Posts tagged ‘bipolar disorder’

March 13, 2010

Screen Yourself Online for a Mental Disorder

I wrote a post recently about how self-diagnosis of bipolar disorder is on the rise. Well, US News and World Report has provided some online self-screening tool sources.

They list: My Mood Monitor, developed by clinicians from Georgetown University, Columbia University, and the Bipolar Collaborative Network.

Also, Depression Screening Test by Ivan Goldberg, M.D. The test is intended to measure symptoms of what could be depression as well as to track changes in your feelings or behavior over time. This type of screening can help differentiate depression symptoms from those of bipolar disorder (for which Goldberg developed a bipolar screening tool).

February 8, 2010

study: your bright kid could be bipolar

From The Telegraph: Straight-A schoolchildren at higher risk of bipolar disorder, research claims

Clever children are almost four times more likely to suffer from the condition, which is also known as manic depression.

The latest finding, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, supports a commonly held belief that exceptional intellectual ability is associated with the mental illness.

Read more

October 8, 2009

Happy Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day, I think

According to what I’ve read about the years past, I believe today (Thursday during Mental Illness Awareness Week/MIAW) is Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day. The people who created this holiday, NAMI, seem to have forgotten that they made this day up. I cannot find any information about this day on their web site. So, here are some other sites where you can go and find information about bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder has been estimated to afflict more than 5 million Americans—about 1 out of every 45 adults. It’s too bad that no one is aware about the fact that there’s an awareness day for this illness.

Mayo Clinic

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Institute of Mental Health

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry/BP in children & teens

August 29, 2009

Catch the traveling exhibit about bipolar depression!

There are traveling circuses, carnivals and art shows. Then there’s now a traveling exhibit about bipolar depression. AstraZeneca  has put together a traveling exhibit with the intent to help Americans understand and manage the depressive side of bipolar disorder. “The Bipolar Journey: Living with Bipolar Depression” is an interactive exhibit that is currently touring across the country, with its goals to give patients the resources they need to help find appropriate support to manage their disease. One neat feature is called “My Story,” where visitors can step into a photo booth to record a short message about their experience with bipolar depression. Select messages will be posted on an “inspiration wall” to travel around the country with the exhibit.

The company has also set up  Thinking Forward, a support program that provides free information, resources, and practical advice for people with bipolar depression. has the tour schedule.

Btw, AstraZeneca is the maker of Seroquel.

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August 28, 2009

the fifth anniversary of my suicide attempt

I’m amazed it’s been five years. I’m really just amazed that I’m not dead. But here I am, still alive, and writing out this little entry. I do not bring this date up often, but I have been thinking about it since the month turned to August. Dr. A calls it my ‘personal 9/11.’ I guess it’s something like that.

In my last post, I put up a study about Asian-American women and suicide. While I could relate to much of what was written, I have to say that this suicide attempt had little to do with these life trials of being an Asian-American girl. As I came to find out in the hospital, my moods were cycling that past week, and that hypomanic mood plunged to a deep depression on that Friday night. I remember coming home from work and as a ‘Six Feet Under’ episode played on my television, I made myself a frozen margarita. Then I lined up a variety of pills, dozens of them, in pristine little rows. And one by one, I inhaled them, well over 30 of them, with that margarita.Unlike the first time, I wrote a note of apology to my family and to my doctor. Then I went to bed.

I awoke in the middle of the night with a feeling I had never experienced before and don’t really know how to explain in words. My body somehow knew to expel much of the pills, so I had thrown up a large quantity of them during the night. But the rest had caused all the muscles below the waist to stop working completely. I wanted to use the restroom, so I dragged my body across the floor. It seemed like it took hours just to climb up to the toilet. But because none of the muscles were working, there was no way for me to relieve myself. I somehow dragged my body back to the bed and went back to sleep. (More I talk about this attempt, more I realize that this could have ‘succeeded’ or have caused some irreparable damage to parts of my body.) It never occurred to me then to call an ambulance, or anyone.

I woke up that next day and began to realize what I had just done. I remember holding that phone in my hand trying to decide whether to call Dr. A. I called her. By this point, my legs were in semi-working order, so I drove to her office to meet her. She sensed that I wasn’t emotionally ready to check into the psych hospital, so she allowed me to stay one night with some friends. By the time I woke up at my friends the next morning, I still could not get rid of the suicidal urge. I met Dr. A again at her office to tell her that I needed to go to the hospital. Dr. A made arrangements for me at Parthenon Pavilion that morning, and I went home to pack.

