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 Marcia Purse

Bipolar Disorder Blog

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Parkinsonian Symptoms May Be Side Effect of Some BP Meds

Saturday May 31, 2014
What are parkinsonian symptoms? They include tremor and slowing of movement, among others. When they are caused by a medication, the condition is called secondary parkinsonism. The condition is treatable, but of course, medications to treat parkinsonism have their own side effects, too.

Have you experienced secondary parkinsonism? The most common culprit in causing this is any antipsychotic medication. If you've had parkinsonian symptoms, leave a comment telling about it.
~Marcia

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Three Bipolar Medications Unsafe During Pregnancy

Saturday May 31, 2014
Meds unsafe during pregnancyWhile there are many concerns about taking medications for bipolar disorder during pregnancy, three drugs sometimes prescribed for bipolar disorder are considered entirely unsafe for pregnant women. These three drugs have a high risk of causing birth defects or causing infants to go through withdrawal. For more information, read Which Bipolar Drugs Are Not Safe During Pregnancy?

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Anatomy of a Meltdown

Saturday May 31, 2014
Read a story of a bipolar woman's sudden, terrifying thought, its consequences, and how she dealt with it.

Anatomy of a Meltdown
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Hypomania Quiz

Saturday May 31, 2014
Do you suspect you are having, or have had in the past, one or more hypomanic episodes? Here's a quiz that will help you answer the question. It is not a diagnostic tool, but will give you information you can talk to a doctor about.

Bipolar Hypomania Quiz
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Do You Stress Yourself in the Spring?

Saturday May 31, 2014
Star MagnoliaI do. Every year. As I wrote some years ago in Overcommitment = Stress Squared, I always seem to order too much for my garden and am left to wonder how in heck I'm going to plant it all. I've done it again this year, though not to the degree I wrote about then, when I had 160 different varieties of plants to put in the ground.

Spring seems to be a time for projects! Spring cleaning, gardening, home improvements, new resolutions to get out and walk or bicycle or swim for exercise, signing the kids up for summer classes and recreation, planning a vacation - it's spring, let's just DO it!

Me, I never learn. My good intentions to restrain myself never succeed. I just got a notice in email that 6 perennials, 2 shrubs and a 6 foot tree have been shipped from a mail-order nursery. Yes, I really ordered them. And if that was all I had ordered, it would be great. But that's just one order out of at least eight. This morning I almost placed another order for about 18 plants and bulbs. I want them. It's spring!

Do you stress yourself in spring, too? Leave a comment.

Photo ©2010 by Marcia Purse. All rights reserved.

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Trileptal

Saturday May 31, 2014
Recently a lot of people have been searching the internet for information about Trileptal, which is an anticonvulsant drug (that is, it helps control seizures in conditions such as epilepsy) used as a mood stabilizer in treating bipolar disorder. The search popularity may be because Trileptal is weight-neutral, unlike some other drugs in its class.

Trileptal has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of bipolar disorder, but it has been prescribed off-label for years for this use. Read the Trileptal Drug Profile for information about this drug, including major side effects and risks during pregnancy.
~Marcia

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Have You Read "An Unquiet Mind"?

Saturday May 31, 2014
If you haven't, you should. Everyone who experiences mania and depression will benefit from reading this book. Every doctor, judge, police officer and criminal or family attorney should be required to read it. And every family member and friend of someone diagnosed with manic depression, especially bipolar I and II disorders, or of someone exhibiting the symptoms, will gain from reading Kay Redfield Jamison's courageous autobiography.

Attorney and author Melody Moezzi, on National Public Radio's You Must Read This, said "An Unquiet Mind is, without a doubt, the most brilliant and brutally honest book I've ever read about bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depression). I've read nothing else that has better captured the torment and elation of this strange illness, nor have I ever felt compelled to recommend any other book on the topic to 'outsiders.' "

I agree - you must read An Unquiet Mind.
~Marcia

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Bipolar Patients at Risk for High Blood Pressure?

Saturday May 31, 2014
A small study at Michigan State University found that 45% of male participants with bipolar disorder had hypertension - high blood pressure - compared with 30.5% of the general population. A high percentage of these men were smokers, and more than a third were obese.

The study didn't factor in the medications the men had taken in the past or were currently taken, and the authors acknowledged that there were a lot of things that could be contributing to a higher rate of hypertension. Many psychiatric medications cause weight gain, which very often leads to high blood pressure.

