Do I Really Have Bipolar Disorder?

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • Have you wondered about this? I have, on occasion, but usually I think my diagnosis is correct. If you're wondering, though, here are some things to think about.

    • Have you had a complete physical examination that includes looking for other illnesses that can cause mood swings and, if relevant, hallucinations or other psychotic symptoms?

    • Do you have periods when your mood is normal but you are having hallucinations or delusions? You might have schizoaffective disorder.

    • Are all your manic or hypomanic moods triggered by antidepressants? The American Psychiatric Association is planning to add this category to the definition of bipolar disorder.

    • Do you have clearly defined periods of mania or hypomania and depression? If so, why do you doubt your diagnosis?

    Some people just can't bear to think that they have bipolar disorder in spite of having all the symptoms and deeply want to find another explanation for what's happening. If this is a serious problem for you, you need to find someone knowledgeable who will listen before speaking.

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    If people around you are telling you you don't have bipolar disorder, examine the source. Is it someone who can't bear the thought of your having a mental illness? Someone who doesn't want to believe it? Someone who is annoyed by your behavior and wants to blame it on you instead of your illness?

     

    There is also a condition called anosognosia where a person literally cannot recognize an illness they have. They don't see the symptoms, or don't see them as being a problem. Anosognosia may affect up to 40% of people with bipolar disorder.

     

    Keeping a mood chart may be extremely helpful to show you whether you are having mood swings or not. Bear in mind that if you cycle slowly, it may take months to see the true picture.

     

    If you are wondering about your diagnosis, talk about your uncertainty to all your doctors and therapists to get better insights.

Published On: November 29, 2012