I packed my belongings in a rolling suitcase, and I drove myself to the hospital. I entered the hospital to check in as if I were checking in at some fancy hotel. They led me into through those locked doors, and they first asked me a series of questions before taking me to the area I would be staying. This was the first time someone mentioned to me the possibility of having ECT. When they took me to the adult ward, the nurses first checked my bags for any objects I’m not allowed to have in the ward, such as rope or a belt. Then, there’s the strip search. Though the place is not cozy, it’s not unpleasant. I was allowed to keep a pen and some paper, so I proceeded to write a 6+ page journal entry about the situation. When the psychiatrist, Dr. J,  met me the next morning, I handed him the stack of papers all covered in pink ink. After skimming through it, I remember him telling me just how lucid my writing was. The next day he told me that I had bipolar disorder. What? I can deal with being just depressed, but how can I be bipolar? I struggled to get a grip on this new diagnosis.(What’s it like inside a psychiatric hospital? In the interest of time, I’ll save that story for later.)

In spite of my apprehension to get back into the real world, I was released a few days later. Just as I drove in on my own to the hospital, I rolled along my suitcase back to my car and headed back home. When I got out, it was September. And now, five years have passed by.

July 2, 2009

New Research: Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorder Share Genetic Roots

Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorder Share Many Common Genetic Variants Says International Research Consortium

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April 17, 2009

In the News: Bipolar symptoms have impact on day-to-day tasks (as if we didn’t know this already)

Saw this on PR Newswire. The study was sponsored by National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and AstraZeneca (who, btw, makes Seroquel).

New National Online Survey Says Bipolar Depressive Symptoms Have Impact on Day-To-Day Tasks as Well as Social Activities(1)

Ninety Percent of People Being Treated for Bipolar Disorder Say They Have Difficulty with Day-To-Day Tasks Due to Depressive Symptoms (1)

WASHINGTON, April 17 /PRNewswire/ — A new national online survey of more than 2,000 people living with bipolar disorder and 500 physicians who treat patients with bipolar disorder identified that the greatest concern among people living with bipolar disorder (73%) is that their symptoms will impact daily life, such as family, relationships, or job.(1) In particular, about 9 in 10 patients (89%) said they have cancelled social engagements because of bipolar depression.(1) In addition, people with bipolar disorder reported that bipolar depressive symptoms affected their ability to manage housework (73%) and run errands (59%).(1) This online survey was commissioned by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and AstraZeneca to better understand the impact of bipolar depression on people’s lives.

Bipolar disorder may affect approximately 8 million American adults.(2,3) People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings from lows, called bipolar depression, to highs, called bipolar mania.(4) Many people with bipolar disorder report spending more time in the depressive phase(5) — which includes feelings of sadness and emptiness, depressed moods and inability to concentrate — than in the manic phase.(4) This fact was confirmed in the online survey, with 61 percent of people with bipolar disorder saying their depressive episodes last longer than their manic episodes.(1)

“This survey clearly demonstrates that many people with bipolar disorder are feeling the effects of bipolar depression in their day-to-day lives,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “Bipolar disorder is a manageable disease, but there are a number of factors that can get in the way of successful treatment.”

In fact, the online survey revealed some communication challenges that people with bipolar disorder have with their physicians.(1) For example, forty-one percent of patients said they wished they could be more open about their bipolar depression symptoms with their health care professional.(1) In addition, 72% of physicians agreed that many of their patients don’t know how to accurately describe their bipolar depression symptoms.(1)

“Strong communication between patients and physicians is one of the most critical factors in effectively managing bipolar disorder,” said Rosenberg. “From a patient perspective, it’s important to share all symptoms and experiences so your doctor has a detailed picture of your day-to-day life. In turn, physicians can encourage patients to be true partners in developing an appropriate treatment plan to successfully manage their bipolar depression.”

Rosenberg also recommended the following steps for patients to strengthen communication with their health care professional:

  • Describe how you’re feeling to the best of your ability. It’s OK if you don’t know the clinical language — just use your own words.
  • Jot down any questions and concerns you have beforehand so you don’t forget them.
  • Don’t hesitate to share anything and everything with your doctor, even if it feels personal or unimportant. Your doctor is best-equipped to help you when he or she has all the information.
  • Work with your doctor to set expectations and goals for your treatment. For many patients, these may be “everyday” goals, like getting back to a regular work schedule or spending more time with family and friends.