Smoking has also been connected to high blood pressure, and it's not surprising that so many of the men in the study were smokers. Last year I reported on a study that found people with bipolar disorder were more than 7 times as likely to be current daily smokers than the general population. Results of the admittedly unscientific poll attached to that blog seem to confirm this, too: 51% of those responding were current smokers and only 13% said they had never smoked.

I never had hypertension, even though it is common in my family history, until I began gaining weight from psychiatric medications. As my weight rose, so did my blood pressure, until finally I was put on medication to control it.

How about you?

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Do Something Unusual to Help With Depression

Tuesday May 27, 2014
I received a message from someone named John that I find really fascinating. It's the story of how, while in a black depression, he was able to revive his brain by doing something very much out of the ordinary.

The lower I go, the less I want or can do without severe struggle. The most mundane and simple tasks become brutal murder to accomplish, including but not limited to getting out of bed. I was close to suicide ideation once, very very low. I thought that I should try to eat something, make something to eat; I looked at a brand new 2 pack of Jiffy peanut butter jars shrink wrapped in plastic on the shelf in the cupboard, and just started crying thinking about how incredibly impossible it was going to be for me to open it. It seemed that difficult.

Lighted reindeerI've found that doing something completely odd and unusual was easier than doing something routine. One Christmas season, when ultra-depressed, routine things were, of course, a struggle - but I was able to repair and restore three of those white, wire-form Xmas-light lawn reindeer figures and set them up out in the lawn.

I was also able to do some other very nice outdoor Xmas decorating that year - slowly, but it worked for me. I remember thinking how odd it was. It took hours and hours of playing with 100's of little lights to get them working properly and reattached properly to the wire frames, and looking nice. I couldn't do laundry worth a damn, but restoring light up Xmas reindeer I could accomplish without wanting to blow my brains out.

I believe whatever is going on with our brain materials and chemistry, the brain goes looking for stimulation not in the routine things we do everyday, but in the odd, unique things that get its attention, that stimulate it, that wakes it up - maybe to help keep it from completely shutting down.
I want to try this technique! Focus can be extremely difficult for me during depressive episodes, and the idea of doing something off-the-wall intrigues me no end. I think I'd have to come up with the idea at the time: if I planned out some unusual activities beforehand, they wouldn't seem unique when I needed them.

What do you think about this? One thing I'm sure of is that I want to remember it so I can give it a try when I need to break out of a serious depression.

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Learn About Lexapro

Wednesday April 30, 2014
Lexapro - escitalopram
Lexapro is one of the SSRI antidepressants and was created from Celexa (citalopram). The generic name of Lexapro is escitalopram.

There are several warnings about Lexapro, especially about mixing it with other drugs and over-the-counter supplements, and discontinuing Lexapro treatment too quickly can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects.

This Lexapro Drug Profile will give you in-depth information about this antidepressant.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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Richard Dreyfuss - Bipolar is just part of me

Tuesday April 22, 2014
Richard Dreyfuss early in his career
Richard Dreyfuss early in his career
John Minihan / Getty Images

When young Richard Dreyfuss, in a haze of drugs and alcohol, drove his car into a tree, he probably didn't realize that he was self-medicating for the symptoms of bipolar disorder he'd had since at least his early teens. He certainly didn't think it would derail his film career - but that's what happened. It would be many years before he was properly diagnosed, and when he was, he found it a blessing, because it explained so much.
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The method of my madness...

Tuesday April 22, 2014
by Michael (Akikaze)

I cried out in the morning
My echo returned, singing the glories of the new dawn
Ecstasy and exultation
Bells pealed in raucous celebration
Welcoming Eden
Flowers strewn across the path
By dancers on parade

I cried out in the afternoon
An echo returned, muffled in approaching storm clouds
Anxiety and anticipation
Bells rang a dire warning
And fog encompassed Paradise
Fearful children clogged the path
Refugees on parade

I cried out during the night
No echo returned. A shout in deafening silence.
Misery and madness
Bells tolled in anguished mourning
A dirge played in Hell
Ashes dust the empty path
Ghosts on parade.


Michael (Akikaze) is a member of our Bipolar Disorder community, and originally posted this poem in our Forum.

Visit the Creative Expressions Forum.

