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The horrors of bipolarity

April 2, 2012

Mood swings. Manic ups and depressive downs. Stress adding to more stress. Finally homicidal and suicidal tendencies. These would be only some of the events that bipolar people experience. Medication can control the condition but many patients reacts to drugs and so have to stop. Others do not react well and live through a fog when medicated. So control comes at a high cost. Antidepressants combined with mood stabilizers combined with anti-psychotics….just the thought of this potent combination give me the shivers. These are not your ordinary run-of-the-mill medicines. These have side effects and down sides. Antidepressants have just been shown to be about as good as placebos for bipolarity! Above all  people with bipolar disorder can never stop taking medicines. And this is the saddest part. Early diagnosis, sensible treatment, sensitive care at home are just the starting points.

The difficulty for care givers is that bipolars have no compunction when it comes to exploiting other people.  In extreme cases patients have to be institutionalized against their wishes. And to watch this happen can be heartbreaking. How much of the bipolarity is inherited and how much comes through childhood trauma is hard to say. Full manifestation often happens later. In young adulthood. Although experts say there are significant signs at earlier stages which parents are either unable to or unwilling to recognize. Unacceptable acts of selfishness. Inordinate show of temper. For caregivers seeing these unpredictable highs and lows is nothing short of traumatic. Parents berate themselves on not doing enough. Husbands and wives go through guilt and worry. Friends who cannot take the swings disappear, driven away by confusion and fear.

The debate between nature and nurture in this context continues. Even if there are genetic causes of bipolarity all experts agree that upbringing and family environment have a big role to play. Problem is that not all parents know what to do and how soon. Diagnosis of bipolarity is becoming easier and while this is a very good development what we need is education for family and friends so that they can ‘protect’ themselves even as they try to help those who suffer from it. We need to mobilize community support if necessary but the stigma attached to mental disorders prevents many people from even considering giving or taking community support.

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From → General Health

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