Most misunderstood symptom of bipolar disorder that divides families, shames sufferers, and hurts those who love them… BEGS to be treated before damage is done.
It was 1am. Deftly, he slid the window open and quietly climbed into the room. In a moment his clothes were off and he was under the covers. 14-year-old Jillian whispered, “What took you so long?”
Bernie, who was 15, whispered, “My parents took forever to go to bed. I’m so glad you’re still awake, and so glad you didn’t scream when I opened the window!”
“Bernie, you should go home. What if my parents check on me..?”
“Don’t worry, Jillz. They’ll never know I’m here. Everything’s ok.”
Then, he moved above her in the dark, and began to kiss her…
Shocking, even horrifying for parents. But when a teenager has bipolar disorder, parental structure and rules aren’t enough to dampen overwhelming urges.
And sadly, the teenager begins to develop a reputation for making trouble before he even knows who he is.
Emotionally charged…? You bet.
Damaging labels? Oh yes.
Challenging for parents to respond productively? More than words can say…
But an early teenager usually doesn’t have the mental/emotional equipment, no matter how balanced he may be, to manage such compelling, overwhelming impulses and urges.
You try it with the same circumstances.
Add to that a disordered early teenager smack in the middle of puberty who also is suffering from bipolar disorder where the upswings presents with hypersexuality…?
And sadly, sometimes these kids who don’t know how to handle the urges can’t imagine having the forethought of contraception… and somebody is likely to get pregnant. Disaster compounds upon crisis, critical illness, and parents are hit with it all at once.
Then, think about this scenario…
Is It Betrayal…? Or a Symptom??
Dahlia was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 12… and she’d had quite a few episodes of mania over the years. Now she was nearly 30, and had been married for years.
As the pits and darkness…the isolation and emptiness…of depression began to dissipate, and she was beginning to see the light of day again…she noticed something new rising up. At first she thought it was just the relief of feeling better…but as it slowly grew in intensity she couldn’t ignore it anymore.
For awhile, she and her husband were having delightful “private times” together. It was the best bedroom fun they’d ever had. She felt on top of the world. And she felt more and more charming, more clever. She laughed easily, chattered with sparkle…and she began to think she must be the most entertaining person in the world.
But as her twinkle and charm ballooned, so did her capacity for arousal. And her efforts to satiate her desire just weren’t enough. Not in the bedroom, not with her husband…whom she loved with all her heart…not as the “belle of the ball” when entertaining at home or at the holiday cocktail party at her work.
It wasn’t long before she was aroused at work, during lunch, in meetings with co-workers… Not knowing what to do about it, she’d excuse herself and go to the restroom.
Finally late one night while her husband was asleep…she found one of those “hookup” websites she’d heard about and signed up. Wild, right? Within minutes…someone contacted her.
She never intended to act on it. And never intended to be unfaithful to her sweet and supportive husband. She had reached the point that her ears were ringing from the constant arousal…and she reached out to find release…relief.
And hated herself immediately.
Her husband was devastated. So were her friends. So she called her psychiatrist who adjusted her medications to help bring her back into balance. Then professional counseling, with her heartbroken husband, to help them heal and put boundaries and safe guards in place to ward off the triggers.
Think This Sounds Like an Excuse for Bad Behavior?
So many behaviors of people with bipolar disorder seem like poor self-control. Which it is…and that’s the point.
We don’t judge a person who has no legs for not walking. A person with severe bipolar disorder is missing his self-control, his judgment, and his ability to weigh consequences as if he was missing his “legs.”
So, let’s start by acknowledging yes, this condition can be emotionally-charged for loved ones.
Hypersexuality…sounds rather scientific…doesn’t it..? If you didn’t know better, you might think it was caused by a virus…like diarrhea or rhinitis might be… But if you heard this condition was afflicting your spouse or child, the SEX part of it would probably catch your attention pretty quick!
And yes…symptoms can also result in betrayal.
But there’s a difference between virus symptoms and bipolar disorder symptoms… when someone with bipolar disorder acts on hypersexuality, people can get hurt, disasters can happen, friendships can be broken, and marriages betrayed.
