Tortured artists not only produce great art but also creative children who are prone to be similarly tormented artists. Psychiatry experts at Stanford University determined that parents with bipolar disorder are likely to pass creativity along to their offspring. Previously, researchers noticed that people with bipolar disorder tended to be highly creative, but by exploring familial connections, this study marks the first detection of a probable genetic link between creativity and bipolar disorder. That said, bipolar parents should still get proper treatment as , according to Reuters. The illness can cause many life problems and there is treatment. The first step is getting proper diagnosis.
Proper diagnosis of bipolar disorder is the first step in seeking treatment for this debilitating disease. Most people think that “manic-depressive” is the authoritative definition of bipolar disorder but there are actually three types of the disorder.
- Bipolar I Disorder with intense mania and major depression is the most well-known and severe type.
- Bipolar II Disorder does not involve mania but repeated cycles of major depression and hypomania.
- The third type, cyclothymia involves hypomania and mild depression. Cyclothymia is characterized by moods swings that are not strong enough to be termed major depression or mania.
For a more detailed description of the types read this FYI article on Bipolar I versus Bipolar II.
Like most mental health disorders, there is no definitive bipolar disorder test consisting of a blood test or other medical laboratory test to diagnose this condition. Lab work is often used in diagnostics to rule out other physiological causes for symptoms, but they cannot detect the disorder. Instead, doctors determine the presence of the illness through a variety of bipolar screening tests and questionnaires. Several diagnostic tools are used to help diagnose bipolar disorder.
Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General lists the criteria for major depressive and manic episodes, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Signs and symptoms of a major depressive episode include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- A loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable
- Significant weight gain or weight loss without dieting, or an increase or decrease in appetite
- Experiencing either insomnia or an excessive amount of sleep
- “Psychomotor agitation” (for example, pacing, nail biting, or difficulty sitting still) or psychomotor retardation (such as walking and working at slower paces or speaking more slowly and less frequently than usual)
- Fatigue or a loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness, excessive feelings of guilt, or feeling guilty about situations for which you are not at fault
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Suicidal thoughts
Manic episodes include:
- An elevated or irritable mood
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity (which can be delusional)
- Decreased need for sleep, sometimes needing only two hours of sleep to feel rested, and in some cases, being able to go three days with no sleep at all without feeling tired
- Being more talkative than usual, an urge to keep talking, or rapid speech
- Racing thoughts that often shift from one topic to another
- Being easily distracted by unimportant situations
- An increase in goal-directed activity, and often, the goals are grandiose and unrealistic
- Reckless or excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for negative consequences (such as overspending, excessive gambling, or sexual indiscretions)
Bipolar disorder treatment is most effective when a complete and comprehensive treatment plan, including complementary therapies, is followed diligently. Mood stabilizing medications are the underlying foundation in managing bipolar disorder. Correct dosage is extremely important and sometimes difficult to achieve. Regular visits with your doctor and following the recommended frequency of blood tests will tell if medication levels are within target ranges for effective treatment.
Medical research has shown that manic depression treatment with medication is enhanced by therapy. Because stress reduction is a major factor in healing, people on medications for bipolar disorder get better more quickly and experience longer periods of wellness if they receive therapy while on bipolar medication. For more information check out this FYI article on treating bipolar.