People function and react differently given the same chemical cocktail. One medication can be a wonder drug for consumers of Mental disorder, restoring their ability to function adequately for a long duration of time. Another patient may not respond at all to the same prescribed psychiatric medication. And the next consumer could have serious negative or dangerous effects from the same medical therapy.
People are different.
A funny story about me….
Lithium is a commonly prescribed drug for Bipolar Disorder. It is a relatively cheap, successful and safe mood stabilizer. It’s a naturally found substance – Lithium compounds are salts. Most consumers who take the drug therapy successfully usually only deal with the side effects of weight gain, mild tremors and dry mouth. Lithium can take up to three months to build up in a consumers system to show full effect.
Unfortunately, for me: I am highly sensitive to the stuff. After a period of build, actually a smaller dosage than normally prescribed for someone of my weight, I began to REALLY feel the effects… the side effects. my eyes came close to swelling shut, throat constantly dry and thick to the wear I had trouble swallowing.
I remember sitting at a fast food restaurant trying to ingest a meal of soda and fries… the tremors! my hands and arms shook so violently that I had trouble getting fries in my mouth until I gave up, eyes squinted, and a lethargy that made me look like a shaky zombie. (definitely not like those cool superfast zombies I see on TV. Now that would have been cool!)
This was still better than being “Manic” (An elevated level of mood and energy that made impossible for me to sit still, or do things like read,watch tv, drive, or even walk for a long period of time.) However, I was not one of the fortunate who use this drug successfully…. I would not be able to work or enjoy leisure with lithium
The funny part was the drug to almost as long to get out of my system as it took to build up. Those were the early days of my mental wellness management. I joke about how bad I looked out in public at times, and how I was cursed to wait to I pissed the salt out of my system. Well,I guess you had to be there..
A serious story that is important to know…
I know of a person who says she suffered from major depression for over twenty years. She was prescribed many medications and therapies over the years, including electroconvulsive therapy — the latter is often reserved when no other therapies seem to work. Nothing worked. (She had a physical handicap as well, which further complicated her health woes leading to many stays in the hospital). After twenty years, Someone finally prescribed her a different class of medication than she we would normally be prescribed for severe depression… Her “Wonder Drug”.. in her words.
It was a mood stabilizer called lithium. She would be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II soon after. She told me repeatedly that “Lithium saved her life”. After a few months Her depression cleared, she got back part of her life again. I have not heard from her for along time, but she said was generally happy when we last spoke.
Her success , of course, is important, but…
here is another important observation in mental health:
Many people seek treatment for severe depression and are prescribed anti-depressants… only to experience their depression get significantly worse, including suicidal thoughts.
As it seems, something is physically different in the manifestation that would correctly be diagnosed as Depression and in the manifestation that would be correctly diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder II. Unipolar (major) depression and bipolar disorder in depression be appear outwardly as the same.
But in fact, a therapy of prescribed antidepressants, WITHOUT a mood stabilizer or a like drug can make Bipolar Depression far more severe.
A commonly observed side effect of someone who should receive treatment for Bipolar Disorder, but is only taking Antidepressants is increased mood cycling with with deeper peaks and/or valleys.
A little more about this subject: “Bipolar Disorder: A Mistaken Diagnosis“.
As it turns out: even Clinical Depression and Bipolar Depression can be physically different, just like results of treatment with that commonly prescribed salt.
A treatment that works for one person , may not for the next.
Perhaps we just can’t treat all people to the same, after all.
Forgive my pun-word game… its just a segue for my next post on how my experience with Mental Disorder matured my philosophical approaches and attitude.
If one is suffering from depression, inhibiting levels of anxiousness, or extreme shifts in mood or emotion, enough to seek out professional medical treatment…
Mood Charting can be very advantageous. There is no way to predict completely the outcome of treatment and diagnosis. But one can improve his chances of avoiding misdiagnosis by tracking his/her own shifts and patterns in mood, energy level, focus and behaviours. Getting the correct diagnosis early could certainly improve a consumer’s chance of getting to a functional, productive and happier day-to-day life.
Here is one suggested reason for common misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Depression for Major Depression:
a patient simply doesn’t recognize the brief period of hypomania that they experience. Up moods, with extra energy and alertness can feel good. A person doesn’t normally think or know something is wrong when he/she feels good. He/she fails to describe or report these hypomanic periods to his doctor.
Tracking moods, focus, anxiety, sleep patterns over a long period of time can help doctors detect the right diagnosis.
Examples of mood charts can be downloaded on the CHARTS tab above.