Monday, August 16, 2010

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder May Go Undiagnosed

Hi Everyone, How are ya, I am doing great. I just received this update from NAMI today and feel it is a very important update concerning Manic Depression. There are many people who go undiagnosed until later in life. In the meantime they may be suffering while feeling something is not right, but not be able to put a finger on what's wrong. It can be a fine line determining a diagnosis. Even if you see a couple of symptoms in yourself or someone you love, don't worry, it is not a definite diagnosis, just be aware if more symptoms develop over time. If there was one thing I learned really young and really fast growing up with my mother is awareness, and that is one of my goals with this blog, along with ending the Stigma that still surrounds Mental Illness. And if I help out one life out there I will have done my mother's legacy proud. Her legacy to me is that she fought every day to be better in all aspects of her life, and that is within me more than ever now :)
Thanks for visiting my blog,
Love you,
Janet :)


Science Update • August 16, 2010
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder May Go Undiagnosed
in Some Adults with Major Depression

Nearly 40 percent of people with major depression may also have subthreshold hypomania, a form of mania that does not fully meet current diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder, according to a new NIMH-funded study. The study was published online ahead of print August 15, 2010, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Mania is a symptom of bipolar disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), it is generally defined as a discrete period of increased energy, activity, euphoria or irritability that leads to marked impairment in one’s daily life. The DSM-IV states that a manic episode lasts for one week or more, and may sometimes require hospitalization. Hypomania is defined as a milder form of mania that lasts for four days at a time, but does not interfere with one’s daily activities. The majority of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience repeated episodes of hypomania rather than mania.

For this new study, Kathleen Merikangas, PhD., of NIMH, and colleagues aimed to characterize the full spectrum of mania by identifying hypomanic episodes that last less than four days among those diagnosed with major depression. They described this type of hypomania as subthreshold hypomania. Merikangas and colleagues used data from 5,692 respondents of the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), a nationally representative survey of American adults ages 18 and older.
Results of the Study

The researchers found that nearly 40 percent of those identified as having major depression also had symptoms of subthreshold hypomania. Compared to those with major depression alone, those with depression plus subthreshold hypomania tended to be younger at age of onset and to have had more coexisting health problems, more episodes of depression and more suicide attempts. They also found that among those with subthreshold hypomania, a family history of mania was just as common as it was among people with bipolar disorder.

According to the researchers, the findings indicate that many adults with major depression may in fact have mild but clinically significant symptoms of bipolar disorder. In addition, because many with subthreshold hypomania had a family history of mania, the researchers suggest that subthreshold hypomania may be predictive of future hypomania or mania. Previous research has indicated that young people with subthreshold hypomania symptoms are more likely to develop bipolar disorder over time, compared to those without subthreshold hypomania, said the authors.

What’s Next
The researchers suggest that depression and mania may be defined as dimensions, rather than as discrete diagnostic categories. Clinicians should be aware that patients who report repeated episodes of subthreshold hypomania may have a risk of developing mania, the researcher concluded.

Angst J, Cui L, Swendsen J, Rothen S, Cravchik A, Kessler R, Merikangas K. Major depressive disorder with sub-threshold bipolarity in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. American Journal of Psychiatry. Online ahead of print August 15, 2010.


  1. This is what appears to have happened with my DH--he wasn't diagnosed with bipolar until he was in his 30's. Sometimes I wonder if the bipolar just "popped up", or if it was there all the time....very thought-provoking post!

  2. Thank you Carol for your comment. I hear this more than I care too. That is why I felt the need to post this right away. It is so sad to know people are suffering needlessly when their Doctor's can't figure out what is going on with them. I am glad to know your loved one finally got the help they needed.
    Thanks again,
    Janet :)

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  4. I am new to your blog and LOVE it. I wasn't diagnosed bipolar type 1 until 21 or 22 years old. A great deal of my life could have been bettered if I had been properly diagnosed at an earlier age.

    Your post today is a great one and appreciate your mission to educate others of mental illness.

  5. Hi Janet. I haven't left a comment in quite awhile. Sorry. I do however read your post every day.I wasn't diagnosed with Bi Polar disorder until my late fifties. I suffered for many years. Those around me also. Every thing else was always blamed. I am now living a relatively calm and peaceful life with my medications.

  6. Hi In the Pink, Thank you sooo much for you compliment on my blog, you inspire me to keep on keeping on the good fight. I am glad to hear you finally got the right diagnosis. My mother suffered needlessly too and I cannot forget that, I'm sorry to hear you lost out on some precious years too.
    Hope to keep in touch,
    Take Care,
    Janet :)

  7. Thank you for your comment Judith :)

  8. Hi Russ, I am so sorry to hear you suffered needlessly too like way to many people do. I appreciate your visits everyday too, I am trying to get better at getting around my favorite blogs too, which includes yours of course. I wish that sweethearts like you and my mother were diagnosed earlier in life, what a difference it could have meant for both of you and everyone around you. I am glad to know though that you have a sense of calm in your life today.
    Thanks for the comment,
    Love ya,
    Janet :)

  9. Thank you for sharing this very interesting article. I have had bipolar for five years now and it is a struggle to deal with. I have found a way to deal with my highs and lows with I hope this is helpful for those with bipolar.