Posts tagged ‘mood disorder’

Bipolar and Anxiety Disorders

A study conducted in Ontario, Canada indicated that the co-occurence (technical term “comorbidity,” which sounds worse than it really is) of multiple anxiety disorders with bipolar disorder may be more common than expected. Of the 138 individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, over half had at least one anxiety disorder, and almost a third had two or more.

Using the DSM-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), researchers assessed participants for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (see bottom of post for more info). The participants were re-evaluated over the course of three years to determine their clinical progress.

You might expect that having multiple anxiety disorders would result in worse outcomes, but the study showed that the type of disorder was more important. Generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia had the most negative impact (given the importance of social support in bipolar, the latter doesn’t surprise me). However, when participants with at least one anxiety disorder were compared to those without, any type of anxiety disorder resulted in a poorer outcome.  For example, anxious participants spent more of each year ill and their symptoms were more severe.

Those of us who are bipolar need to be proactive to ensure that we are assessed and treated for other disorders we may have. Although it is intensely annoying to have a string of diagnoses (and a bag of pills to go with it), failure to adequately treat one problem may hold back progress in another area.

Similarly, many physical disorders occur with or even cause psychological problems. If financially possible, get regular physicals and blood work to check for problems such as anemia, hypo/hyperthyroidism, diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and others that will complicate a mood disorder.

Anxiety Disorders in a Nutshell

Panic disorder — Attacks of terror, accompanied by frightening physical symptoms (pounding heart, shortness of breath, faintness, dizziness, nausea) and an overwhelming sense of impending doom, occur with no apparent provocation.  The most crippling aspect of panic disorder is the fear of another attack, especially while driving, in public, or in another difficult situation.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder — If you watch the TV show Monk, you are familiar with this one. Persons with OCD have disturbing thoughts that will not go away unless they perform some sort of ritual. However, doing the rituals is like doing crack; over time more and more is required until the person spends most of the day doing rituals.

Post-traumatic stress disorder — First identified in war veterans, this disorder was soon recognized in the context of many other terrifying experiences that involved death or the threat of death. Natural disasters, terror attacks, rape, child abuse, car accidents and many other events can cause the symptoms. These include flashbacks (reliving the event), nightmares, watchfulness, inability to trust, and startling easily.

Social phobia — If you become overwhelmingly anxious and self-conscious in social situations, you may have social phobia. Persons with this disorder may be bothered by certain types of social situations or by any contact with people.  When they are in the frightening situation, they may experience rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness similar to a panic attack. They feel that everyone around is looking at them and judging them negatively. When forced to attend a social event that they usually avoid, they may dread it for weeks and begin feeling panic long before reaching the actual situation.

Generalized anxiety disorder — GAD rarely occurs alone; instead it is usually comorbid with another anxiety disorder, a mood disorder, or substance abuse. It is diagnosed when an individual spends most of the day worrying about everyday concerns. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Sleep disturbances and physical problems are also common symptoms.

September 16, 2008 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

Music Therapy II

In a previous post (July 21), I wrote about my interest in self-prescribed music therapy, specifically entrainment CD’s. Entrainment is just a fancy way to say that the CD presents a sequence of music designed to train the emotions. The ones I have been making bring me gradually from depression to happiness. I think my latest one, #3, is the best so far.

1. Crush — Dave Matthews Band

A romantic song that is associated with a depressed time of my life.

2. Losing My Religion — R.E.M.

This song isn’t about religion, as you might think, but about frustration and depression. According to lead singer Michael Stipe, “losing my religion” is Southern slang for “fed up” or “at the end of my rope.”

3. Ordinary World — Duran Duran

Popular during a drastic change in my life, in which I was desparately seeking that “ordinary world.”

4. My Immortal — Evanescence

Almost any song by emo band Evanescence would do, but this is one of the most depressing songs I’ve ever heard. It is, therefore, the peak of the “depressed” portion of the CD.

5. One Headlight — Wallflowers

Although “One Headlight” talks about a suicide, it is one step up from #4. Believe me.

6. I Let the Music Speak — ABBA

Rich in a variety of emotions, the words and music in this somewhat dark song are a nice transition.

7. Eyes Without a Face — Billy Idol  &  8. Baker Street — Gerry Rafferty

Both are melancholy, but the sadness is not depression because there is still hope.

9. Turn! Turn! Turn! — the Byrds

Self-explanatory I think! If you are not familiar with the song, here are some of the words (adapted from the Bible book of Ecclesiastes):

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

10. I Made It Through the Rain — Barry Manilow

We’re now in positive territory, but this is not just a happy-go-lucky fun song. It’s a tribute to victory over grief, depression, pain, and struggles of all types.

11. Waterloo — ABBA, 12. When Smokey Sings — ABC, 13. Walk of Life — Dire Straits, 14. You Get What You Give — New Radicals.

These are the fun songs! Listening to them always makes me smile, but they work much better when preceded by the rest of the CD. The first few songs acknowledge my feelings and maybe even help me express them (sometimes I cry). Gradually I’m led into hope and empowerment, and the final four are the icing on the cake!

I highly recommend this technique to anyone who has a mood disorder.

September 15, 2008 at 4:19 pm 3 comments


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