Thursday, April 20, 2017
I Wish People Were Better Informed about Bipolar Disorder
There is an author I've followed on Facebook whose books I like, and I think has some personal experience with mental illness in their own family, but they've ended up with opinions on topics from autism to bipolar disorder that are so utterly uninformed and depressing, that I am seriously thinking of unfollowing them, no matter how much I like their work. I get so tired of the autism and vaccine bullshit, but it keeps being another piece of non-science I'll see on this far-reaching Facebook page...
Earlier this week, that particular author posted about how it might be possible people, especially teens, are misdiagnosed as bipolar when they're trying to really compensate and put people at ease by faking being happy. Essentially, the idea that a patient seems to "flip" to manic in a short period by just resolving suddenly to put on a "brave face."
It doesn't work that way. Honestly, people who are bipolar are more likely to be misdiagnosed initially as unipolar (depressed). It happens for a few reasons. Medical professionals are fairly conservative with diagnosing people under eighteen with psychiatric conditions for one. Second, symptoms in children sometimes look different than they would present in adults. Third, a more common protocol is to start with therapy first, then to add meds if they seem needed and to usually start with an antidepressant. If those meds don't seem to be working, then other types and classes of drugs usually get considered (this is from my patient self's experience so your mileage may vary).
However, one thing that does happen is if a child or a new patient really is bipolar, then being on an antidepressant will affect their brain chemistry in such a way as to trigger them into a manic episode. This happened to me as a teen because I was started on an SSRI and then I had a big manic phase culminating with quite the outburst at school. It was then I changed doctors and eventually found one who would try mood stabilizers.
Overall, I think it's more the order is reversed. New patients are given the wrong medication that eventually flips their mood and they then are properly diagnosed afterwards.
Anyway, my point overall is that I hate feeling like I want to follow someone cause of their work but as I do, I realize they're not necessarily a nice person who tends to be spreading huge misinformation about conditions and a general ax to grind with most established mental health stuff. It's confusing. I guess it's all a risk authors and creatives also take when opening up ourselves on social media as well. I also just hope people realize that it's extremely unlikely that a patient will be misdiagnosed as bipolar because they've been acting so-called happier to compensate for things. That's really not how it works.
If people have questions about bipolar disorder, seriously, as a patient and as someone who's worked toward a Ph.D. in psychology, I can point you to resources. If you need a sensitivity reader or a place to start to create realistic characters struggling with mental illness, I'd be happy to help.
Sighs, I just wish people didn't spread misinformation that just ends up hurting people :(
(regular posting resumes tomorrow night late/Saturday with my next review)
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