Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A new disorder?

My experience this week with an unstable bipolar patient has me thinking about the disorder. Bipolar disorder refers to a mood disorder in which patients experience not only severe depressions, but also episodes of mania. Mania is difficult to understand if you haven't seen it, and is truly remarkable.

You know those days where you feel like you can do anything, conquer the world? If you take your most energetic day, multiply by 10, and then snort cocaine, you've got mania. People in manic episodes can't sleep, get very delusional ("I'm the president"), and make very impulsive decisions, like spending thousands of dollars in a day. It can be a debilitating disorder. Seeing a person in an acute manic episode is awe-inspiring, if you use awe in a "holy sh*t" kind of way. I have a lot of respect for it as a disorder, the way a surgeon has respect for dead bowel.

There are a lot of people diagnosed as bipolar whom I find very non-awe-inspiring. They're impulsive. They do the things the rest of us think about but don't do, like tell off the boss, run up their credit card bills, get into barfights. The dumbasses of the world. They can't maintain relationships, keep jobs, save money, or raise their kids. In a nutshell, they act like your average teenager, well after the time when that behavior is developmentally appropriate. (This is also a good time to point out that I highly object to the frequency with which teenagers are diagnosed as bipolar.)

Now, I'm no psychiatrist, but it seems like there's a HUGE difference between these two patient populations. Shouldn't we be calling them something different?

Here's your chance, readers (all 3 of you). I propose DDMD - Dumb-Assed Decision Making Disorder.

Let's get some input! C'mon, show me some love. I don't want to have to name names.


Anonymous said...

Btw...although I'm reader #1, I am a daily-dedicated reader.

My two cents, which doesn't amount to much b/c I don't know jack about the medical field/profession. I feel as though bipolar is over-diagnosed. And historically, hasn't this always happened. Similar to when lobotomies were used as common as one spreads butter on their bread. (Speaking of...have you ever seen a lobotomy performed and are they still used today?!) There are people that I knew fairly well that are now suddenly being diagnosed with bipolar. These are people that I worked with 14 hours a day 5 days a week for 2.5 years. You would think I'd notice some of these symtoms. I also assume that bipolar disorder is a result of a neurochemical imbalance so it wouldn't necessarily just begin at age 37...right? Personally, I don't think this person is bipolar. Nor is the other-family-member who was "diagnosed" with bipolar (wink...although age was the factor there). In both of these cases, I think this "new disorder" should be called "don't like my present life situation so I am going to act out about it"...oh what...that's one heck of an acronym!

Just Me said...

First, I'm so sorry about your loss. Words don't say anything right so that's all I'll say.

oh it's so good to see this on someone's blog. I'm severely BPI with predominantly severe mixed episodes. When I'm sick I'm really, really sick. I'm doing miraculously well right now after many years of trying to find the elusive drug combination that helped but my life is still restricted.

I hate that so many people are diagnosed with bipolar who do NOT have the same disorder I have. Of all the things to hate of my disorder, this is what I hate the most.