Hi, I hope you find the time to read this...I really need your advise.
I've been in counseling for almost a year now. Most of the time it's been
depression or suicidal, but none of my treatments have seemed to have any effect
on me at all. Lately, I thought I've been getting better, and it seems to get
worse. I've had some horrible outbreaks for no reason, aggression out of no
cause, little sleep, depression, and continuous mood swings, which all seem to
be symptoms of bipolarism. My cousin is bipolar, and 5 females in my family use
antidepressants. My therapist has advised me to talk to a psychiatrist, but I am
unsure of what to do. I am 15, an all honors student, a varsity soccer player,
and I have a whole life out ahead of me. I don't want to spend the rest of my
life living like this, and I need to know what you think. I would be so
grateful if you would respond to this.
I'm hoping my response gives you some cause for optimism. If you are
concerned about the possibility of serious clinical depression and/or bipolar
disorder, the best thing to do is to talk to your therapist and parents and
locate a CHILD/ADOLESCENT psychiatrist who is knowledgeable about this to see
for an evaluation. While counseling is an important part of treatment,
sometimes it is simply not sufficient alone to manage serious clinical
depression and certainly NOT bipolar disorder.
Be relentless in getting the correct diagnosis from a knowledgeable
psychiatrist. Don't be afraid to communicate openly about all of your behaviors
and symptoms and select a psychiatrist, along with your therapist, who is
persistent in getting as much accurate information from you as possible. It's
good to be aware of your family history for evaluation purposes but don't
compare others negative experiences to those you might have. Don't be afraid of
the idea of taking medication if it is recommended to you but be an informed
consumer. Make sure you understand the reasons for taking it and its potential
Whether or not you are diagnosed with a particular disorder, it is
important for your mental health to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle as it
sounds like you already do. Make sure you get sufficient rest, regular
exercise, eat a balanced diet, work at managing your own stress level, and avoid
alcohol or other drugs.
Again, talk to your therapist and the adults in your life whom you trust
and proceed with seeing a child/adolescent psychiatrist knowledgeable about
bipolar disorder. Don't be afraid. You are not alone. I have listed several
helpful resources below:
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, (800) 826-3632;
National Mental Health Association, (800) 969-6642;
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, (800) 950-6264;
David Schafer, M.Ed.
Published July, 2006