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Dr John B
Dr John B, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  PhD in Clinical Psychology, registered clinical psychologist.
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I have been researching these symptoms of mine for a while

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I have been researching these symptoms of mine for a while and I feel like I may have mild bipolar disorder. I don't have extreme highs or extreme lows but there is a definite pendulum swing. The worse symptoms are racing thoughts and the inability to focus. My thoughts are random but extremely detailed, sometimes I am paralyzed by them until they are over. One example: The other morning I woke up and could not get out of bed because suddenly in my mind I had to read a statement or press release from an air force base that I don't even think exists, and I used words I wouldn't normally use. All of this went on in my head and not out loud but I couldn't start my day until I had "read" it. I have never been in the military and have no ties to it whatsoever. This is the first time my thoughts actually frightened me. My energy levels have been rock bottom for weeks now. Also, I have been going through these strange eating phases. Sometimes I eat normally, most days I don't have much of an appetite. Then there are the strange periods where I eat an obscene amount of food. I mean like $60 worth of food in one sitting, enough for 4 or 5 people. I'm not overweight nor have I ever been. I have always ate a pretty good diet. Lots of vegetables and salads, not so much meat with the occassional pizza and burger thrown in. Another thing that has me worried is I sometimes become very sexually promiscuous. I've been with probably 10 different people in the last 6 weeks. This is very unlike me although I have gone through these sexually high periods before.
I work full time and I am a student. I can't afford to go to the doctor and have tons of tests run. Besides that, I don't want to take medication my entire life. I feel like something is off, maybe something my body needs that it isn't getting? I recently quit smoking but still have the occassional cigarette when the stress and guilt from this kicks in. I had been binge drinking as well, way too much but have sworn off drinking anything now until I find out what is wrong. I thought all the drinking might have made me deficient in B12 or Folic Acid as I have read that recently. I normally exercise 4 or 5 days a week but I can't find the energy to do it anymore. If this is mild bipolar then I want to know what supplements I should be taking and what I need to do to keep it under control so I don't have to take medicine. I know something is off I just can't figure out what it is.


I'm sorry to hear of the situation. I work regularly with Bipolar Disorder and I believe I can be of assistance on this matter. Before we proceed further could you please answer several questions for me:

1) Is there a family history of mental health problems?

2) Have you experienced any major trauma in your life?

3) How is your sleep cycle?

4) Have you recently experienced any head trauma?

5) Have you recently commenced, changed or ceased any medication?

6) How long do you believe you have been experiencing these mood swings?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

1.) There is no family history of mental health problems that I know of.

2.) There has been to major trauma in my life any time recently.

3.) Normally I would go to bed around 10:30pm or so. I have recently been staying up later because my mind races too much if I try to go to bed earlier. Some nights I have stayed up till 3 or 4AM and had to be at work at 8AM.

4.) Have not experienced any head trauma.

5.) I have not. I have never been on any medication ever.

6.) After thinking about it more, I can look back and am pretty confident I can trace these mood swings back at least 7 or 8 years. I'm tracing by thinking of major decisions I have made rather quickly, without thinking them through and were probably looked at by others as irrational.

I've never had anything wrong with me. I've never broken a bone. I've never been in a hospital. I've never taken medication and I rarely get sick, maybe once every couple years get a flu or something.

Thanks for the extra information Paul.

Please bare with me while I ask a few more questions.

You mention that there has been no major trauma recently, was there any serious trauma at any point in you life?

Do you see any connection between these episodes and events in your life? For example work stress, relationship difficulties or financial difficulties?

When you experience racing thoughts do you recognise any other sensations or physical symptoms?

When your sleep reduces significantly do you feel tired as a result or does your need for sleep also reduce?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I've never had much trauma in my life with the exception of grandparents passing and this has been over 10 years ago. I often feel like I have exaggerated high stress. My job is not very stressful and often I am happy with it but a small event can trigger me to become overly frustrated. Like my reaction does not fit with the event. Often this causes me to rant for hours to a friend about it. I don't recognize any other sensations with the racing thoughts but I have been asked a few times about something I do with my hand and fingers. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable for no reason and I run the top of my thumb under the pads of my other fingers and sometimes count by twos as I'm doing it and sometimes just by ones up to ten in my head. I remember this as a kid as well I would flick my fingers on my leg and count. I don't know if I do it when I have racing thoughts or not though. Usually when I don't sleep as much or don't have the need to, I feel more energized. This is how I was just a couple months ago, I would go to bed late and get up early but I would feel energized. When I am in bed longer and I say that instead of sleep because I don't feel like I am really getting good sleep, then I am more tired.


The situation you describe is complex and I'll my offer my impressions at this stage. Firstly, the racing thoughts (having to complete a speech) and counting sound consistent with anxiety difficulty. Specifically, they sound consistent with a disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Let me clarify here that I'm not suggesting that you have OCD, only that you appear to be describing specific anxiety symptoms common to this disorder. Many people experience these symptoms without having the disorder. Would you describe yourself as an anxious person? Are you a worrier?

