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Explosion in Bipolar Diagnoses


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The Bipolar Explosion

Psychiatry is at last asking the right questions about a remarkable shift in mental health diagnosis

 

Darian Leader

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 20 June 2012

 

'It was precisely when patents ran out on the big-selling tricyclic antidepressants in the mid-90s that bipolar suddenly became the recipient of Big Pharma marketing budgets.'

 

In the early 20th century the prevalence of manic depression was put at less than 1% of the population, but this figure exploded with the ramification of the bipolar categories. If bipolar 1 was often equated with classical manic depression, bipolar 2 lowered the threshold dramatically, requiring merely one depressive episode and one period of increased productivity, inflated self-esteem and reduced need for sleep.

 

Bipolar 2 and a half, 3, 3 and a half, 4, 5 and 6 soon followed. Today there is even "soft bipolar", which means a patient "responds strongly to losses". The World Health Organisation deems bipolar the sixth main cause of disability for people aged 15-44. In children, the diagnosis has increased by over 400%.

 

Historians of psychiatry have all made the same observation: it was precisely when patents ran out on the big-selling tricyclic antidepressants in the mid-90s that bipolar suddenly became the recipient of Big Pharma marketing budgets. Websites helped people to diagnose themselves; articles and supplements appeared all referring to bipolar as if it were a fact; and nearly all of these were funded by the industry.

 

Of course, the rabbit in the hat here was that the anticonvulsant sodium valproate received a patent for use on mania at exactly this time. Just as depression had been marketed as a disorder by those who purveyed a chemical cure for it, so bipolar was packaged and sold along with its remedy.

 

The irony is that in cases where antidepressant drugs clearly didn't work, it was now claimed that this was due to the fact that they had been wrongly prescribed: the patients were actually bipolar, yet the subtle mood changes had been missed by the prescribing doctor. As the psychiatrist David Healy points out, rather than trying to make better antidepressants, the industry opted to market a new brand.

 

A category – bipolar 3 – was even invented to designate those whose bipolarity had been revealed by antidepressants. The drugs intensified manic states, thus showing the true diagnosis and indicating that a new mood-stabilising medication be taken.

 

Many people have found valproate helpful, just as many feel that they owe their life to the right dose of lithium, but the problem here is that once again psychiatry is in danger of forgetting its history. Manic depression is not the same thing as bipolar, and the multiplication of bipolar diagnoses weakens and obscures the pertinence of the old category, turning regular variations in human moods into pathology.

 

When swings from mania to depressive states are serious and acute, medication is often helpful; but the early long-term studies tended to agree that manic depression can get better and that many people who experience an episode or a few are not doomed to spend their lives in its thrall. It has been argued, indeed, that recovery rates in the pre-drug era were better than today.

 

Yet doctors often feel safer encouraging patients who report mood swings to go on long-term and even lifelong medication. The same drugs that were once sold to temper the manic episode are now rebranded as prophylactics, necessary not to treat the episode but to stop it happening again. Is it an accident that compliance rates for those diagnosed with bipolar are the lowest for any so-called mental disorder?

 

A conference this weekend will examine this remarkable shift, and the legitimacy of the bipolar diagnosis. Like depression, this is a category that requires rethinking. Manic states can occur in any kind of mental structure, and a focus is needed on what early psychiatrists saw as central to manic depression: the flight of ideas, where one thought leads to another ferociously and incessantly; the need to communicate with others and share with them; the sudden ability to joke, pun and make repartee; and the ubiquitous spending sprees and business ventures of the manic subject.

 

Why in the depressive state does the world seem to offer so little, yet in the manic episode offer so much? Why the swing from "I've got nothing" to "I can buy anything"? Why the strange guilt and efforts towards reparation seen in the generosity and gift-giving of many manic episodes? And why the famous cycling of manic and depressive states?

 

However helpful a drug may be, these are questions no drug can answer. Link

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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Good article.

 

The diagnosis of drug-induced bipolar disorder is heinous -- it's adverse effects of antidepressants being mistaken for a psychiatric disorder.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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I dont know the statistics, but suspect that the rise in bipolar diagnoses in the 1990s coincides not only with the loss of patent of TCAs, but the subsequent exploding use of SSRIs that CAUSE mania, akathisia, aggression. I am not sure if the TCAs induce mania as frequently as SSRIs.

Prozac was approved in 1987, followed by Zoloft.

Depakote (divalproex sodium) got the nod for "mania associated with bipolar disorder" in May 1995.

 

*please note that I am NOT saying "unmasking of bipolar" as is frequently suggested.

 

Hagop Akiskal, MD, of UCSD is the creator of "The Bipolar Spectrum" (6 at last count as stated in article). A consultant to Abbott, maker of Depakote.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Good article.

 

The diagnosis of drug-induced bipolar disorder is heinous -- it's adverse effects of antidepressants being mistaken for a psychiatric disorder.

 

Criminal.. Horrific.

 

 

I dont know the statistics, but suspect that the rise in bipolar diagnoses in the 1990s coincides not only with the loss of patent of TCAs, but the subsequent exploding use of SSRIs that CAUSE mania, akathisia, aggression. I am not sure if the TCAs induce mania as frequently as SSRIs.

TCAs were even worse.

 

Hagop Akiskal, MD, of UCSD is the creator of "The Bipolar Spectrum" (6 at last count as stated in article). A consultant to Abbott, maker of Depakote.

 

Psychopathy meets psychiatry.

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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"Psychopathy meets psychiatry" LOL!!

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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