A Personal Experience of Learning About Bipolar Disorder Essay

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A Personal Experience of Learning About Bipolar Disorder

My daughter Ashley, an engaging, highly intelligent, beautiful and artistically talented teenager, suffers from a life threatening genetic illness. It is an illness of extremes with a high, some estimates are as much as 20%, mortality rate. It is sometimes, as with my daughter, difficult to treat. It is always difficult for those so afflicted and their families. The contemporary nomenclature for this disease is Bi-Polar Disorder (1). But I prefer the more descriptive, no longer politically correct name, Manic Depression.

Most of us understand the dangers inherent in depression and its associated high risk of suicide. Over the last three years my daughter has employed some
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This is where a form of mania where the person is extremely anxious, hostile and self-destructive called dysphoria (4), occurs simultaneously with the suicidal tendencies of the depressed state. Closely related to the mixed phase, and also among the symptoms experienced by my daughter, is that which is known as "rapid cycling (3). This is defined as "four or more complete mood cycles within a year's time, and some rapid-cyclers can complete a mood cycle in a matter of days--or, more rarely, [as has my daughter] in hours" (3) (2).

Rapid cycling (3), as well as other forms of pharmacologically induced hypomania/mania (5), as my family has learned, can be the direct result of the use of antidepressant medications. Over the course of four years and approximately 30 different psychoactive pharmacidicals my daughter's experiences have been illustrative of how the use of one medication often leads directly to the use of others. And we have seen many of the numerous problems that can be medication induced.

Such experiences began after several months of working with a psychologist and no discernable change in the profound depression which gripped my then 13-year-old daughter. She was referred to her first psychiatrist who prescribed the antidepressant medication Nortriptyline (6). This led directly to her diagnoses as Bipolar. Within hours of her first dose, Ashley began to