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Evidence Shows Bipolar II is as Disabling as Bipolar I - For Different Reasons

Tuesday April 22, 2014
Bipolar I and IIIt's pretty common to think of bipolar II disorder as being a "less serious" illness than bipolar I, but Drs. Holly A. Swartz, and Michael E. Thase concluded differently. According to their article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, bipolar II "is at least as disabling as bipolar I disorder." The reasons given are that people with bipolar II:
  • Experience a more chronic course of illness,
  • Have more lifetime days spent depressed, and
  • Have a lower probability of returning to prior levels of functioning between episodes
than those with bipolar I disorder.

If you're diagnosed with bipolar II, does this analysis change the way you think about your illness, or just seem to confirm what you felt about it already? Many people have already shared their thoughts - what are yours?

Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar II Disorder
Differences Between Bipolar I and Bipolar II

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Reader Says Bipolar Is a Myth

Tuesday April 8, 2014
Nearly two years ago, now, a reader named Beidoj left this comment on the blog What Is Dysphoric Mania?. A lot of you replied to this blog already, but enough time has passed that I think it's worthwhile to give newer readers - or those who missed this at the time - a chance to react. Beidoj said:
Bipolar is a myth! Every symptom of Bipolar is a natural human trait which has simply been blown out of proportion to what society believes is normal. Every human being has the potential to be labelled with Bipolar and many are being labelled with it just because they don't conform to the "norm."
Manic satyr in mythologyMental illness is more often than not caused by trauma (both physical and mental) or actual brain damage. Bipolar is not a mental illness, it is a label given to people who find it hard to cope with themselves, need attention and are who want to be cared for and controlled by medication. People are just individuals trying to belong in a sociological system controlled by conformist who want us all not to buck their system.

Read More...

Hypomanic - I don't need to sleep, so why should I?

Monday April 7, 2014
Woohoo! Hypomania!
When I woke up the morning after taking a prescribed sleep medication for the first time, I nearly cried with joy: it was the first good night's sleep I'd had in 20 years. So you can see that I need help to sleep properly. Without meds it can take me an hour to fall asleep, and then I wake up over and over and am unrefreshed in the morning. I love my sleep meds - BUT...

Along comes hypomania, a rare occurrence for me. It didn't last long, but at its peak, I was so full of energy that the last thing I wanted to do was take my sleepy pills and break the mood.

My doctor, not surprisingly, didn't approve. I discussed this with the Facebook community, and they had plenty to say: Photo: Digital Vision / Getty Images
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Buying Medications Online? Think Again

Tuesday April 1, 2014
No Prescription NecessaryMost of the time, buying medications online just isn't safe.

When the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy reviewed a large sample of online pharmacies, it found that only 3 percent were in compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards. Worse yet, says the FDA, it isn't always easy to tell a fake site from one that is legitimate.

The consequences of purchasing drugs over the internet can be serious. The FDA says, "The drugs you receive may look real, but they could be counterfeit, contaminated, expired or otherwise unsafe. If you receive counterfeit or substandard medicines, they could keep you from getting better, make you sick or worse."

Since even approved generic drugs can sometimes cause problems to individual patients, think how much worse those problems can be from a fake or adulterated drug!

Read More...

Men over 45 more likely to father children with mental illnesses

Tuesday March 25, 2014
A recently published study supports previous research that the risk of having a child who develops a mental illness is increased when the father is over 45. Bipolar disorder is one of the specific conditions that occurs more frequently in children whose fathers were older at the time of conception.

Conducted in Sweden, the study looked at more than 2 million families. The researchers compared, for example, siblings who were born before and after their fathers turned 45, to determine whether mental illnesses were more prevalent in the younger children than the older. Based on these and other findings, it became clear that the age of the father plays a significant role in the risk of mental illnesses in his children. What about you, or your children who have bipolar? Was your, or their, father 45 or older at conception? (My father was not, by the way, but there is a history of mental disorders on both sides of my family.)

Photo: Nasir Khan / Morguefile
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Autism more likely when a parent has schizophrenia or bipolar disorder

Tuesday March 18, 2014
In 2012, in the first large-scale research of its kind, researchers who looked at three studies with data from Israel, Sweden, and Stockholm County within Sweden, found an almost three times higher than average risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in children who have at least one parent with schizophrenia, and 2.6 times greater when a sibling has schizophrenia.

A child was almost twice as likely to have an ASD when a parent had bipolar disorder, and 1.6 times more likely if there was a sibling with bipolar.

Read More...

Self-Test for Bipolar Mania

Tuesday March 18, 2014
Take the testDo you suspect you might be in the throes of a manic episode, or have had one in the past? Take this test to help you determine whether the mood is manic or not.

