Today is World Bipolar Day
Bipolar can be a confusing disorder, especially for someone viewing it from the outside. As a TMS therapy technician working in a psychiatric office, we occasionally treat bipolar patients who are in the depressive stage of their disorder. I do not frequently witness their manic phases but hearing first-hand accounts from our patients suffering from bipolar disorder has helped me better understand the condition from their perspectives.
Today is World Bipolar Day (WBD), which is celebrated on Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday, the famous Dutch painter who suffered from bipolar disorder. The mission of WBD is to bring awareness to those who suffer from bipolar disorder, and to educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness. According to one of our TMS psychiatrists, Dr. Schumm, bipolar disorder can be described as,
“A condition where one’s mood intermittently experiences highs (mania) and lows (depression). The highs range from agitation to euphoria and from high creative energy to risky behaviors. The lows are the same symptoms found with those with major depressive disorder; sadness, lack of energy and interest, etc. Unfortunately, those with bipolar depression experience both mood highs and lows” (Please refer to Dr. Schumm’s blog post, “Non-Drug Therapy for those with Bipolar Disorder” for more information on bipolar depression).
I also believe that it is important to bring awareness to those who suffer from bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder can be a lifelong struggle and can have a huge impact on friends and loved ones, so the more we learn about the condition, the easier it will be to offer support. There are treatments that can help control the symptoms, such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, exercise, and nutrition. Some people also benefit from counseling and a support group. However, sometimes these combinations of treatments do not always work.
Here at BayTMS, we offer an alternative therapy for depression called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy. We have treated over 25 bipolar patients who suffered from bipolar depression. Of those 25 bipolar patients, 12 patients were diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, and 13 were diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. Of the 12 bipolar I patients treated, 76% benefited from TMS Therapy. Of the 13 bipolar II patients treated, 84% benefited from TMS Therapy. TMS therapy is currently only FDA-approved for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder, but in clinical trials and here at BayTMS it has been shown that TMS can help patients suffering from a depressive phase of their bipolar disorder.
Frequently asked questions about bipolar depression that our TMS doctors responded to:
1. If I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder, yet I have not had a manic episode in a while, am I diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar?
Yes. Once you have met criteria for a manic or hypomanic episode your diagnosis by default becomes bipolar disorder. If you haven't had a manic episode in a while, and remain depressed, your diagnosis is bipolar disorder, most recent episode depressed or more simply, bipolar depression.
2. What is meant by "unipolar depression" and "bipolar Depression?"
Unipolar depression is another name for major depression, without mania. Bipolar depression refers to someone who is depressed but has met criteria for a manic or hypomanic episode in the past.
3. Can TMS help with bipolar depression? if so, can TMS trigger mania symptoms? Certainly. Although not FDA approved for the condition, many studies have demonstrated TMS's efficacy in treating bipolar depression. Any antidepressant treatment, including medication, increases the risk of causing a manic episode. Although unlikely, it is possible and anyone with bipolar depression would be monitored closely during the course of TMS for the development of manic symptoms. Most patients with bipolar depression are already on a mood stabilizer which makes "mood switching," less likely.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder:
About Bay TMS
We believe in providing excellent, state-of-the-art, individualized mental health care with a focus on attention to detail and your well-being. We pride ourselves in our outstanding commitment to ensuring that you have a meaningful connection with your TMS doctor and technician throughout the duration of your treatment. After your initial evaluation with your TMS doctor, you will meet with him or her every week and we will send updates to your regular doctor and psychotherapist to keep them informed about your treatment progress. In addition, we encourage you to remain actively engaged with your technician throughout each treatment session. Scientific evidence suggests that these interactions may help to alleviate depression by simultaneously activating other important brain systems.
Call our offices for more information or to schedule an appointment: 510-809-1599