by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 14, 2022 bipolar disorder, Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, depression, manic depression, medicine, mental health, mental health awareness, mental illness, mood swing, preventing suicide0 comments
As a therapist I have had many clients who were diagnosed with or in the process of being identified as having Bipolar I Disorder. Similarly, I recognize experiences with acquaintances whose personalities seemed to dramatically change over time. Before learning more about bipolar disorder, I wondered what had caused these changes, was it me, them, or had our relationships simply changed.
Bipolar I Disorder was once called manic depression because a person with this diagnosis often swings from extreme highs and lows as part of mania and depression phases. Typically, mania involves extreme increases in energy levels and reduced sleep needs, risky and impulsive behaviors, poor decision making, restlessness, and irritability among other symptoms. During a manic episode, a person may feel invincible, on top of the world, and as though nothing can stand in the way of success.
And after, depression occurs as part of a cycle—what goes up, must come down. As good as the mania feels, the depression feels equally bad, including extreme symptoms of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness/helplessness. Both mania and depression symptoms may occur for several days as part of a repeated cycle. A person can become psychotic during each phase, seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are not there. Likewise, a person may experience suicidal ideation during each phase of bipolar disorder, wanting to end their cycle of pain, poor decision making, and confusion about what happened.
Without treatment a person with Bipolar I Disorder can cycle more regularly between mania and depression, also experiencing more extreme symptoms of each. Examples could be a person quitting their job, filing for divorce, or trying to end their life. Bipolar I Disorder can be difficult to diagnose. This is because mood swings may look different for different people. Additionally, symptoms of mania, including jumpiness, anxiety, and restlessness, may be confused with a generalized anxiety disorder. Distractibility can be confused with ADHD. Depression can look like a simple depressive disorder.
Diagnosis and treatment for a bipolar disorder may not occur until a trained mental health professional observes the significant and long-lasting symptoms of mania and depression as part of a recurrent cycle. Likewise, obtaining a history of similar symptoms among family members can be critical for making a bipolar diagnosis. Additionally, knowing a history of recent trauma as potentially triggering the beginning of the mania/depression cycle might be helpful.
The good news is that there is help to better regulate mood swings and return to a more stable lifestyle. As with any other medical condition, taking medications has proven beneficial for feeling more in control of mania/depression symptoms. Mental health therapy, including individual therapy, couples/marital therapy, and family therapy, has been proven helpful for understanding the impact of having bipolar symptoms, including how we perceive ourselves and are perceived by others.
Supportive therapy can help people with a bipolar diagnosis learn how to create balances between working excessively, staying up late, doing drugs, drinking too much alcohol, and building financial safeguards for preventing overspending. Establishing a supportive circle of friends, professionals, and community resources is usually part of feeling better about self and the world. Keeping mood diaries through various apps can help people monitor potential mood swings.
I look at the world today as being more humane and supportive of people with a mental illness like Bipolar I or II. However, it remains essential that a person with manic/depression symptoms recognize the advancements in treatment of this disorder and reach out for help.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh is here to help if you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Please contact us at 412-322-2129 if you need support.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 19, 2019 preventing suicide, signs of suicide0 comments
These are The Signs of Suicide You Should Know to Save a Life; By Melissa Howard
Suicide is not just a minor issue; it is a public health crisis. While medications and lifestyle changes can help prevent other health hazards, suicide can be much harder to recognize and treat. The actual act of suicide can be a split-second decision but the thoughts that lead to this tragedy tend to build off of experiences, mental health issues and all too often, addiction. Since suicide involved internal thoughts and emotions, rather than acute physical symptoms it’s vital to be aware of the following information when trying to prevent suicides.
Suicide signs can be hard to spot…
There are many warning signs of suicidal ideation and indicators that someone may be thinking about causing themselves harm. Some of these signs manifest in speech or outward actions, while others are subtle. This can make the latter signs difficult to discern, especially when they present on their own. Individually these signs might be meaningless, but when more than one sign is combined they can quickly escalate into someone actually attempting a suicidal act.
Dialogue can be a warning of suicide too…
Sometimes, words are the most powerful indicator that something is going terribly wrong with someone you love and know. The most glaring example of these spoken suicide signs is talking about committing suicide or some form of self-harm. Even statements that might be laced with sarcasm should be looked into as potential threats. In addition to these red flags, someone who
Describes themselves as hopeless or who constantly seems to be speaking with despair may be thinking of committing a suicidal act. You may also hear a loved one state that they are a burden to others. Such a statement, or saying that the world would be better off without you are announcements of suicidal thought, and should be addressed.
Actions can foreshadow suicide as well…
If you are concerned that a family member or household member is thinking about suicide, reviewing their web search history may help. If you see that person has been trying to learn about suicide methods, that’s a clear sign that they are seriously thinking about taking their own life. Aside from searching for this information, individuals who are distressed may also begin to withdraw from relationships and activities. If the same person begins to give away prized possessions, know that it is time to reach out for professional help.
Addiction is often linked to suicidal thoughts and actions…
An additional and crucial suicide warning sign that warrants further discussion is substance abuse. Substance abuse can be a source as well as a means for suicidal acts. Overdoses are often considered as the culmination of substance abuse disorders, but they may be deliberate in certain cases.
Addiction is connected to suicide through anxiety and depression. Someone who is afflicted with anxiety or depression will try to alleviate these feelings through a variety of self-administered therapies. But when these mental health disorders are self-treated with drugs and alcohol instead of with professional help, people tend to get caught in a downward spiral that drives them to want to take their own life.
Professional help can prevent suicides and provide real relief…
When you or a loved one is thinking about suicide, getting immediate help can be a matter of life and death. If you have untreated mental health issues, you should know that help is available. Treatment options are readily available to safely manage depression and anxiety in a way that allows you to function. If you are having problems with substance abuse too, there are rehabilitation programs and treatments that can help you take back control of your life. When seeking treatment options, look for licensed clinical social workers. These professionals are trained to diagnose and treat problems related to mental health, including substance abuse and psychosocial problems. They most likely earned their license by completing Master of Social Work programs at a U.S. university. These programs typically require as much as 1,200 hours of work in the field.
Being aware of the signs of suicide, whether subtle or pronounced, is a crucial first step in preventing more people from committing this tragic act. If you recognize these signs in someone you love, or even in yourself, please reach out for help. Call a hotline, call a friend, seek counseling, or just go to the nearest emergency room. However you get help, know that your life matters and you are not alone, and let those in your life who may be in danger know this as well.
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