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Dr_Anderson
Dr_Anderson, Doctor
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 335
Experience:  Psychiatrist
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My son was diagnosed with bipolar 11 disorder several years

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My son was diagnosed with bipolar 11 disorder several years ago. He found the way the psychiatrist advised him was so negative he decided to solve the problem his own way. This has not worked. What are our options for getting him treatment and help?

Dr_Anderson :

Greetings and thank you for your question. I'm sorry your son and you, his parents, are going through all of this! Bipolar is a tough (but not impossible!) disease to treat. Part of the challenge is that many people with bipolar refuse to acknowledge that they have it, or refuse to get treated for it. I'm not sure which category (or both!) he falls into, but the fact of the matter is, until he becomes willing to get and stay in treatment, the options to you, his parents, are very limited.

Dr_Anderson :

Certainly, you can apply pressure financially (i.e., "Get treatment or you'll have to move out") but those strategies often fail or backfire. Tough love is hard to apply when the person already feels miserable.

Dr_Anderson :

One way to help him is to encourage him to get back in with a psychiatrist, but a different one. You can help him in this regard by asking around for recommendations from people you know: do they know any psychiatrists who treat patients with bipolar disorder and are the kind of personality that would fit your son? Get a list of names, contact their offices, and see gow they "feel" to you over the phone. Of course, it is up to him to actually go, but if you have the legwork done and also can say that someone you know goes or trusts the person, that may encourage him to go.

Dr_Anderson :

Also, have him do his own research into bipolar, blogs from other patients with it, etc. The more he sees that other people have had it, gotten treatment for it, and done well, the more it will encourage him to seek treatment, too.

Dr_Anderson :

"An Unquiet Mind," by Kay Jamison, is a must-read for you and him. She is a professor at Hopkins who suffers from bipolar. The book is an autobiography of her struggles (including her many moves overseas!).

Dr_Anderson :

Next, reassuring him that this is a disease, just like diabetes or asthma, is important. It was not his choice to have it, but it is his choice what to do with it. And like those diseases, it is quite treatable, with treatments that don't have to be horrible or limiting.

Dr_Anderson :

Ultimately, he must decide. But these are places you can begin or focus upon. Best wishes to you all! Please let me know if I may be of further service.

Dr_Anderson :

Regards,

Dr_Anderson :

Dr. Anderson

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Dear Dr Anderson
Thank you so much. I think the situation has now worsened.My son became very angry and smashed a bottle on the table, I was alone with him and left the house and called his father and brothers to come. We discussed the situation with him. He adamantly denies he is ill in any way and all he needs to do is "get moving" He says he cannot get a job because he hates travelling on the trains and that and I have clipped his wings but asking for my car to be returned (he had incurred a number of speeding fines and the demerit points affect my licence). He stated to me he would rather be under a train than in it. He then left the house to go to a friend's party and has stayed away overnight. I am now concerned that he may attempt to take his life. He says things like "Canada is where my life is, I left my car and things there so I intend to return. I 'll make it there or end it there. This gives me the energy to do it (he means succeed with a professional job and access to the mountains and skiing). He does not want any way saying negative things to him such as references to his health. He has started drinking quite heavily (he never was a drinker before) and says he is not motivated to exercise. He has asked his brothers to buy out his share of a house to give him the money to go back to Canada. We do not want to do that as we think it will be very bad for him alone in another country with no money( his credit cards are maxed out). Are we correct in refusing him further money? I am so concerned as he is so unhappy here in Australia his home but how would he be alone in Canada? If he continues to refuse to accept he has an illness and continue to refuse to see professionals I am at loss. My darling son is so beautiful and highly educated. It is breaking my heart to see this.
Greetings,

I'm sorry things have worsened! They typically do in untreated bipolar disorder. You are absolutely correct in not enabling him by providing him with money. He is not his normal self, and thus his judgment and insight are impaired. With his efforts to sell off his share of the home as well as his fatalistic statements, I am worried he may be suicidal. The rate of suicide attempts is notable in untreated bipolar disorder, so as his loved ones please have a low threshold for getting him to the hospital.

I'm not sure what the laws and options are in Australia, but in the States a person can be compelled to go to the Emergency Department if they are felt to be a danger to themself or others. Unfortunately, it is not possible to give a person the insight into their need for treatment. Sometimes it takes the tremendous effort of loved ones, recurrent ER visits, and "falling on one's face" a few times before deciding that the turmoil is not worth the denial.

I am so sorry you are going through this. You obviously love your son and are worried sick for him. Hang in there, though, keep encouraging him, but don't enable him (presume he is not in the frame of mind to make wise decisions), and see what options from this and the prior post are viable for you guys.

Hang in there! Please let me know if I may be of further help.

Regards,

Dr. Anderson
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