To learn more about bipolar disorder, including additional tips for an effective patient-physician dialogue, visit or Another resource to learn more about how to help someone with bipolar disorder or other mental health problems is “Mental Health First Aid,” which is a public education program active in communities across the nation (

About the Online Survey

The Bipolar Depression Treatment Dynamic was conducted by StrategyOne, an applied research consulting firm, on behalf of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and AstraZeneca. The online survey polled 2,005 American bipolar disorder patients (25 to 64 years of age) and 500 clinicians who treat patients with bipolar disorder (250 psychiatrists; 250 primary care physicians) to determine how they view the personal toll of depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.(1) The online surveys, which for the patient sample had a margin of error of +/-2.2% and for the physician sample had a margin of error of +/-4.4%, were conducted using the field services of Harris Interactive Service Bureau from February 11, 2009, through February 27, 2009 and February 19, 2009, respectively.(1) As with all surveys of this type, this survey was not designed to be a scientific survey. Surveys of this type are by their nature limited due to potential sampling inconsistencies and other factors.

About the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,600 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives. For more information about the National Council, please visit:

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription medicines and in the supply of healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies with global healthcare sales of $31.6 billion and is a leader in the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infectious disease areas. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $13.5 billion dollar healthcare business. For more information about AstraZeneca in the US or our AZ&Me Prescription Savings programs, please visit:


  1. Data on file, 278295, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP.
  2. US Bureau of the Census. Available at: Accessed on March 20, 2009.
  3. Hirschfeld RMA, Calabrese JR, Weissman MM, et al. Screening for Bipolar in the Community. J Clin Psychiatry. 2003; 64:53-59.
  4. American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: APA; 2000.
  5. Calabrese JR, Hirschfeld RMA, Frye MA, et al. Impact of Depressive Symptoms Compared with Manic Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder: Results of a U.S. Community-Based Sample. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65:1499-1504


February 12, 2009

on to the 12th round

Welcome to the 11th round of ECT….and not yet over. I think Dr. J. thought we could be done by the 10th round, but now 12th round is a sure deal. It’s odd to have people about my age observe my ECT. I guess they have to learn somehow, but it is a bit creepy. They’re getting to see stuff I’ve never seen!

I can’t quite tell if I feel immensely better, though watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann kept my interest, as did Margaret Carlson, a Bloomberg columnist.  The main question I have to ask myself is,  How do I know if I’m back to my old self? I found myself laughing out loud during President Obama’s speech he was giving in Illinois (something about secretary of commerce). My mother thinks I look really sad, which I partly disagree. I think I would look a bit tired if I were put through some flashes of light that causes a grand mal seizure. I think I should just be glad much of my language skills are still intact.

Dr. J. told me that he doesn’t remember diagnosing me with bipolar II disorder five years ago. I decided to leaf through an older journal, and I never quite knew how in despair I was at the time. I can’t find the main set of papers from when I was diagnosed, but I’ve written down the chain of events that would clear things up for him.

January 8, 2009

Going Public

I keep most things to myself, including thoughts, feelings, and even diagnoses.  But apparently, I am compelled to just tell people I know that I will be going through ECT like it’s a new job announcement. I admit it seem like a display of being self-absorbed or attention-seeking. But maybe this procedure warrants notifying certain people what’s going on.  I think I’ve finally wanted some others to know about my condition and about the ECT because, quite frankly, this ECT is a HUGE event in my life that will alter me in someway that those people will notice.  The ECT is a big deal.

I also find myself bringing up my ECT in order to correct any misperceptions about shock therapy. I do want to put my ‘friendly’ face to a procedure that may sound arcane.  There is a person that changes as the weeks lead into the ECT treatment, during, and then post-treatment.  And how that person is transformed is often not what’s been published.  All people conjure is about the electrical part, and not how that part helped a suicidal patient.  I guess I want to get the truth across.  Carrie Fisher really helped out when she was asked the question about ECT.  The interviewer sounded as though she escaped from an asylum.  She bluntly stated that ECT was the best thing she ever did, and that ECT is not at all like people imagine it to be.  Despite her 4-month memory loss, she says she’d do it again.

Before I act like I’m some face for this procedure, I guess I need to get through them. Maybe I’m just talking because I’ve never met anyone who’s gone through the procedure.  I kind of want to show that people like me are in the mix.

I’ve still not let people know about this web log. Perhaps it’s time to really take it public if I want to walk the walk.

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