Secondly, you do appear to be describing a number of mood symptoms that can occur as part of Bipolar Illness. The decreased need for sleep and increased libido are both common symptoms of hypomania (a milder form of the manic phase of Bipolar Illness) and significant changes in appetite can also occur as part of mood disturbance. Do you have any sense of how long a phase goes for and how frequently they occur? I would be particularly interested in the length of phases that involved changes to need for sleep.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I wouldn't describe myself so much as a worrier but I can be a very tense person. I think that tension may very well come from anxiety.

As I've never "given legs" to these symptoms I have not chronicled how often or how long they occur. I know this time where I have slept longer but felt more tired has lasted for 4-6 weeks and still continues. I moved into a new apartment closer to my job on May 25th and I have been fine up until 4-6 weeks ago. During that time from moving in, I was getting 4-6 hours a night, never more than 6 I am sure, and felt energized.

When I think about events of the last year, family get togethers, social outings, etc., I can definitely see that my mood wasn't consistent but I don't know how long it lasted.

If this is a bipolar illness, is there ever a time where I am normal? Or am I constantly going to be up or down? Is there an in between period?

It's impossible to diagnose someone via Just Answer but I would comment that based on what you have described it would be my recommendation that you undergo a specialist assessment for Bipolar mood disturbance. Many people experience unstable mood of a Bipolar nature that never develop the full illness and you certainly don't describe a set of symptoms that meet criteria for the full illness. However, you do describe a couple of symptoms that are consistent with Bipolar, the estimates of phase length are consistent and the age of onset is roughly what we often see, so......while it doesn't sound like you are experiencing full blown BPD you are describing enough similarities to warrant it being assessed.

It's really important that you be assessed as people with a vulnerability to Bipolar illness (or people who have a very mild form of it) can be very sensitive to certain medications and even some supplements. So before you go down the path of using any kind of compound (be it natural or pharmaceutical) I would suggest you at least have th e possibility of Bipolar Illness cleared.

I suspect that you do experience rather high levels of anxiety and I base this suspicion on the fact that you describe transient obsessive and compulsive symptoms - something that is often a sign of very high stress levels. How your anxiety processes are interacting with the mod symptoms you are experiencing would be something that needs to be determined through a more detailed assessment.

If what you are describing does turn out to be Bipolar in nature then it is impossible to make predictions about the future course of the instability you are experiencing. Mood disturbance is highly idiosyncratic and there is no way to predict future course based on theory alone. In saying that, Bipolar Illnesses usually have phases of relatively 'normal' mood. In fact, for most people these periods are far more frequent than the more acute symptomatic phases. Bipolar illness is very sensitive to stress and I wonder if perhaps you are more aware of the issue at the moment due to recent stressful events such as moving house/home.

Mild Bipolar disturbance can be managed without using medications so a trip to the Psychiatrist for an assessment would not necessarily mean commencing medications. How would you feel about getting a formal Psychiatric assessment?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I don't know what a psychiatric assessment would include. I'm a firm believer that everyone has problems and we can usually overcome them. My move was not stressful and made my life less stressful so I don't make the connection there. I am usually a very logical person so I don't completely grasp the mental illnesses. I am more inclined to get the assessment because I don't want to take supplements that start to make the condition worse. I will look into it in my area and see if I can get a price of the assessment. I was wondering if trouble remembering is also a sign of any bipolar illness? That has been troubling me for a while now and sometimes I can't even remember people's names even though I actually know them. I just wonder if this is part of the not being able to focus condition or maybe not connected at all.

Is there any accreditation that I should look for in getting an assessment? I sincerely ***** ***** the information you have provided. I know there isn't a quick fix for this but I think this information will put me on the right path.

A Psychiatric assessment usually includes several meetings with either a Psychiatrist or a Clinical Psychologist during which they ask you many specific & detailed questions about what you are experiencing and you background. If you imagine a far more detailed version of the type of conversation we have been having here then you will have a pretty good idea of what an assessment is like.

I'm a Clinical Psychologist but in this circumstance I would suggest you be assessed by a Psychiatrist as the treatment for Bipolar Illness usually involves medication (not always and hopefully it won't turn out to be relevant to your situation). If you see a Clinical Psychologist for the assessment and they suspect BPD they will refer you on to a you might as well skip that step and go straight to the Psychiatrist. If you have a local doctor they will be able to arrange a referral for you. If not, contact The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services here for assistance with locating federally-funded health centers in your area. These centers can provide services even if you have no health insurance. You pay what you can afford, based on your income. Type in your address and click the 'Find Health Centers' button to find health centers near you.

The memory difficulty may well be connected to the anxiety. memory difficulty is usually only associated with mood disturbance when i is more severe but it occurs quite readily when anxiety is elevated. Again, the presence of potential OCD type symptoms makes me suspect that you do experience high levels of anxiety and my first suspicion would be that the memory difficulty may be connected to this. Regardless, the Psychiatric assessment will certainly review this aspect of what you are presently experiencing.

Did you have any other questions you wished to ask in relation to what we have discussed so far?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I do not have anything else that I can think of. Again, thank you for explaining things so clearly. This has really helped and hopefully will be motivation to take the next step.

You are very welcome Paul. If I can ever be of further assistance please feel free to contact me. I wish you the best of luck!
Dr John B and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Paul,
I hope you have made some progress arranging an assessment.
If I can be of further help, or if you ever have other questions in the future, please don't hesitate to contact me directly. You can do this by simply putting "For Dr John B" at the start of any question you post.

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