Manic-Depression & Identity Conflict © Martyn Carruthers 2002

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What is Bipolar Disorder?

Many people who complain of recurrent depression and mania are diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. The same symptoms may also be labeled manic depression, endogenous depression, cyclothemia or cyclic depression.

A medical diagnosis of bipolar disorder implies a severe, chronic mental illness characterized by episodes of elation and high activity; alternating with periods of depression and low energy. Yet we meet many people with this diagnostic label who describe quite different symptoms.

Bipolar disorder can be applied to a single episode of depression, a single episode of mania, to recurring depressive episodes, or to a cycle of depression and hyperactivity.

After a depression concerning my boyfriend when I was 26, a psychiatrist told me that I had bipolar disorder and that I would never work again. That stopped me in my tracks. After eight years without depression, I went back to school for a medical degree. Although I am now a medical doctor, that diagnosis still haunts me. Psychiatry is a shell game. My attempts to dispute my diagnosis were used as evidence to confirm it. California

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is an opinion that cannot be proved or disproved by medical tests, although such opinions may haunt people throughout their lives. Although symptoms of bipolar disorder are often managed with psychoactive medication, we sometimes help people manage emotional conflicts and relationship problems that seem to support these symptoms.

Glucose is brain-fuel and a blood glucose imbalance can result in:
mood swings and depression, as well as fatigue, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, excessive thirst, night sweating, poor concentration, forgetfulness, digestive disturbances and blurred vision.

Symptoms that are sometimes labeled bipolar disorder may be associated with diet, relationship problems, emotional incest and identity loss. We help people to explore and manage the consequences of relationship problems, including the consequences of abuse by authorities.

How is Bipolar Disorder diagnosed?

There are no medical or laboratory tests for bipolar disorder (nor for most psychiatric diagnosis) – only opinions that cannot be confirmed or rejected by a laboratory. The behaviors it describes are common and most people seem to have experienced them from time to time.

Manic phase Depressive phase
  • feeling euphoric or high
  • feeling irritable & restless
  • racing thoughts, talkativeness
  • sleep disorders
  • reckless activities
  • arrogant with poor judgment
  • delusions or hallucinations
  • feeling depressed, low or down
  • feeling melancholy and hopeless
  • difficulty making decisions
  • poor self-evaluation
  • low interest in daily activities
  • withdrawal from family or friends
  • suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts

A label of bipolar disorder often seems to be applied to adults, who as children coped with immature parents and/or parental alienation and/or emotional incest. Many people seem to create sub-personalities to cope with such abuse – and later in life may swing back and forth between them. We call this chronic conflict.

There are other explanations. Mood swings may be triggered by diet or food allergies, although no specific nutrients have been shown to cause or cure bipolar.

Systemic Diagnosis: Identity Conflict

A person showing identity conflict often makes decisions or promises when one persona (or part or side) is active, and forgets, ignores or denies those decisions and promises when another persona is active. This behavior appears to be common – perhaps one person in six.

We meet many people who appear to have identified with two other people. Typically the role models were two adults who were in conflict with each other while the person was a child – usually parents, grandparents or other relatives.

If one parent was depressed, and the other motivated,
a child may try to show loyalty to both parents by sequentially expressing depressed and motivated personalities. See chronic conflict.
We help people manage their moods.

If one parent was frequently absent, missing or dead, a child may perceive the missing parent only through the descriptions and behavior of the other parent. If the remaining parent disliked the other parent, this parent may alienate the other parent in the mind of the child. (We help people recognize, prevent and control the consequences of parental alienation).

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

After diagnosing bipolar disorder, medications may be prescribed to help people manage their emotions. The most common medications prescribed for bipolar disorder are currently lithium and Thorazine (chlorpromazine). Another treatment for bipolar is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Side Effects of Lithium
Increased frequency of urination or lost bladder control is more common in women than in men. Patients may experience increased thirst; mild nausea and trembling.

Side Effects of Thorazine (Chlorpromazine)
Increased constipation; decreased sweating; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is passing enough electric current through the brain to cause a convulsion. Electroshock is generally reserved for people with symptoms of depression, mania and schizophrenia, especially people who do not respond well to, or abreact to, other psychiatric treatment.

Side Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electrocution, brain damage, memory loss, increased distractibility, difficulty with multiple tasks, trouble with arithmetic and language, nausea and headaches are all associated with electroshock.

Systemic Solutions for Complex Conflict

To summarize, we can help people who suffer from complex conflict to find lasting resolution of many unpleasant symptoms. See our transcript conflict transcript for insights into managing difficult thoughts and uncomfortable emotions.

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