This isn't a scientific test - it's meant to give you information you can then take to a doctor, psychiatrist, counselor or other medical or mental health professional.

Use the results wisely! Mania, or a history of mania, requires immediate contact with a doctor. And even if your score doesn't indicate mania, the presence of several symptoms is a reason to seek professional help as soon as possible.

Mania Self-Test

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About Valium - Early Tranquilizer, Still Prescribed

Tuesday March 11, 2014
Back in the 1960s and 70s Valium was called "mother's little helper." It was "prescribed in vast quantities" by doctors to women (mothers and non-mothers) for anxiety, tension, you name it.

Today Valium is still prescribed, most often as the generic version diazepam. A friend of mine is taking it for severe muscle spasms. It can indeed be effective for treating anxiety. And unfortunately, it's often sold illegally. Because abuse or prolonged use can lead to addiction, Valium is a Class 4 controlled substance in the US, and patients can't get refills - they have to have a new prescription each month.

Anxiety and muscle spasms aren't the only uses for diazepam, and there are some important cautions and warnings. Here's an in-depth look at Valium/diazepam.

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New Antipsychotic Drug Latuda Better for Your Weight

Tuesday March 11, 2014
Latuda, a fairly new antipsychotic, has been shown to be effective in treating schizophrenia and has now been approved for use in bipolar depression. The three other atypical antipsychotics - Seroquel, Zyprexa and Symbyax - that are already approved for bipolar depression all have problems with side effects - particularly on weight gain and the related metabolic issues of increased blood glucose and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.

Latuda, by contrast, is considered weight neutral. Read More...

Opinion: Kerry Kennedy and Drugged Driving - Not Guilty

Saturday March 1, 2014
Kerry Kennedy
Kerry Kennedy
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
I rarely post Opinion blogs, but this case struck a nerve. I have some insight into the case of Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, who went on trial for drugged driving and yesterday was acquitted by the jury. Kennedy began driving erratically while driving on a highway, eventually hitting a tractor-trailer and continuing to drive. She said she mistook one bottle of pills for another that morning, taking zolpidem (brand name Ambien) instead of her thyroid medicine, and had no idea she was impaired at the time.

The prosecution argued that she must have known something was wrong and should have pulled over as soon as she did. Based on my experience, I know the prosecution was wrong. Read More...

Bipolar Disorder and School Performance Linked

Friday February 28, 2014
Girl playing pianoA study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in February 2010 found that students aged 15-16 who got excellent grades were four times as likely to develop bipolar disorder than those receiving average grades. In the group with excellent grades, boys were more likely than girls to develop the illness. According to a report on the study in the Telegraph, the link was strongest in children whose grades for language and music were high.

The Telegraph quoted the study's authors as giving several possible explanations for these results: "First, people in a state of hypomania, a mild period of mania or elevated mood, can often be witty and inventive, and able to link ideas in innovative ways.

Read More...

Generic Cymbalta - Is Duloxetine Safe?

Friday February 28, 2014
Medication Safety UpdateIn December of 2013 the US Food and Drug Administration approved a generic version of the antidepressant Cymbalta. As the manufacturer's patent expires and the cheaper generic becomes available, it's good news for many. Cymbalta is expensive! (I know, because I take it, and it's the costliest drug in my medication arsenal.)

But close on the heels of this approval comes word from Australia that there have been 21 confirmed cases where patients taking duloxetine - already in use there - in doses from 30 to 120mg/day developed the dangerous condition called serotonin syndrome. In ten additional cases Read More...

Weight Loss Drugs Qsymia and Belviq - Are They Safe in Bipolar Disorder?

Tuesday February 25, 2014
The news in 2012 that the FDA had approved not one but two new medications to help with weight loss was extremely exciting to overweight and obese people in the US. Belviq and Qsymia work quite differently, too, so that if one doesn't work for a patient, the other still might. Good news! But...

For people with depression and bipolar disorder, there are some factors that need careful judgment and consideration. Belviq works on one of the same neurotransmitter systems as many antidepressant drugs, while Qsymia contains both a stimulant and a medication, Topamax, that is already being used by some patients as a mood stabilizer. For this reason, drug interactions may be more likely between either of these drugs and meds taken for mood disorders.

There's nothing to say that people with bipolar can't take either of these new drugs to help with weight loss, but care is needed. Find out if Belviq and Qsymia are safe for you.

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