Suggestions for Helping a Friend When They "Shut Down" ?
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Q:  Suggestions for Helping a Friend When They "Shut Down" ?

I have a new  friend and he seems to be in a manic state--then suddenly shuts down...he takes pills for moods and has post traumic stress from vietnam... when he goes into the shut down stage--I have no clue what to do... any suggestions?? for some reason I don't feel like completely leaving him alone is the answer... open for suggestions...


Dear Jí -
If what your friend has is truly "bipolar disorder", based on what appears to be a "manic state", then it is relatively easy to explain the sudden "shut down".  People commonly go straight from a manic episode into a depressed phase.  In the latter, energy levels are extremely low.  People withdraw from social contact.  They sleep a lot.  They talk much less, and their enthusiasm can be low or nonexistent. That could certainly look "shut down".

On the other hand, sometimes posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause quite similar symptoms, both the apparent "manic phase" (although in this case, such symptoms would look more like agitation and irritability and tension, not so much like the classic manic symptoms of grandiosity and decreased need for sleep and so forth), and the withdrawal characteristic of a depressed phase.

In his symptoms are really due to bipolar disorder, you might dig up a lovely book called Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, by Julie Fast.  You may not be in love with this guy yet, but if you get there, you might need the book.  Good luck either way --

Dr. Phelps

Published November, 2008


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