Zoya was 16 years old and struggling to cope in most areas of her life. At first her parents thought her drastic mood swings were “regular teen hormone stuff” but it quickly became apparent that her symptoms were more than typical teenage angst. Zoya would go from being tearful, withdrawn, sleeping 16 hours a day and unwilling to engage with family and friends to being “so hyper it’s hard to be around her,” reported her mom. “When she’s hyper, she’ll talk a mile a minute, doesn’t really sleep and is really social and out going. She’ll start 14 different projects but then, after a few days, her mood turns back down and she doesn’t finish what she’s started and ends up back in bed for days on end.”
Upon careful examination of Zoya’s family history, it became pretty apparent that Zoya’s maternal grandfather had suffered with similar symptoms most of his life. “I think at one point he was hospitalized in the psychiatric ward and they told us he had manic depressive disorder but I’m not really sure,” her mother told me. Zoya’s grandfather had tragically committed suicide when Zoya’s mother was a teenager. Zoya denied that she had ever attempted suicide but did admit that the thought would cross her mind when she was feeling depressed.
Bipolar spectrum disorders are marked by significant shifts in mood, behavior, sleep and appetite and affects more than 46 million people around the world. Symptoms of bipolar disorder often present in adolescence and can be confused with ADD, major depression and other behavioral disorders. Zoya’s family history of bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depressive disorder, put her at a higher risk for developing the disease.
With the use of medication to help stabilize her mood and regulate her sleep, Zoya’s bipolar disorder improved dramatically. She also went to therapy for the next few years to learn how to accept and manage her illness better. While there is no cure for bipolar spectrum disorders at this time, the disabling effects of the disorder can be well managed with appropriate treatment. People with bipolar spectrum disorders need life long medication to manage their symptoms, so it’s important to educate the individual and their family members about this from the start of treatment and to work closely with your provider to find a medication that works well and has few or no side effects.
What WellPsyche Patients Are Saying
“I honestly thought I was going crazy. I couldn’t understand why I had such horrible mood swings while everyone around me seemed basically normal and happy. I would get so down I would stop going to school and my grades got really bad. Then, after a few weeks or sometimes a few days, I’d feel tons of energy and be really active. I loved feeling like that but I hated the lows. I’m really upset that I have bipolar disorder because I know it’s something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life but I’m also really glad to know what to do to feel better. I take medicine now that makes my mood more normal and I haven’t had a really down period in over 6 months.”
Chloe, age 16
“My husband has bipolar disorder and so I knew it was likely what was causing my son’s symptoms. Aiden would be up one minute and down the next, rapid cycling, I think they call it. It was hard for him to accept at first but he has a really good role model, his dad, and he’s gotten on medication that he’s responded really well to. It’s not easy living with two bipolar people but with the right support, it’s possible.”
Shannen, Aiden's Mom
Did You Know?
MANY famous and highly successful people have been diagnosed in the Bipolar Spectrum including Mariah Carey, American Singer, Carrie Fisher, Actress, Demi Lovato, Actress, Russell Brand, Actor, Brian Wilson, Singer and Song Writer, Ernest Hemingway, Author, Ted Turner, Founder of CNN, just to name a few.