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Old 09-25-2008, 10:41 AM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Buckroe Beach, VA, USA
Posts: 6
brit5467 HB User
Re: Anyone Misdiagnosed BP & Instead Had Major Depressive Disorder For Years?

If I'm reading your question right, you were diagnosed BP but now feel you have Major Depression? If you read definitions of the types of BP (Types I, II, and Mixed) you’ll see they all include depression. That’s why it’s also referred to as ‘Manic Depression.’


My experience might be the opposite of what you're asking about, but I'm sharing to show how misdiagnosis can happen.

As a teen, I was told I just had depression. Was on many different anti-depressants (AD’s) throughout the years. Wasn't properly diagnosed with BP until my late 40's (I'm now 51). Those years in-between were HELLISH, to say the least.

People make the mistake of thinking that the 'manic' or mania aspect of BP should be obvious and outrageous. But for me it was not, because I only experienced hypomania (not as extreme as full-blown mania). I just felt REALLY, REALLY energized and hyperactive at times. High on life. And very productive.

Sometimes this was a positive thing. I could stay up all night cleaning house, organizing kitchen cabinets, or spend all day cleaning car inside and out. I'd become very talkative and outgoing. I might go shopping and buy lots of stuff. But knowing I could not afford it, I’d return it all the next day (people with full mania, for example, would not care and go into debt).

But sometimes I would feel too hyper so I resorted to alcohol (while still taking the AD - BAD move) to 'calm me down.' I was self-medicating. Although ‘calming’ the hyper-ness, it actually had the opposite effect than on ‘normal’ people and I'd stay up late drinking more, sometimes all night.

The alcohol would then negate the AD and for days after a drinking episode, I would be extremely depressed. Even suicidal a couple of times. I also go into lots of trouble (to include DUI's) due to my drinking which only further depressed me. Then the AD would kick back in and I'd go awhile feeling 'normal.' But then the hypomania would come back and once again, I'd try to self-medicate with alcohol.

This became a vicious cycle with feeling normal, then 'manic', then drinking to feel calm the mania, then depression from the ‘crash’ and alcohol. And then it started all over again. For the doctors, this became an issue of “which came first -- the chicken or the egg???” Was the alcohol causing my depression or was my depression causing me to drink?

So unfortunately, my alcoholism became the focus of my illness and I was then re-diagnosed with THAT being my main problem. They blamed my depression on THAT. I was even taken off my AD.

Doctors didn’t think to look past the alcoholism or to question that it might be a symptom and not an illness in itself. So being BP wasn't even a consideration. As well, I'd never recognized my hypomania behavior as a problem so I never brought it up, hence, they were never aware of it.

Fortunately, since then the Mental Health community HAS come to realize that many alcoholics are actually people with mental illness who are simply attempting to find a way to medicate themselves.

Eventually in 1996, I got sober and thought all my mental problems would go away. But soon after, I got hit very hard with a BAD depressive episode, so much so that I could not go to work and was considering checking into a hospital. But as quickly as it came on, it went away just as fast and I got on with life. The next couple years are kind of hazy as far as my behavior.

But I DO remember the last hypomanic episode. After getting fired (problems with jobs goes hand in hand with BP) I found myself going for two job separate interviews for which I was under-qualified. Yet in my ‘manic’ state, feeling grandiose, I presented myself as being so competent that I landed BOTH jobs at an annual salary far above my qualifications. I was ecstatic. Yet when I started the new job, another depression episode kicked in and I just didn’t go back. Nor did I call them to resign. Very irresponsible (another symptom of mania).

A few days later I was on top of the world again. I started installing an entire brick patio by myself. I did all the manual labor. It was HARD work. Then I landscaped, planting trees, plants, and mulching. And I did all this in 100º weather and lost 20 lbs. -- all the while my neighbor was telling me I was crazy and going to kill myself in that heat. She saw that something was ‘wrong’ with me, but I didn’t.

I then proceed to take on painting my bathroom and living room, only to sink into a deep depression (I crashed) just as I needed to finish up the last little bit painting in my hallway. I could not understand how 4 square feet of ceiling could seem so overwhelming and literally paralyze me. I blamed my ‘depression’ on paint fumes.

I’ve gone into such detail only to show how hypomania affected me and that it didn’t even seem unusual to me. I just thought I was being very productive. I loved the energy. Therefore I never reported this sort of behavior to my shrink. I have not described my depression because obviously you know what THAT is like.

But fortunately for me it was THIS particular depressive episode, along with a new ‘shrink’ taking over my case, that finally got me properly diagnosed.

When I got there, I initially complained about the depression, saying I could not understand it – after having accomplished so much (with the patio and painting). Thank GOD she recognized BP and asked me just a few simple questions such as “was I needing less sleep” and “had I had unusual energy?” She’d recognized the cycle of having mania and then crashing into depression and immediate made the proper diagnosis and put me on Depakote.

I got immediate positive results from Depakote (Valproic Acid) with the exception of weigh gain, so a couple years ago, I was switched to Equetro. Also, after another period of feeling depressed after years of being fine, I was also put on Lamictal. As well, I had been taking Wellbutrin XL prior to any medication for the BP, so I continued taking that. (As a side note, I also take Klonapin for anxiety.)

This has been my ‘cocktail’ of medications for about 6-8 years now and I have done well on them. I don’t suffer from depression anymore. I do still at times, feel I have slight periods of the hypomania where I am very productive. But it is not out of control and for all I know, ‘normal’ people experience the same thing, where they have ‘lazy’ days and want to relax and other days where they feel extremely productive.

Hope this has been of some help to you and sorry it’s so long.

Best Wishes,

Last edited by Administrator; 10-07-2008 at 06:46 PM. Reason: removed website: not allowed.