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Old 07-09-2009, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Virginia
6,530 posts, read 9,020,161 times
Reputation: 3050
Default Can it really be this "Simple"?? She's Bipolar, NOT depressed?

First, thanks to Trust Him for his thread on adult children of bipolar parents. It really opened my eyes and made me see and potentially realize what's been going on with my mother for close to 20 years now...

Fast background... My mother has been a part of AA for close to 15 years now. Off and on she's had success and quit drinking for 7 years but even during this period she never seemed quite right.... She self-diagnosed herself as an alcoholic, she had a few psychiatrists diagnose her as having depression, OR anxiety disorder and she's been treated and on meds for both...

In this period of time she's gotten herself into hopeless debt, has no job, no health insurance, etc...

So a quick inventory check: She's been going to AA, taking prozac and taking sleep meds and NONE of it works..... She is drinking still (which I'm now beginning to believe is self-medicating)...

Well it occured to me after reading your thread the other day to look up some things on Bipolar Disorder and WHOAH!!!! Hand in glove!!!!

My mother has periods of time where she's highly motivated and tries to do everything she can to:

1) Get a job/Appy for jobs
2) File for Medicaid
3) File for SSI
4) File for unemployment
5) File for Bankruptcy

Well shoot, any ONE of these things can stress out the average person, but try all five needing to be done (or a combination of 3 or 4 of them anyway as one cannot collect SSI while working, etc...)....

So anyway, she has periods of time where she's gung-ho and positive and works toward these things... This is almost always followed by a complete and utter collapse into depression and drinking and feeling useless, etc....

Well, looking up things I've discovered that I think she's bipolar and been misdiagnosed as depressed.... I mean let's look at it:

1) Severe mood swings - check
2) Periods of sleeplessness or anxiety - check
3) Periods of severe depression - check
4) Self-medicating with alcohol - check

I mean am I missing something??? Or does this sound pretty cut and dried??

I'm almost crying over this because for years she's been having every SYMPTOM treated, but not, what I now believe to be, the root cause...

She's been on prozac for a LONG time (and from what I'm reading anti-depressants are a pretty major No-No for bipolar people).

She's been going to AA to stop drinking.

She's had her family trying to help her get jobs to get her life back on track.

And EVERYONE has been wondering why she continuously fails at all of it....

Does it sound like I'm right??? If so, what are the prospects?? She doesn't get angry or dangerous ever like some people I saw in the other thread, she's just either up, or REALLY down.....

I'm actually kind of excited that we may finally be on a road toward a resolution if I can just get a psychiatrist to give her what I think is the proper diagnosis and treat her accordingly....

She has an appointment today with one and I told her outright to TELL the guy that "My son believes I am bipolar" and to have him call me if there's any questions....

Here's hoping.....
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Old 07-09-2009, 09:41 PM
 
Location: Virginia
6,530 posts, read 9,020,161 times
Reputation: 3050
Geez guys.... Now isn't a time for silence here. I'm no expert.

They sent her home today with a mild tranquilizer..... Now correct me if I'm wrong, but if an anti-depressant isn't correct for bipolar, I don't see how this would be either.... They seem to keep treating her symptoms and not the problem.....

This is my 60 year old mother who is living with myself, my wife and a 5 year old and a 1 year old.... ANY advice would be nice...
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:05 PM
'M'
 
Location: Glendale Country Club
1,433 posts, read 1,431,391 times
Reputation: 1942
Rhett...your mom does sound like a classic bipolar case. One of the most important issues with bipolar patients is that they MUST arrest any addictions/alcoholism in order to effectively be treated for bipolar illness. There are MANY AA's with bipolar illness. It's important that she keep going to AA. Can you get your mother into a mental health center? There are other income-based programs besides Medicaid that would give her a break based on her income, or lack of income. These other programs can approve someone much more quickly than Medicaid, although they may not pay as much, and she can use it until Medicaid and Medicare are established. Could she get Medicare to declare her disabled so she can also receive Medicare? I'd look in the phone book under Mental Health and see if there are some centers she could go to who'd treat her based on her inability to pay. A center like this will get her on the appropriate meds for her bipolar illness. HTH...and God Bless!!!
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:14 PM
 
Location: Virginia
6,530 posts, read 9,020,161 times
Reputation: 3050
Thanks, I'll see what I can do.... As far as AA is concerned, it's gotten to a point where she finds it depressing and from what I hear on how these groups she's attending are run, I can see why she'd feel that way... I think she needs to have the bipolar issue medicated before we send her back to AA to keep her off the alcohol..... (Maybe I'm hoping against hope that with proper treatment AA won't be necessary).

Thank you for advice on other potential mental health center programs.... I'll look into it....
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Old 07-11-2009, 01:16 AM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
16,296 posts, read 30,055,982 times
Reputation: 12159
Most people with bipolar disorder crash and burn several times before they are diagnosed, which is usually in their late 30s-early 40s. Your mom is well past that age, so she would be unusual in that respect. But it does seem like bipolar might be an appropriate disgnosis for her. Next time, go with her to the doctor.
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Old 07-11-2009, 04:45 AM
 
Location: Kenmore, WA
6,847 posts, read 3,428,111 times
Reputation: 9522
RB;

I don't have personal experience with BP, but I do know from a friend's explanation that depression is definitely a symptom. I do know from my own experience that drinking to excess can be a "self-medication" and AA meetings are not helpful to people that drink too much, but are not alcoholics.

