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02/20/2013 12:27 AM

The difference between BiPolar and PTSD

GeorgeBurns
GeorgeBurns  
Posts: 232
Member

Hi you guys. This is my first time posting on this board. I joined MDJ about a month ago and I'm most often on the PTSD and child abuse boards. I was dx bipolar decades ago - I'm a middle aged woman. Only around a year ago, I started remembering my violent and abusive childhood. I have been seriously depressed most of my life. Prozac just came out when I turned 40 and I finally found out what 'normal' not-depressed felt like. Except for those weeks a couple times a year when I didn't sleep more than one or two hours a night. Also being hypersexual in my twenties made me far less depressed. But mostly - depressed mixed with rage, raw emotions of grief, loss of hope and generally feeling devastated out of seemingly nowhere.

I want to ask those of you who understand bipolar if you know differences between bipolar and PTSD. I think night terrors/nightmares where you wake screaming is PTSD. I think flashbacks are too, but if you don't know it's a flashback and it just feels like you've lost your mind by a trigger then it might seem like bipolar?

I think I was dx bipolar bc at the time I did not remember my abusive childhood. I couldn't explain the raw mental pain - so they called it bipolar. Does anyone have a dx of both? Can you explain why both? Just wanting to learn from people rather than research this online or books. Thanks ahead for your help.

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02/20/2013 01:01 AM
Willtolive
Willtolive  
Posts: 18
Member

As a starting point, bipolar is a MOOD disorder, while ptsd is an ANXIETY disorder. So if you have fluctating mood - either very low or very high, and the associated symptoms at the time, like lack of motivation/energy with low mood, or increased energy and ideas with high mood, these are likely all bipolar symptoms. On the other hand, if you are hypervigilant, having flashbacks, unable to do things due to worry about bad things that might happen, this is more likely PTSD. They obviously can coexist, and one of the difficulties about times of less sleep, is that it can be mania in bipolar (more likely if there is lots of energy and lots you want to do) or anxiety in ptsd (more likely if you are distressed about not sleeping and anxious about things).

Having said all this, I only have bipolar, so perhaps its easier for me to see the differences.

Hope this helps!


02/20/2013 01:02 AM
Willtolive
Willtolive  
Posts: 18
Member

Oh, and "why both" is like trying to answer the meaning of life; I think you are unlucky as bipolar is likely a genetic trait, and ptsd is after a life event. I'm not aware that one leads to the other, or makes the other more likely.

02/20/2013 01:12 AM
GeorgeBurns
GeorgeBurns  
Posts: 232
Member

Thanks for the response, it's just what I was looking for. When I was dx with PTSD for the third time I didn't want to accept this either until I started to remember trauma. Anyway this Therapist said she thought I had both. I truly think my big mood changes can be explained by flashbacks and anxiety. The one thing that I do that seems more bipolar is that I'm an artist/painter. I get really creative and need the creative outlet for many days or ever weeks. Then stress comes on and I'm too depressed to consider art. My T said this was hypomania; creative energy in spades, less need for food and sleep, lots of need for sex and art and people; not really PTSD. But could it be that this is just who I am when I'm not freaked by PTSD? Or maybe I'm trying to hard to resist bipolar dx?

Anyway thank again for your feedback.


02/20/2013 01:16 AM
GeorgeBurns
GeorgeBurns  
Posts: 232
Member

Actually my T thought that perhaps I had a genetic predisposition to bipolar but it kicked in bc of the trauma as a child; but even she said she was speculating. When I asked why? I meant why as a comparison of symptoms, not the big metaphysical 'why,' that would be an different discussion.

02/20/2013 01:17 AM
chooch
chooch  
Posts: 4
New Member

Well there were various mood disorders and mental illnesses that were commonly misdiagnosed and bipolar was one of them. The way to accurately be diagnosed with a mental illness is to go through a battery of psych testing.

Bipolar means basically that you would be experiencing, not only manic stages but also depressed stages. Take for example that polar was a rail. Most people ride pretty close to the rail. Never falling to far under it or to far over it. When your bipolar that means you go far under and far over the rail. Under the rail leads into depression (sad, hopelessness, despair, lack of interest in anything, wanting to be alone, etc.) This bottom part of the rail can last days or even weeks. When you ride over the rail it also can be far over the rail. That is the manic stage which consists of not sleeping much, flighty, intense ideas that may over power rational thought, etc.. this manic stage can last days or even weeks. If this isn't what your experiencing then you MAY have been misdiagnosed.

There are 2 separate types of PTSD, developmental and situational. Developmental PTSD refers to a type of stressful event that occurs repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time, and within specific relationships and contexts. Childhood abuse (sexual, emotional, and physical) and neglect (physical and emotional) constitute typical forms of chronic traumatization. Situational PTSD could be trauma from an earthquake, car accident, rape, etc..

If you have been led to believe that PTSD always comes with nightmares they have miss informed you. Many people with PTSD have been known to have little or no nightmares. That was the old thought of determining symptoms of PTSD.

I hope this helps you and if you have any other questions I would be happy to try to answer them for you

Post edited by: chooch, at: 02/20/2013 01:26 AM


02/20/2013 01:33 AM
GeorgeBurns
GeorgeBurns  
Posts: 232
Member

I've been on a PTSD board on a different online site for about a year. I communicated with many who suffered traumas from combat vets to victims of Hurricane Katrina. But most of those I connected with were sexually abused as children like myself. I understand that we all share many symptoms of PTSD. But of course 100% of sufferers will not experience 100% of symptoms. Since I have remembered my childhood a year ago, I used to wake up at 3 am for many months right into a horrible flashback. Because I woke out of sleep, I have wondered if this started as a night terror. I never remember my dreams. I haven't for years. So I didn't remember night terrors, but waking from sleep...?

I apologize to the board for asking a PTSD question on a bipolar board but chooch sounds like someone who might know the answer. In terms of my first question about the differences of the two dx, I feel like I did get clarity I didn't have before.


02/20/2013 05:27 AM
sarahtroy
sarahtroy  
Posts: 14317
Group Leader
I'm an Advocate

Yes, Bipolar does co-exist with PTSD. In fact, I invite you to join our Bipolars dealing with PTSD support group. http://www.mdjunction.com/bipolar-dealing-with-ptsd

02/20/2013 10:34 AM
chooch
chooch  
Posts: 4
New Member

George it would be a good idea of you begin looking for a therapist that practices cognitive behavioral therapy,this modality will help you process your trauma. Also ask for psych testing to be done to accurately identify your diagnosis and give you some relief from your concerns. The fact that you are starting to process your trauma by searching for help on the boards is a great start. I'm glad I could help you

02/20/2013 12:49 PM
Bangbang
Bangbang  
Posts: 7164
Group Leader

I agree with chooch. I have both and I notice that the big difference with me is the anxiety. Cognitive therapy works with PTSD and I had alot of it. I take klonopin for the anxiety.Meds and therapy helped me with my PTSD. I have also noticed that if I talk about it with my frinds it helps too.
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