lack of a predictable mood over which you have no control is the hallmark of this disease

Bipolar mood disorder is a condition characterized by a “dysregulation” of one’s mood or as I sometimes describe it, “MOOD INSTABILITY”.  Simply put, it means that the mood you wake up with may not be the mood you experience throughout your day.  For someone suffering from untreated Bipolar Disorder, one can wake up feeling down, depressed and then for no reason, an angry, impulsive or irritable mood erupts – and you can’t stop it from happening.  This may continue for some time, resolve on its own, or sink you back into a depression.  This lack of a predictable mood over which you have no control is the hallmark of this disease.  The classic mood known as ‘mania’ where out of control euphoria occurs along with excessive behaviors, racing thoughts, extended periods of sleeplessness and rapid, intense speech is just one type of Bipolar Disorder.  Because many people think that this type of ‘mania’ must be present for the diagnosis, they have not been properly diagnosed or treated if they present with other symptoms which also meet the criteria of a type of Bipolar Disorder.

Even more devastating is the fact that this condition can begin in adolescence and seem to be just  an “angry, out of control teenager” who makes everyone around him/her miserable. Too often this diagnosis is missed and those years between 12 and the early 20s are spent in misery – trying to cope, feeling badly about one’s inability to manage their lives and ultimately turning to drugs, alcohol or even suicide to cope with this misery.

Treatment works with this condition as with every psychiatric illness.  The challenge is to be able to find the right  psychiatrist who spends enough time with you to review your history, symptoms, treatment options and how best to approach your specific situation.  This is a very serious condition and should be managed as seriously as any other medical condition and finding good care is not always easy.

There are many, many outstanding and physician/psychiatrists available for treatment.  However, there are many, many reasons why people do not get good or competent care.  Insurance may not cover extended time with the psychiatrist.  Many good psychiatrists have opted out of health care plans which DO NOT allow them to practice comprehensive psychiatry, including spending extended time with the patient.

Ultimately, I encourage you, if you feel you either need treatment or have not received successful treatment, to continue to search for that doctor who understands your situation and provides treatment which is actually resulting in the control of the disease.