Bipolar Disorder Risk Syndrome

Perhaps you took notice of the projection of psychosis risk syndrome for the upcoming DSM-V. Well, bipolar disorder, of course, has its own and comparitive risk syndrome. An article just made its way into Bloomsburg Businessweek on the subject, Many Depressed People Have Mild, Brief Episodes of Mania.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans with major depression also have brief but recurring episodes of manic behavior, a new study suggests.

This matter of looking for pre-bipolar disorder is a little tricky, and perhaps perverted, wouldn’t you say?

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that these patients have what’s called “subthreshold hypomania” — meaning a milder form of mania that lasts fewer than four days, and is therefore below the threshold for bipolar disorder.

Translation: energizing happiness is a “mental disorder”.

Merikangas and her colleagues analyzed data from a survey of more than 5,000 U.S. households. They found that people with subthreshold hypomania have higher rates of anxiety and substance abuse and more depressive episodes than depressed people who don’t exhibit manic behavior. What’s more, they were just as likely to have a family history of mania as people with bipolar disorder, which suggests that they may be at a higher risk of developing full-blown bipolar disorder down the road.

One point I wanted to make that you may not have caught is, uh, we’re making a big to-do out of may.

What you may not have heard is that SSRI antidepressants, the drugs predominately used in the treatment of major depression, trigger mania in a certain percentage of the cases given these drugs. Usually when this happens the person who was labeled depressive receives a bipolar label. This means, of course, more severe diagnosis, less optimistic prognosis, and multiple psychiatric drugs.

A better course of action, rather than crying misdiagnosis, and proceeding with your rediagnosis, might be detoxification. Remove the anti-depressant, and see if the mania resolved itself. Exercise, counseling, and other non-drug measures might do much to dispell the dark mood of the original depression. It must be remembered that once, before the introduction of anti-depressant drugs, clinical depression was not the lifelong illness that it is often seen as being today. I think it much more probable that this situation was due to a change in the nature of the treatment rather than in a change in the nature of the “disease”.

Of course, it must be remembered that we’re dealing with a prediagnosis here. There, I said it, and now let me add, treating is not preventing. In fact, sometimes treatment can exasperate the problem.

Although the article recommends seeking professional psychiatric help for this type of “latent mental illness”, I would seriously advise against it unless, of course, you want your Monday morning blahs to blossom into full-blown bipolar disorder.