AnnieS asked this question on 5/2/2000:
Hi, I'm a 36 year old female with a history of drug and alcohol abuse(12-25), several dysfunctional relationships, Sexual abuse(11), rape(21). I have been clean and sober for the past 11 years, gone through extensive psychotherapy(of which I found to be very benificial), I was relationship-less for 5 years and became quite sucessful and independent throughout that time. My question is this: up until very recently I believed, (and have been diagnosed with), Major Depression. I remember feeling depressed as far back as I can remember. My mother describes my moods like this, "you're up & down, up & down." My best friend of 34 years has always sworn I was Bipolar, and everyone else I know is always saying, "you're so moody." Until very recently, I wouldn't even entertain the idea of being Bipolar, (nor would the therapists), because of what I, and they, thought to be, an absence of manic episodes. I hang on to my "happy times" for dear life. They don't last long, and I'm never sure why they're there. But until recently, I never questioned the lack of reason, I just grabbed on to these very brief periods and enjoyed them while I had them. However, recently I have become more aware of these times because I am unable to sleep for very long during these times, I fall asleep for a few hours, awake, and am unable to get back to sleep. That's if I'm even able to get to sleep much before dawn. I've also noticed that I can be feeling happy one moment and have it turn into extreme irritability the next. Irritability to the point of being enraged. I'm over active, easily distracted, almost foggy or hazey at times. Recently I read about Biploar II. Do you think there's a possibility that I have this type of Bipolar? I feel like I'm on a mood roller coaster much of the time, and swing in and out of these moods so rapidly sometimes that I have difficulty distinguishing how I truly feel about most everything. It leaves me feeling very indecisive and confused. There doesn't seem to be any apparent reason for these shifts in mood. Up until now I've refused medication for the depression for fear of becoming active in my addictions again, but am returning to therapy to explore the possibility of meds, as the depression has become much more severe over the past two years, and I'm not sure I can handle it without the meds any longer. I intend to discuss the possibility of Bipolar with my new psychologist, but would like as many opinions, and as much input as I can get before I go. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreciated, and to all of you that have already answered me; Thank You so much!!!! Annie S.
Desertphile gave this response on 5/4/2000:
Howdy. Please note that I am NOT a doctor!
What you describe sounds very much like "bi-polar" (i.e., manic depressive, i.e. "rapid cycling) to me. Please note manic depressive illness often starts out "mild" and increases in both frequency and intensity. This is called the "kindling effect," and that is something you will very much want to discuss with your psychiatrist. The sooner treatment is acquired, the less the illness will progress.
The kindling effect: Often a "bipolar" individual will experience "shallow" highs and lows as symptoms of the illness. As the illness progresses, the "hights" are higher and the "lows" are lower. The cycle gets faster, and the mood swings get out of control.
Fortunatel, there are pharmotherapies available that can put a "bottom" to those "lows" and if you are what's called a "good responder," recovery is very much possible.
As for restimulating your addiction, the SSRI family of anti-depressants show no sign of addiction as far as my resrach has shown. I could be wrong obviously, but I think the chance of addiction to Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and the others is nearly ZERO. I've seen no evidence to suggest otherwise.
Drug addiction is in my opinion a sign of depression coupled with the hedonic feed-back loop typical in most animals. "Self-medication" is common in all the apes (of which humans belong). Given unlimited amounts of alcohol, some monkeys will drink in great excess while most will avoid it or drink very little. It's a good argument for the belief that alcoholism is in part genetically linked. Some people just "need" more hedonic stimulus than others in order to live.
Anti-depressants will move that self-destructive nedonic need to a more "normal" (less self- destrustive) spot on the continuum between illness and wellness.
Please discuss these issues with your psychotheraposts / psychiatrist, and please do take your doctor's advice if she or he advises medication.
I also suggest that if you are female, talk to your ObGyn and ask about the wild mood swings. Even though in my lay opinion (again, I am NOT a doctor!) you are experiencing manic depressive disorder, it could be "female trouble" and a ObGyn might offer good advice.
The average rating for this answer is 5.
AnnieS rated this answer a 5.
Thanks for your input, it was quite informative. Annie S.