Bipolar disorder

Mental Health Treatment Can Save Lives, But The Right Diagnosis Can Take Years

1,277 days. That’s approximately how long it took Nic Newling to figure out he was dealing with bipolar disorder after first reaching out for help.

Newling was born and raised in Sydney. He first began to notice something was wrong when he was a young teen in school. He felt panicked and burned out ― sometimes for no reason at all ― and it was severely destabilizing his everyday routine.

“I was a high achiever in school,” Newling recalled. “I was really dedicated to it, but halfway through that school year, I noticed I was getting really stressed and anxious. And from there it was a really long journey of trying to find the right help.”

He was admitted into an adolescent psychiatric hospital at age 14, where physicians believed he was dealing with some form of psychosis. He stayed for nine months.

Newling was diagnosed with major depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizoaffective disorder. He received medication and therapies to treat those specific illnesses. Nothing seemed to work.

At age 16, he underwent shock therapy, also known as electroconvulsive therapy. The controversial treatment sends small electric currents through the brain to alter its chemistry and treat issues like depression.

Newling reports feeling suicidal at the time. He knew, deep down, that he wasn’t getting the right help.

Data published by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association found that 69 percent of people with bipolar disorder are originally misdiagnosed, and more than one-third remain misdiagnosed for a decade or more. Many factors can contribute to this, including the delayed onset of certain symptoms or patients not sticking with treatment.

After three and a half years of incorrect diagnoses and different treatment methods, Newling finally found relief during a stay at a different psychiatric facility. His attending doctor caught him in a period of mania. After another evaluation, his physician diagnosed him with bipolar II disorder and gave him more specific medication to treat it.

“I felt skeptical at first,” Newling said. “I’d been told I have so many different conditions over the years, and each one came with months or years of traveling down a path of no relief and diminishing hope.”

The major reason people are misdiagnosed is because their symptoms often materialize in different ways, says Bob Carolla, a spokesperson and senior writer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Finding the right treatment plan comes in stages,” he said. “Not all symptoms may be appearing at the same time. Others may not be immediately recognized as symptoms.”

This is especially true when it comes to high-functioning people. For example, if a person is ordinarily achievement-oriented or creative, it may not be obvious they’re having a manic episode, Carolla said.

While there are no definitive statistics on how often mental illnesses are misdiagnosed as a whole, research suggests that bipolar disorder is the most misdiagnosed condition. This could mean more treatment costs and lost workplace productivity, as well as increased risk of suicidal thoughts if the person isn’t getting the most effective…

Many of Us Suffer from Mental Disorders but Most Choose to Ignore Them

As time goes on, discussing mental health and the disorders so many of us face has become less and less taboo. With shows like ’13 Reasons Why,’ we seem to all be open to discussion suicide and bullying far more often than we would have just a few years ago.

But the ability to discuss it more freely does not mean mental health is improving. In fact, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental health, and as many as 6.9% of adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode last year. Of these, only about 41% of adults in the U.S. received mental health services during that time.1 But why? It seems like media is more willing to talk about things like bipolar disorder and depression, but despite it being all around us, many are choosing to just ignore their problems.

Mental health matters and we should face it.

We’ve all seen the commercials about depression. The scene usually involves an attractive young/middle-aged woman lying on her couch or longingly staring out the window. We hear the voice-over comment on how living with depression can make you feel like a prisoner. You don’t want to engage with your friends or family anymore. In fact, you sometimes don’t even want to get out of bed. For some people, that commercial is an accurate representation of their life. But for others, their depression may not look that way. In fact, they may only feel sad or mildly moody a few times a week. To them, that’s their normal. Perhaps that’s why it can be difficult to know you should seek help.

Unfortunately, choosing to do nothing, or failing to recognize you need to do something at all, can have heartbreaking consequences. More than 90% of children who commit suicide were living with untreated mental health issues. More so, those living with mental illness are more likely to develop chronic medical conditions and even die 25 years earlier than others.

While it can sometimes feel embarrassing to seek help for something you may not truly understand, it is never embarrassing to want to help yourself and be healthy. So if you’re thinking you may have a problem, know you aren’t along, and know what to look for.

There are numerous types of mental health disorders. The following lists out the most common ones and summarizes what they are:2

1. Social or general anxiety disorders

People who suffer from these disorders respond to situations with fear and panic attacks. For anxiety sufferers, something as normal as walking out their front door can lead to complete fear and an emotional breakdown. This disorder affects about 1.5% of the U.S. population of those aged 18 and up.3

2. Depression, bipolar and cyclothymic

These are classified as mood disorders, and they typically involve intense feelings of sadness or periods of being super happy followed by being super sad. While anyone undergoing stress can experience mood swings, those with diagnosed mood disorders tend to fluctuate more frequently and intensely. Mood disorders affect almost 10% of the U.S. adult population.4

3. Psychotic episodes such as hallucinations and delusions

Psychotic disorders involve distorted awareness. People who live with psychotic disorders often see things or hear things that are not real. Schizophrenia is a common example of a psychotic episode. 4% of the U.S. adult population has been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

4. Anorexia, binge eating and bulimia

While many young girls (and some boys) may think eating disorders are…

How Manic Depression Is More Than Just Depression (It Could Be Worse.)

Your alarm didn’t go off and you’re late for work.

Accounting had a glitch in the system and your check wasn’t deposited.

Your best friend told you at the last minute you’re not invited to her wedding.

Ouch.

Everyone has bad days. And it’s normal to feel angry, upset and really bummed out for awhile.

Depending on how severe the issue is, such as a death in the family, it’s totally appropriate to go through a grieving period and maybe even a bout with depression.

But what if it’s different? What if what you or a loved one is going through isn’t just depression, but manic depression?

Depression is depression, right? Wrong.

It’s really easy to confuse manic depression with clinical depression — especially since both terms contain the word “depression.”1

Someone suffering with clinical depression experiences really low points, extreme sadness, easily cries, has no interest in fun activities, zero energy and basically just feels hopeless.

However, someone with manic depression not only has to fight clinical depression, they also have times when they’re really happy and feel on top of the world. Yet, they also have racing thoughts, talk too fast, get little sleep and can become easily irritated.

Because manic depression includes clinical depression, it’s easy to see how the two often get mixed up. To minimize confusion, manic depression is now known as bipolar disorder. According to Psych Central:

Bipolar disorder, also known in some parts of the world by its older name of “manic depression,” is a mental disorder that is characterized by serious and significant mood swings. A person with this condition experiences alternating “highs” (what clinicians call “mania“) and “lows” (also known as depression). 2

Manic depression affects more people than you may realize.

Before you dismiss manic depression as “another person’s problem,” someone you know could be battling this disorder. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, millions of adult Americans are affected each year, which turns out to be about 2.6% of the population. 3 Because so many people are dealing with it and the numbers continue to grow, it’s important to understand as much as possible about this disorder.

Also, dealing with a friend or family member can be tough if you don’t know what to expect or how to proceed with…