In the eighties Ritalin and ADD or ADHD was the buzz word. If something seemed not quite right with a child or an adult, with certain symptoms or display of a certain pattern of behavior, it must be one or the other and the medication of choice was Ritalin or Depakote.
Now, it you seem to have mood swings, you must be bipolar. I find it offensive for someone to easily say that someone is bipolar because they exhibit one symptom: mood swings. Bipolar is more than mood swings or rage.
According to a pamphlet from DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) titled Introduction to Depression and Bipolar, they write:
More than a Mood Swing
Bipolar disorder is a treatable medical illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. It is also known as manic depression because a person’s mood can alternate between mania and depression. This change in mood (or “mood swing”) can last for hours, days, weeks or even months.”
So you see, just because person’s mood seems to be changing and it might for the moment, bipolar mood swings are quite different. They last for more than a moment and go from one end of the spectrum to the other. It doesn’t always go to the end of the pole in either direction, however, it does last for more than just that moment or just that instance.
Because a person is depressed does not mean they have bipolar and are at the depression end of the spectrum either. They could be depressed due to circumstances: the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, hearing bad news, etc. Depression from any of these circumstances can last for days or weeks. But the person can still be somewhat functional. As time goes on, sometimes with short-term medication and some counseling (or maybe not), the person starts to feel better.
Bipolar depression is different. There is no particular cause. It can last for weeks or months (or it may not- in the case of mixed episodes). It is a prolonged sadness. There are other signs as well. Loss of energy, persistent lethargy. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and or hopelessness. There may be a lack of concentration or focus. May not be able to read a book. The concentration is off. May lose interest in things you used to enjoy doing. Just don’t have a desire to do anything. There may even be recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
These signs point to the need to seek professional help. #1 to see if it is depression that is due to circumstances or if it is something that needs to be treated long term. #2 To see if it is on the bipolar pole of depression. Only through counsel with a mental health professional can you be sure.
One thing to do no matter what: if you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, get help immediately. Even if you have not made an attempt. Just having recurring thoughts, means you need to talk to someone professional.
Some phone numbers that should be posted somewhere you can get to them quickly are ER personnel, a doctor, the poision control center and your state or the national suicide hotline number.
If anything, people need to stop blaming bipolar on everything. That is not always the case and labeling people bipolar because of isolated behavior or mood swings is just outright wrong. If you that is the case, encourage the person to seek out professional help and get a correct diagnosis and treatment.
You can get a wealth of information for bipolar and depression as well as literature on the subject from the dbsalliance.org
They are national and have support groups in every state. If there is not one near you, they encourage you to start one.
love to all