Bipolar And Genetic Testing
I dont know about you, but getting a proper diagnosis for bipolar disorder was an exhausting journey. Admittedly, on some days , I still question if I have this debilitating illness.
Of course, when bipolar depression rears its ugly head again and it always does I know with certainty that I do, indeed, live with bipolar disorder. Nevertheless, in the many years that preceded my diagnosis, I could never seem to find a doctor or therapist who could tell me exactly what was wrong with me.
After seeing a number of doctors and therapists, I finally took an extensive written test , discussed my symptoms, and provided a family medical history. With that information, a psychologist diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. In spite of all the recent advancements with genetic testing, I believe this is the most effective way to determine if you have this illness.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder
Doctors and scientists don’t know the exact cause of bipolar disorder, but they think that biochemical, genetic, and may all be involved. It’s believed this condition is caused by imbalances in certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. If the neurotransmitters aren’t in balance, the brain’s mood-regulating system won’t work the way it should.
Genes also play a role. If a close relative has bipolar disorder, a person’s risk of developing the condition is higher. This doesn’t mean, though, that if you have a relative with bipolar disorder you will automatically develop it! Even in studies involving identical twins raised in the same home, one twin sometimes had bipolar disorder whereas the other did not. Researchers are now working on identifying the gene or genes involved in bipolar disorder.
Environmental factors may play a role in bipolar disorder. For some teens, stresses such as a death in the family, their parents’ divorce, or other traumatic events could trigger a first episode of mania or depression. Sometimes, going through the changes of puberty can set off an episode. In girls, symptoms can be tied to their monthly menstrual cycle.
Us Testing Vs Uk Bipolar Testing
The diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder is different in the UK from what is used in the US. Americans use the DSM-5, but the National Health Service uses ICD-10. It is the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, a medical classification list by the World Health Organization . You are more likely to test positive for bipolar in the UK because the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder is broader.
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Who Can Diagnose Borderline Personality Disorder
BPD is most often diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker, says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, both in New York City.
Bipolar Disorder Or Depression
Doctors sometimes find it hard to distinguish between bipolar disorder and depression, and this can lead to misdiagnosis. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help during a low mood because depression is more likely to have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. During a high mood, they may feel exceptionally well.
Factors that increase the chance of this happening include the following:
- Depression is the dominant mood.
- Depression is the first episode you have.
- You have experienced mania or hypomania but not realized it could be significant.
Its essential to get an accurate diagnosis in order to work out a treatment plan. Antidepressants may not be effective in treating bipolar disorder.
In addition, some antidepressant medications can trigger a first manic or hypomanic episode if youre susceptible to them, and this could complicate both treatment and the outcome.
If you go to see your doctor with depression, be sure to tell them about any of the following, as these can help get an accurate diagnosis:
- a family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions
- any other conditions that affect your mental or physical wellbeing
- any medications, drugs, or other substances youre taking or have used in the past
- if youve already tried antidepressants and they did not help
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What Can I Do If I Think A Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder
If you suspect that a loved one has bipolar disorder, talk with the person about your concerns. Ask if you can make a doctorâs appointment for the person and offer to accompany the person to the visit. Here are some tips:
Bring with you a summary of all medications that you are taking. Some medicines can have negative effects on mood and could play a part in understanding your symptoms.
Bipolar Depression Test: Bipolar Depression Quiz
This bipolar depression test may help you determine if you have the symptoms of bipolar depression. Please keep in mind, there are other illnesses and medications that can mimic the signs of bipolar disorder and bipolar depression. That’s why it’s important to discuss the results of the bipolar depression test with your doctor. Only a doctor or other mental health professional can diagnose bipolar depression.
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Things You Dont Know About Bipolar Disorder
The average persons knowledge of bipolar disorder often comes from movies, where patients are typically depicted in one of three ways:
1) Uber-creative and energeticthink Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.
2) Brilliant but paranoidMatt Damons character in The Informant.
3) Charmingly ineptas played by Mark Ruffalo in Infinitely Polar Bear.
Despite the protagonists mental health challenges, finding true love and a caring therapist usually leads to a cure at least in Hollywood.