How can a symptom hurt anyone besides the person who’s ill?
Because hypersexuality usually involves someone else…or multiple “someone elses.”
Hypersexuality is when someone has an intensely increased, overwhelmingly strong, desire for sex.
And in bipolar disorder, it can accompany mania. It’s not a part of that person’s character. It’s caused by the disorder in their brain.
Here’s another definition: Any compulsive sexual behavior that interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on the family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.
You might say, well why didn’t he/she resist the urges?
Try this: Picture yourself inhaling a bowl of black pepper through your nose.. Now…don’t sneeze.
Like with a sneeze, it’s difficult to resist an overwhelming urge.
What causes hypersexuality in people who suffer from bipolar disorder?
In a review of the literature published in Cureus in Oct 2015, Kenneth Blum and his team wrote that the nucleus accumbens (located within the ventral striatum, not far from the amygdala) controls behaviors evoked by incentive stimuli.
More simply, when you do something knowing there’ll be a reward for it, this structure mandates your behavior. So think of things like eating, drinking, and sex.
They make the point that an imperative rule of positive reinforcement is that the response increases in magnitude and strength if it’s followed by reward.
So whatever you do that gives you a sexual reward, you’re likely to do more often and with more intensity to get more reward.
For someone who suffers from severe bipolar disorder with hypersexuality, the sexual reward is worth seeking with massive passion. And when you take into account the impulsivity that goes with bipolar disorder, considering consequences in advance of action is just too big an order.
In her article in EverydayHealth on hypersexuality and bipolar disorder, Diana Rodriguez points out that an increased interest in sex isn’t of itself a problem. But, when the “heightened sense of sexuality” is paired with bipolar manic symptoms like impulsivity, risk-taking, and poor judgment, the resulting behavior can be damaging to far too many aspects of your life.
So what can you do?
First, call your psychiatrist. She can help bring your symptoms under control with medication. When your symptoms are controlled, the urges will most likely dissipate.
Second, therapy and counseling for you and your loved ones. Information is power. Communicate with your loved ones about this symptom, and build a plan with your therapist for treating the sexual arousal when it shows up again.
You need to break the mania, and hope you come in for a smooth landing. Without falling through the floor and into another depressive episode
But What If You Fall Through the Floor?
Sometimes what happens when mania breaks is a depression so deep and unrelenting that nothing can lift it. If that’s where you are, you may want to consider a novel advanced treatment that’s demonstrated it can help in the majority of cases that weren’t relieved by other medicines. IV ketamine treatment.
Since bipolar depression can include agitation and a sense of worthlessness, it’s important to effectively treat it before you have suicidal thoughts or immediately after they start. Those who suffer with untreated bipolar disorder have a high risk for suicidal thoughts.
Thankfully, ketamine for suicidal thoughts is one of the best and most rapid treatments we have for suicidal thinking. It can stop suicidal thoughts in 4 hours … and usually far less.
Ketamine treatment shows extraordinary effectiveness in relieving bipolar disorder symptoms.
So…maybe you’re asking yourself, How do I find the most skilled treatment with ketamine from a psychiatrist near me?
At Innovative Psychiatry in South Windsor, CT ketamine for depression, bipolar depression, and other mood disorders can help patients with terrible depressive symptoms who haven’t been helped by any other medicines or treatments.
Ketamine is so effective with depression. Although it doesn’t work for everyone, in most cases it does, like gangbusters.
If you suffer from severe bipolar disorder, and have been failed by other medicines and treatments offered you, it doesn’t help to think that you’re “treatment-resistant.” You just need something that works in a better way.
Think about ketamine treatment — administered with skill, insight, and psychiatric expertise to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
Bipolar disorder can be one of the most devastating psychiatric disorders, and can cause extensive damage in your life, until it’s treated. But you can get your life back and enjoy it again. You don’t have to be driven by the symptoms you experience or suffer with shame from the damage they’ve caused.
Call us, and let us help you find the life you long to live.
To the reinvigoration of your best self,