WBEZ | bipolar disorder http://www.wbez.org/tags/bipolar-disorder Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Breaking the silence about being bipolar http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/breaking-silence-about-being-bipolar-110988 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 141024 Andrea Tim_bh (1)_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Andrea Lee was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 20 years ago, she wanted to talk about it all the time.</p><p>&ldquo;Everywhere I went, I would introduce myself and I would try to work in - maybe in the second or third sentence of that conversation &ndash; &lsquo;By the way, I have Bipolar Disorder.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Eventually, though, she realized that people treated her differently.</p><p>&ldquo;So I stopped talking about it,&rdquo; Lee says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps.</p><p>Now Lee wants to talk about it again.</p><p>She came to the StoryCorps booth in the Chicago Cultural Center earlier this month with her husband, Tim Fister.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember in high school sitting at the lunch table with my friends,&rdquo; Lee says, &ldquo;and there was all this commotion around me and I couldn&rsquo;t hear any of it&hellip;And I remember just putting my head down and feeling so&hellip;empty.&rdquo;</p><p>Later that day, she drove to her family&rsquo;s home and parked in the garage. &ldquo;I was crying and crying. I left the car on and I remember thinking: I could just close the door and I wouldn&rsquo;t have to feel this pain anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>She sat in the car, contemplating suicide. She imagined how her mother would feel when she got home and saw her body slumped in the driver&rsquo;s seat of the car.</p><p>Lee&rsquo;s parents are from Korea and Lee says, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s such a culture of shame in Korea that people would rather suffer in silence then let the world know that they&rsquo;re in pain and that they need help.&rdquo;</p><p>Lee turned the car off and went inside the house.</p><p>Soon after she saw a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depressants to her. Within a few weeks, the drugs helped lift her spirits. The sky was bluer and the sun was brighter. But what she didn&rsquo;t realize was that she was quickly spiraling into mania.</p><p>A short time later, Lee experienced her first manic episode, and the police brought her to a mental health facility.</p><p>&ldquo;So through all of this stuff that was going on, I&rsquo;m just curious: Did you have anyone to talk to frankly?&rdquo; her husband, Tim Fister, asks. &ldquo;&rsquo;Cause it sounds like your parents were out of the picture.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I don&rsquo;t think that in that state of mind I was really able to connect with anyone,&rdquo; Lee says. &ldquo;What was it like for you when you met me and I started telling you about my own mental illness?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t really that big of a deal. It was maybe a little bit of a relief &lsquo;cause on both sides of my family there&rsquo;s a fair amount of various levels of mental illness. So it didn&rsquo;t bother me&hellip;that much. You know it&rsquo;s something you think about in terms of the logistics. I still think about that even today, especially now that Juniper&rsquo;s born. What are we going to do if such a thing were to happen? But you know when it&rsquo;s coming. You know the signs. And you know what to do.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So we&rsquo;ve been married for nine&mdash;no, we&rsquo;ve been married for four years, but we&rsquo;ve been together for nine years, but you&rsquo;ve never seen me in a manic state. How do you feel about that?&rdquo; Lee asks.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very possible you might never have another manic episode again,&rdquo; Fister says. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re lucky that you found the right combination of meds&hellip; And you have a good support system. You have a good doctor now.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You know for a long time I didn&rsquo;t want to have a child because I didn&rsquo;t want that child to go through that,&rdquo; Lee says, &ldquo; but then also selfishly if that child committed suicide I didn&rsquo;t know how I would live. I didn&rsquo;t know how I could live with that knowledge: That I knew what that experience was but still decided to get pregnant and to bring a life into the world where that could happen.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So what turned it around?&rdquo; Fister asks.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that I&rsquo;ve experienced things in our relationship together that made me feel like that chance was worth it,&rdquo; Lee says.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/breaking-silence-about-being-bipolar-110988 Out of the Shadows: The rise of bipolar disorder in children http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-18/out-shadows-rise-bipolar-disorder-children-93223 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-18/shadow window_flickr_grover web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Between 1995 and 2005, the number of adults in the nation diagnosed with bipolar doubled. In the same time-frame, the number of kids diagnosed as bipolar increased forty fold. Unchecked, the illness can deeply affect a child's ability to learn and care for themselves. It can also increase their risk of suicide.</p><p>Natalie Flanagan is a triplet, born eight weeks early. While her brothers are developing on a typical schedule, Natalie has developmental delays. She also struggles with mood disorders.