If your mother is living with you -- at your expense, might it be less expensive to pay for a specialist to see her -- and diagnose her? If you/she cannot continue with that doctor's care, at least you would be armed with the diagnosis of a professional, rather than rely on a forum.

Just a thought. Best wishes to you and yours.
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Old 07-11-2009, 07:23 AM
 
Location: NJ
7,108 posts, read 13,479,726 times
Reputation: 3798
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhett_Butler View Post
So a quick inventory check: She's been going to AA, taking prozac and taking sleep meds and NONE of it works..... She is drinking still (which I'm now beginning to believe is self-medicating)...

Well it occured to me after reading your thread the other day to look up some things on Bipolar Disorder and WHOAH!!!! Hand in glove!!!!

So anyway, she has periods of time where she's gung-ho and positive and works toward these things... This is almost always followed by a complete and utter collapse into depression and drinking and feeling useless, etc....

Well, looking up things I've discovered that I think she's bipolar and been misdiagnosed as depressed.... I mean let's look at it:

1) Severe mood swings - check
2) Periods of sleeplessness or anxiety - check
3) Periods of severe depression - check
4) Self-medicating with alcohol - check

I mean am I missing something??? Or does this sound pretty cut and dried??

I'm almost crying over this because for years she's been having every SYMPTOM treated, but not, what I now believe to be, the root cause...

She's been on prozac for a LONG time (and from what I'm reading anti-depressants are a pretty major No-No for bipolar people).


She has an appointment today with one and I told her outright to TELL the guy that "My son believes I am bipolar" and to have him call me if there's any questions....
How old is she?
My guess is she's having hormone issues - perimenopause / menopause.

Google bipolar, at the main site there is a check list.
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Old 07-11-2009, 07:32 AM
 
Location: Boca Raton
9,342 posts, read 16,223,779 times
Reputation: 9031
Google dual diagnosis- bipolar/ drug and alcohol. There seem to be two major schools of thought on how best to treat.

If her doctor is discounting the possibility of a diagnosis of bipolar, maybe try another doc. Since bipolar is a spectrum, some docs just don't see it, but instead go the "depression" route. It took my friend's brother a number of docs until he found one that didn't just medicate the heck out of him and tell him to go to AA, but actually took a conservative approach medically and included ongoing talk therapy, in addition to supporting AA attendance.
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Old 07-11-2009, 04:34 PM
 
Location: So Ca
5,209 posts, read 4,986,420 times
Reputation: 3842
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roselvr View Post
My guess is she's having hormone issues - perimenopause / menopause.
It doesn't sound like it if she's 60 years old and the OP has seen her deal with this for over 15 years. My niece has Bioplar II (less severe than Bipolar I). The following is a helpful site for family members. Also, to the OP: your mother probably has used alcohol to self medicate (not uncommon with Bipolar patients) and this, of course, exacerbates her problems. Best of luck to you.

http://www.bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a107.htm
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:30 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
9,854 posts, read 7,260,922 times
Reputation: 8127
Most bp2 people are diagnosed as having major depression first. You add an anti-depressent and as long as it doesn't kick them into mania the doctor just keeps upping the dose. Then the cycling goes from less depressed to more depressed to depressed to manic and if your lucky and the doctor sees the mania, they might rediagnose you. I believe its an average of about ten years before a proper diagnosis is made.

Anti-depressents are not a no-no, especially with bp2. It tends to run towards depression. But a mood stabilizer must happen first. This slows and controls the cycling so an ad can be added. It doesn't sound like your mother has had a mania of the kind with psychotic overtones, where all those things she did are impossible. But if you've observed cycles for that many years she is not just depressed.

Good advise to try a new doctor. When I was still officially in "major depression" my therapist noticed I'd come in as if I was a completely different person sometimes and we talked about it. It was her thought that I was bp, but she was only a therapist. When I changed to the county program, my new doc did his own from scrach evaluation as did social security. From their exam along I was dxed as bp by both. You have to find the right doctor who isn't stuck in the what has been.

You also need to find a group which deals with dual diagnosis, which in essense is a combination of bp and addiction. Often the self medication is so much more powerful than the meds the person relys on it more than just as an addiction. If your mom is not drinking, establishing a mood control drug would be a base for everything else. If she is both need to be in the mix.

There is an organization called the DBSA which I reccomend you get in touch with. It stand for the Depressive and Bipolar Alliance, but is a self help group for famililies and patients. The meetings are private, and not affiliated with anyone "official". There is always someone who has a lot of community resourses to get in touch with.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: Improving the Lives of People Living with Mood Disorders

Try to get your mom to go too. She will find a lot of support and people who will listen and understand as well.

Hang in there. But be proactive because its easy for people to get lost in the mix.

Remember that a lot of doctors don't see the spectrum. They see the patient sitting in the chair across from them in their office. That they may have been crying hysterically the day before or deep in mania the day before that is not observed. See if you can go with her for at least one appointment and talk to the doctor about what you have observed. And quite honestly, once your "in the system" some doctors have the perscription halfway written out as you walk in the door so they are only running an hour late, especially when dealing with county and medicade type programs. So if she cannot advocate for herself, you need to.

With her age, she needs to have her thyroid and hormone levels tested as well. These will not create the cycles, but can have a major negative impact on them.

I'm grateful for the thread that got you to thinking too. And thank you for being there for mom.
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