And what would that look like?

This posting is what I learned from an awesome book called Bipolar Kids, by Rosalie Greenberg M.D.

The first thing she explained was that if someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, chances are good that they will be diagnosed with something else. So it is possible!

Its comorbidity-a medical term that literally means co-morbidity. It’s the presence of one or more disorders in addition to a primary disorder. The bipolar disorder shares overlapping symptoms most commonly with:

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)

SAD (separation anxiety disorder)

And ASD (Autistic spectrum disorder)

Dr. Greenberg has a personal rule of thumb that she explains in her book, involving treating the bipolar disorder first, then see what falls away…and what remains. Treating the mood disorder may decrease the appearance of the symptoms of the comorbid disorder. A correct diagnose is more than crucial, and why it can be all the more challenging. Mental disorders are unfortunately illnesses that in addition to requiring psychological treatment, they also incorporate the use of medical drug treatments-yet blood work and other scientific tests aren’t used in identifying procedures. On top of that one drug that may help with one aspect could do nothing for the other, or even intensify it. And all of the disorders may have causes of effect that set these behaviors into motion. Defining behavioral symptoms sounds like it’s complicated, and if those symptoms are overlapping…YIKES!

If you’re curious to what these dual disorders might look like, here are some examples:

Bipolar + OCD: When in theses particular disorder conjunction rituals and routines are often mood related. When depressed a person may have to repeat the same action several times like tying their shoes over and over like 8 times. Yet when they’re stable, they may only repeat their actions maybe three times. Or when they’re in mania, the basically neat person could go into overdrive and everything has to be just a certain way, done at a certain time, etc.

Bipolar+ ADHD: These disorders share the symptoms of inattention, over activity, and impulsivity, and they are the most commonly confused disorders. When mood variations are brought into the playing field, a mania episode in a person for example may cause them to easily be distracted from possessing too many thoughts, outrageous in their decision making and sexual behavior, and have a hard time staying still. But then it looks almost the opposite when they’re in depression. I’m confused already and I just wrote that…

Bipolar + SAD: Bipolar mood swings coupled with this disorder can trigger increased anxiety over separation from an attached figure. This is usually prevalent depressive eposides. So a child that is scared to sleep alone, may make it through the night in their own bed at a friend’s house when their mood has been stabilized.

Bipolar + ASD: When experiencing unstable episodes he or she may show higher levels of preoccupations, which is a defining characteristic of autism. So little Bobby’s mood that has been triggered by a bipolar episode, has caused him to just want to do play with dinosaur toys and if he doesn’t he goes ballistic—but  at the same time he’s unable to readjust his mood even though he’s doing what he wants.

It’s complicated. This has been a really simple, broad, exposure addressing the topic at hand. Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with the reminder: EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, just because they don’t have 100% of every thing going on or variations of the said behaviors, doesn’t negate the involvement of a treatable mental illness. And simply addressing the bipolar aspect is not a complete cure all because these are varying valid disorders with varying effective medicines.

Knowledge can begat the correct course of action for treatment where the goal is finding a way to make life more livable for themselves and others.

—Posted By Eliza Barnett


Filed under: bi-polar, Eliza Barnett

One Response

  1. […] A Table For Bipolar Plus One Please. B […]

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