</p><p>“Right from the time Natalie was born, she was anxious,” says her mother, Lisa Flanagan. “It looked just like she wanted to crawl out of her skin and that looked like anxiety to us but we felt like her world was shrinking.”</p><p>Then in the 5<sup>th</sup> grade, Natalie’s symptoms escalated<em>.</em> She was admitted to an inpatient psych ward.</p><p>Her mother says she was petrified. “I was thinking <em>One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,</em>” Flanagan explains. “They did get her mania to subside, but the experience was pretty terrible. She was restrained with medicine and physically.”</p><p>But it was during this period Natalie’s family learned she had bipolar disorder. “And I really wanted to understand what it was,” her mother says.</p><p>Now 13 years old, Natalie checks in with her doctor on a sunny Thursday morning. Her doctor is Mani Pavuluri, a professor of pediatric brain research at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a leading expert on bipolar children.</p><p>“There are classic symptoms like hyper-sexuality and not sleeping at night,” Pavuluri says of children like Natalie. “Happy one minute, then crying, then you start to think there is something wrong with this child’s mental state and you look for classic symptoms."</p><p>"When you say the child’s symptoms are very similar to adult mania, there are some things that are different in children," Pavuluri explains. "In children, they are very rapid in cycling, moving from depression to mania rather fast with multiple cycles within an even a bigger cycle, which we call complex cycling.”</p><p>But Dr. Jason Washburn of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine says the definitions being used to identify the disorder are problematic, leading to the jump in diagnosis.</p><p>“We don’t have definitive answers,” Washburn says. “This is probably highly unlikely that this is due to a change in our children. So we’re not necessarily seeing bipolar disorder increase in any sort of actual way. What we’re seeing is an increase in diagnostic practices. What we’ve seen is a movement toward expanding what is included in a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Children who were previously diagnosed with another disorder are being put into the bipolar disorder bucket.”</p><p>There’s been no official change in the criteria for pediatric bipolar disorder. But the definition has been expanded to include aggression, chronic irritability, and rageful behavior. These factors are now criteria for pediatric bipolar.</p><p>Most adolescents sometimes display those behaviors, but often bipolar kids take a combination of several very expensive medications to reign in their symptoms.</p><p>“So right now, she’s on 1200 mg of lithium, 600 mg in the morning, and 600 mg at night," says Lisa Flanagan of daughter Natalie. "She’s on 4 mg of Intuniv, 2 mg in the morning, and 2 at night,” as well as a host of other drugs.</p><p>Some doctors, like Dr. Washburn, warn about the long term effects of such medications.</p><p><strong>“</strong>There are several medications being used for this -- mood stabilizers as well as second-generation atypicals and anticonvulsant medications,” Washburn says. “Unfortunately, we don’t know what the long term effects are. We don’t have 10- year longitudinal studies of children put on these medications. We don’t have the data. But we do know if we don’t do anything, they’re going to get worse. It’s hard to say we’re overmedicating and it’s hard to say we’re not overmedicating because these are youth with significant problems. They’re failing out of school, costing society more dollars later on, with major problems at home children and causing major strife.”</p><p>This comes at a time when insurance companies are covering less of the cost for long term hospital stays or other types of extensive and expensive therapy. Dr. Mark Stein is a clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He studies ADHD, a disorder that often exists alongside bipolar disorder. Stein says availability of medications for mental health issues sometimes influences a doctor’s diagnosis.</p><p>“We really want to help people and if you’re aware there’s a specific treatment, that’s going to increase one’s awareness in looking for those symptoms,” Stein says. “If all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.”</p><p>But catching bipolar at a young age might help the kids cope as they grow up with the disorder, because other factors complicate living long-term with the diagnosis.</p><p>Dr. Elliot Gershon is a professor of psychiatry and human genome genetics at the University of Chicago. His work looks at the genetic component of bipolar disorder.</p><p>“The outlook for early onset bipolar is before puberty, relatively poor, compared to later onset bipolar,” Gershon says. “And it’s made worse by the person becoming engaged in substance abuse, which is fairly frequent among bipolars. One of the reasons that mood disorders in children are so devastating for the rest of their lives is that their education tends to not go as well as it might otherwise, as you might appreciate.”</p><p>Still, Lisa Flanagan remains hopeful for her daughter.</p><p>“Her academics since we’ve been with [Dr. Pavuluri] have increased so much that I’m a lot more hopeful she can be at a place with additional learning, in a vocation or college,” Flanagan says. “I feel like her future is going to be okay.”</p><p><strong>Join the conversation: Ask experts about mental illness in our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/live-chat-ask-experts-about-childhood-mental-illness-93156">live chat</a>.</strong></p></p> Tue, 18 Oct 2011 13:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-18/out-shadows-rise-bipolar-disorder-children-93223