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DrFee , Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience:  I help people overcome anxiety and enjoy life again.
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Can Bipolar Disorder occur after a traumatic incident? Or is

Customer Question

Can Bipolar Disorder occur after a traumatic incident? Or is an individual suffering from bipolar aware of his or her symptoms? I have had one Medical doctor diagnose me with depression, and anxiety, and another say I may have bipolar disorder. I looked up my symptoms, early morning anxiety, with racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, panic attacks, and sometimes depression in the middle of the day that lasts for a while. Some articles say that if a person wakes up with racing thoughts and anxiety that person may have bipolar disorder, and other articles say that a person with these same symptoms may have General Anxiety Disorder with Depression. I am not a doctor but I have met people with Bipolar Disorder, and these people don’t seem to be aware of their erratic behavior. I can feel my symptoms come on and I am aware when I am either anxious or depressed. Which one of the two diagnoses mentioned above is more likely to be the correct one?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  DrFee replied 4 years ago.

Hello Again,

Thank you for requesting me. While I can't give you a definitive diagnosis over the internet, I can give you some information that might help clear up some of the confusion for you.

In order to be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, one must experience either manic or hypomanic (not as severe as manic) episodes in addition to depressive episodes.

Here are some of the criteria for a Manic Episode:

A. A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least 1 week (or any duration if hospitalization is necessary). (A hypomanic episode can last 4 days)

B. During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (four if the mood is only irritable and have been present to a significant degree:

(1) inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
(2) decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
(3) more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
(4. Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
(5. Distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
(6) increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation (means you move around quite a bit)
(7) excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)

As you can see, there's some overlap with the racing thoughts and inability to concentrate, BUT there's at least 2 important differences here:

1. Someone in a manic episode can't "come out of it" on their own or with tools to calm down

2. Like you said, people in a manic episode are often unaware of their behavior and don't feel it coming on generally. The behavior is often extreme --buying sprees, sex sprees, eating a lot and very fast, driving fast, talking very fast and pressured. Sometimes there's delusions or at the very least thoughts don't hang together really clearly

People with Generalized anxiety disorder generally don't experience panic attacks, rather they experience intense worry about a wide range of things.

It's possible to have several different anxiety disorders at one time. Depression is a common occurrence with anxiety disorders, and either can follow the other (anxiety can make you depressed and being depressed can make people anxious).

In order to get a proper diagnosis, you should see a Psychologist --besides a clinical interview he/she can give you some assessments in order to clarify the diagnosis.

Here's a bipolar screening test you can take:

Why don't you take the quiz, tell me the results and we'll go from there?


Dr. Fee

DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience: I help people overcome anxiety and enjoy life again.
DrFee and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks I scored low. Can depression, and anxiety go hand and hand?
Expert:  DrFee replied 4 years ago.

OK, not that a screening quiz can definitively rule in/out a diagnosis, scoring low does point away from that possibility.

Yes, depression and anxiety for SURE go hand in hand. It can go either way, anxiety makes some people depressed, and some depressed people get really anxious!

And, some people who suffer from depression, think that they might be Bipolar when they don't feel so depressed! I've seen people when they feel OK, think they might be manic --but really they are so used to the depression that they don't know what normal feels like.

Thank you so much for the accept, generous bonus and excellent rating! I do appreciate it!!!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello again, I finally weaned off the Zoloft after a bout of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and dizzy spells I was experiencing the second time I weaned off it. I felt okay for a few weeks, but my anxiety started to creep back on. I experienced feelings of needing to hurry up and do all the days’ tasks as soon as I can. Restlessness easily agitated, nervous, but no panic attacks this time around thank god. I started on Effexor the 37.5 mg once daily. It has stopped the racy thoughts, nervousness and has slowed me down, but now I am experiencing feelings of utter blue and being down in the dumps. I never have had that before except on seldom occasions depending on the events in my life. Is this a side effect? Or is it because I am into two weeks of this therapy? After My last bout with withdrawal from the Zoloft I do not wish to go any higher than the dosage I am on. Your professional opinion would be greatly appreciated.

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  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
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  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
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