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Question
Posted by: Kit | 2008/08/13

Bi-Polar relapse

My husband was diagnosed with bi-polar 28 years ago and has been on medication for most of thise years. A few years ago he stopped taking meds and what lead him to a pshchiatrist was actually a burn out. This doc said that judging by the symptoms (well there wern' t any) he didn' t think my husband was bi-polar but decided it was best to continue with lithium. We have been married for 7 years and I have never seen any symptoms even when he was off his meds. he has always been an active person (he runs comrades every year), loves gardeing and making things. he sleeps well and works hard. So I have never worred that he is bi-polar however just recently (about 2 months) he has been buying a lot of things, ok granted many of them are good purchases and he seems to be more busy than ever. he says he keeps busy because if he sits in front of the tv at night he just falls asleep which is true and he feels bad about it so would rather keep busy and them come to bed like a normal person. Should I be concerned that he is going into a manic stage? i sort of tried to talk to him about his shopping but he got snappy with me. He hates it if anyone refers to bi-polar symptoms as he believes he is not bi-polar. should I talk to the psychiatrist? If I suggest we see the psych he won' t agree to it but I could say we need to see him for me because I suffer terribly from depression. what do you think?

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Our expert says:
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Nowadays it is proper practice to make diagnoses according to widely agreed criteria. If your husband has a pattern of symptoms indicating a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, that would be diagnosed, but NOt if he did not have the appropriate symptoms. And one would not use any drug, including lithium without a firm a properly made diagnosis. Lithium can be a pretty reliable drug, though I'd be concerned about giving it to someone who runs comrades, because if he got dehydrated in the race,m it might cause more problems than usual.
Nothing you describe sounds particular like someone with a bipolar disorder, or indeed any abnormality. Yes, being TOO busy and buying too many things might reflect a manic episode --- at his age, one would think that there would have been previous manic wepisodes you would remember and could measure his current behaviours against that. Why not see the psychiarist together, and discuss both your depression, and your concerns about whether your husband's diagnosis and treatment are appropriate and useful

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