In real life, bipolar disorder is a condition that has to be managed. About 2% of the populationor approximately 8.5 million Americanslive with bipolar disorder, the mental health condition once known as manic depression.
Its one of the most misunderstood and complex mental illnesses, and its among the 10 most debilitating noncommunicable diseases, according to the World Health Organization.
People living with bipolar disorder often have chaotic lives. They experience episodes of extreme elation and severe depression, cycling through moods and emotions that make it difficult to complete simple tasks or maintain lasting relationships.
Today, emerging research on the root causes of bipolar disorder have proven its an affliction, not a choice. Risk for bipolar may be carried by genes across generations, making some people susceptible and leaving others unaffected. Studies have found that genetic influence explains 60% to 85% of risk for the disorder.
Mental And Psychiatric Exam
Your doctor will also try to recommend you to a psychiatrist to check if you have any emotional problems and problematic behavioral patterns that may cause you to have bipolar disorder.
You will also be asked to have to answer a psychological questionnaire so they can assess and gather any specific information from you in order to evaluate the problems that you may have mentally.
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Interpreting Your Bipolar Test
Your results will make more sense if you understand the following bipolar basics:
Bipolar is about mood swings, and includes mania AND in most cases, depression. Some people do not experience depressive episodes and only go in and out of manic episodes, but episodes of depression are common.
Ask yourself these 3 critical threshold questions on bipolar symptoms first to check you have the THE UPS, THE DOWNS, and the in between episode periods that characterize bipolar disorder:
1.Have you had any significant depression that lasted at least 2 weeks and was so severe it made it difficult or impossible to function?
2. Do you experience ups as well as downs or just the ups?
3. Are your ups wired or hyper and not necessarily happy?
If you answered YES to these 3 questions, then you may consider a screening test for the possibility of mania.
That is, the point of screening is to check if you have the typical symptoms of mania such as racing thoughts, disrupted sleep, out of control spending, or sexual promiscuity or other impulsive risky behavior.
Usually the higher the score, the more likely it is you have experienced episodes of mania or hypomania .
This is just the beginning it is NOT a final diagnosis.
Remember, according to the experts:
Accurately diagnosing Bipolar Disorder is often not a straightforward matter. Many people go 10 years or more before their illness is accurately diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder.
A Lab Test For Bipolar Disorder
Several new findings have emerged, one of which comes very close to providing a noninvasive lab test for bipolar disorder.
Unlike schizophrenia, in which ventricular enlargement is a well-established anatomic finding, there are no clear anatomic findings in standard brain imaging in bipolar disorder . But new techniques in neuroimaging are providing clues about what is different in the brains of individuals with bipolar disorder.
Early functional imaging approaches included single photon emission computed tomography scans and positron emission tomography scans. Then came functional MRI . Because increased neuronal activity increases blood flow, that flow rate can be used to reflect which regions of the brain are active, relative to other regions, or relative to a resting state. Functional MRI can quantify and image cerebral blood flow rate in several ways.
Using fMRI, several regions of the brain have been consistently shown to function differently in people with bipolar disorder. In a masterful review, Mary Phillips and Holly Swartz of the University of Pittsburgh and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic summarized the main findings to date .1
Several new findings have emerged, one of which comes very close to providing a noninvasive lab test for bipolar disorder.
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How Accurate Is It
This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional or doctor.
Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.
Brain Structure And Function
Researchers are learning that the brain structure and function of people with bipolar disorder may be different from the brain structure and function of people who do not have bipolar disorder or other psychiatric disorders. Learning about the nature of these brain changes helps doctors better understand bipolar disorder and may in the future help predict which types of treatment will work best for a person with bipolar disorder. At this time, diagnosis is based on symptoms rather than brain imaging or other diagnostic tests.
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Bipolar Disorder Is Challenging To Diagnose
Some conditions, like hearing loss or the common cold, are fairly easy for doctors to accurately diagnosis. Bipolar is a different story, because theres no definitive test or list of symptoms. Despite the severity and prevalence of this condition, misdiagnosis occurs in 60% of bipolar patients seeking treatment.
