It can be alarming to see you brother try to navigate his way through a challenging diagnosis like depression or bipolar disorder. His symptoms may be alarming for you, and while you’re trying to be supportive, he may feel the world is crashing in. His dramatic reactions can be overwhelming, especially when you had a friend with bipolar disorder who had a volatile temper, it seemed, and seemed hypersexed, but she didn’t act like your brother is acting now. Surely they got his diagnosis wrong. But the doctor says that disorders look different in different people…at different times and under different circumstances.
And it’s good to know.
Charlotte might be a good example.
Charlotte first began to show signs of less confidence and depression around the age of 6. She tried so hard to have a stiff upper lip, to invest her effort and perform well at school to please her parents, and to be industrious. Her parents were always so proud of her. But they didn’t recognize depression in herbecause she tried so hard.
Now, Charlotte’s family already showed signs of psychiatric disorders in other members. Her mom had suffered from depression since childhood, her oldest brother had suffered from depression since he was 4. Plus, her other brother received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. He had actually displayed symptoms since he was a young child. See the similarities?
In addition, Charlotte’s uncle struggled with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. So did her grandfather.
So much going on in Charlotte’s extended family. In fact, so much woven through the whole family.
But in her case, her primary diagnosis turned out to be severe treatment-resistant bipolar disorder. Plus alcohol use disorder, social anxiety, and some phobias.
Happily, her bipolar depression, social anxiety, and alcohol use disorder, eventually improved dramatically. Some aspects reached remission after IV ketamine treatment.
Sometimes depression or bipolar depression expresses itself as anger… even rage. Sometimes it can look like alcohol use disorder. In one person it may look like sadness and despair. In someone else, it may show up as disrespect for others. One person with bipolar disorder may seemed quiet, full of sorrow, and hopeless a lot of the time, but another might feel angry, disillusioned, and seeking revenge. How is it that the same disorder can present so differently? It can look different in different people and with different circumstances.
Lots of people wonder about the same thing. Why does one person with depression act so angry? Then someone else with depression suffers from quiet despair..? One eats carbohydrates in large amounts, and gains weight steadily. While another has no appetite and loses weight at an alarming rate?
Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Disorders have a way of emerging and creating more difficulties. Depression can give way to phobias, weight gain, social anxiety…
Bipolar depression may show up as raging anger at times, unrestrained sexuality at times, and terrible despair in one person. Then, in another person, it may look like self-harming, unlawful behavior, and substance use.
One reason? It’s not uncommon for someone with depression or bipolar depression to also experience anxiety, phobias, hypersexuality, or substance use disorder, alongside the original diagnosis. As a result, you may have a friend or relative who displays a certain cluster of behaviors, and you form the idea that this is what bipolar looks like.
Then, someone else you know is given the same diagnosis, and while they display erratic behavior, it’s nothing like the behavior of your friend.
The same disorder can look really different in different people.
So now you can meet Grayson.
He was first diagnosed with ADHD, then bipolar depression, and finally obesity.
It would be natural to assume that his depression, bipolar depression, and ADHD were all linked to each other. Since some people who exhibit ADHD symptoms as school age children, are later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And depending on the type of depression you have, you may find you eat high carbs, or you may find out you eat very little.
Here’s Grayson’s experience:
In Grayson’s case, ADHD emerged first when he was a child. About 6 years later, bipolar disorder became a more pressing concern, which SEEMED to lead to obesity. When Grayson is experiencing bipolar depression he tends to eat more, sleep lots, and feel listless and without energy.
Disorders look different in different people.
In Grayson’s family, his own son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 7. Then, as he grew he was diagnosed with severe depression. Grayson’s grandmother has suffered from depression all her life. His uncle has struggled with ADHD but learned to manage it in adulthood.
We know that depression, and many other psychiatric disorders, run in families. And these family connections call for us to show compassion for our family members who suffer from their own individual disorders.
If you suffer from depression along with other disorders, and if your current treatment isn’t working, feel free to call us. Or ask your health care team to call us.
We welcome the opportunity to work in conjunction with your healthcare team to help you get better.
At Innovative Psychiatry, it’s true that we see multiple family members who each live with diagnoses and co-morbidities, and it’s true they may sometimes share the same diagnosis … or they may not. Although your symptoms need not necessarily be labeled, they do need to be evaluated as part of your overall self. And then they can be addressed, as needed, with appropriate treatment.
While IV ketamine treatment is not the appropriate treatment for all of the symptoms you experience, we can work with your health care team to try to help you experience your best self.
Does IV ketamine treatment help everyone who tries it? Unfortunately, no. But it does help many achieve remission and build fulfilling lives.
So do try to avoid stressful situations or tasks during this season.
Do make decisions that are productive for your own health and the health of your family.
And do call us if we can help you get better with better with IV ketamine treatment. Give yourself the best opportunity for a fulfilled 2021.
To the restoration of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.