Asked by Anton
Can A Car Accident Create Bipolar Disorder?
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder approximately 4-5 months after being involved in a car accident. A driver did not see me and slammed right into me--often called a T-bone accident. While I did have signs of bipolar disorder before the accident, since my diagnosis and the subsequent medical trials I have experienced from doctors, my life has really taken a turn for the worse in the past two years. Upon reflection from this two year vantage point, it seems I was more manic on a high before the accident a lot of the time, but then I had about a 2 day down period every six months or so. After the accident I go days, weeks, months on a low--even with attempts at medication. I wondered if there was a connection?
Hi, Anton. I can only suggest a couple of possiblities, which is not the same is saying what really happened in your brain:
1. Stress and trauma can often trigger mental illness such as bipolar. Psychiatry acknowledges this as a common risk factor. Your brain was literally mugged. The accident and its aftermath overloaded your emotional circuitry, which hasn't reset to normal. Your brain can heal, but you need to give it time, lots of time.
2. You may have also suffered from subtle physical brain damage that a brain scan might not be able to pick up. A woman I met at a mental health conference described to me how she was hit by a truck. The docs misdiagnosed her with every mental illness going. She did her research and was ultimately successful in getting treatment for something called diffuse axonal injury. The impact of the collision literally sheared off the sheath to axonal extensions projecting from neurons, throwing entire brain networks off-line. Eventually, though, her brain started physically mending. And she also picked up coping skills.
Either way, the brain is a physical organ. When damaged, like any physical organ, it needs time to mend Hopefully, over time, the severity of your symptoms will abate. But you need to cope with what is going on right now with smart meds strategies and recovery techniques.
Hope this helps -