People spend between 5 and 10 years , on average, before getting a formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
The reason: They often seek help when theyre feeling down, then get treated just for their depressive symptoms. This is a problem, because the medication used to treat unipolar depression doesnt treat bipolar disorder, and it may actually make manic symptoms worse.
Substance abuse is another factor. One study published in the journal Bipolar Disorders found that nearly half of bipolar disorder patients also have had alcohol or drug dependence problems, which can mask the underlying mental illness.
You Have Bouts Of Over
This is mania. Itâs a high that goes way beyond âhappyâ or âjoyful.â Some people have it often, others hardly ever.
Hypomania is a milder form of this feeling. It doesnât turn into psychosis like mania can, but itâs part of a bipolar diagnosis. You might feel great and get a lot done, but those around you might see changes in your mood and activity levels.
To get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, you must have had at least one manic or hypomanic experience.
Signs of manic behavior include:
- Your mood isnât comfortable. It might feel good at first, especially after depression. But it quickly becomes erratic and out of control.
- Your judgment swerves way off. You take extreme risks. You make bad decisions with no thought for what might happen. For instance, you might spend money recklessly or have risky sex.
- You get bad-tempered and angry.
- You feel strung-out or edgy.
- You find it hard to sleep.
- You feel like your mind is a freeway. You might talk super-fast and hop subjects, or think you can do too many things at once.
Some episodes can mix mania and depression. For example, you might feel hyper-energetic and full of despair at the same time.
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Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is a general category for a person who only has symptoms of bipolar disorder that dont match the three other categories. The symptoms are not enough to make a diagnosis of one of the other three types.
The signs of bipolar disorder can generally be divided into those for mania, and those for depression.
Engaging In Risky Behavior
A person with bipolar disorder may engage in different risky acts. As mentioned previously, they may leave their job in a manic phase.
Sometimes the behaviors can be even more risky than that. Roughly half of bipolar patients engage in risky sexual behavior during their manic periods. They may have sex without protection and with multiple partners, increasing their risk of getting an STD.
Perhaps this person may start gambling or spending a lot of money. They may buy things they dont need, or they may start drinking alcohol and taking drugs. They may become an adrenaline junkie, engaging in dangerous activities like skydiving.
A persons family members or friends may not notice the risky behaviors. They may only surface when strangers appear at a persons house or after a lot of money has been spent. It is important to keep an eye on a person before they engage in risks.
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Living With Bipolar Disorder
Teens normally face ups and downs with school, family, work, and friends. Dealing with bipolar disorder at the same time is a very difficult challenge. One 16-year-old reader who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 14 wrote to us about the experience:
“I had mood swings that were the worst anyone could have ever seen. My poor parents thought I hated them, but really I was sick and didn’t even realize it. But now I am on medications for my disorder and I live a pretty normal life. My family and friends support me, and they, along with my therapist, have helped me get to the point where I am today. I just want other teens to know that even though it is hard at times to be bipolar, things will get better.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, taking your medications as prescribed, reporting any changes in how you feel or function, and participating in therapy will be key to living a successful life. In addition to treatment, making a few lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, eating well, and getting enough sleep and exercise can help someone who is living with the condition. And many teens find it helps to join a support network such as a local support group for people with bipolar disorder.
Where Do I Go For Help
If youre not sure where to get help, your doctor, pediatrician, or other family health care provider is a good place to start. A health care provider can refer you to a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, who has experience treating bipolar disorder and can evaluate your childs symptoms.
You can learn more about getting help and finding a health care provider on the National Institute of Mental Health website. Hospital health care providers can help in an emergency. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has an online tool to help you find mental health services in your area.
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Who Is This Borderline Personality Disorder Quiz For
The questions below relate to life experiences common among people who have borderline personality disorder. Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few weeks.
If you are taking the quiz for someone else such as a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, or child you should provide answers you think theyd supply. Ideally youll have the loved one complete the test themselves and take the results to a doctor or licensed professional.
Talk With Your Doctor
If you think that you or a loved one has signs or symptoms of bipolar disorder, your first step should be to talk with your doctor. Only a trained medical professional can diagnose this disorder, and diagnosis is key to getting proper treatment.
Medication, therapy, or other treatment options can help you or your loved one manage symptoms and maximize quality of life.
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