Posted by: Concerned daughter in law | 2019/02/08

Bipolar mood disorder

Dear Doc. My mother in law suffers from Bipolar mood disorder. I have come to learn that sometimes traumatic experiences often triggers my mother in law to go off the rails. When this happens it is a stressful experience for the whole family. Endless trips to the doctor's and hospitals. I love my mother in law to death but sometimes it is so hard to deal with it. We are constantly giving the run around by the hospital. She becomes violent to the point that we literally fear for our lives. She gets delusional constantly stacking and piling things on top of each other but she's fully aware of everything that's going on around her. The doctors keep saying that there is nothing wrong with her and that they cannot admit her in hospital. It's really hard especially the part where she become violent. I literally fear every time something traumatic happens and how she will react

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Our expert says:
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- 2019/02/12

Hello Concerned,
This does indeed sound like an alarming and disturbing situation.  Bipolar Disorder may be relatively mild or very severe and disabling. We vary in regard to what may trigger an episode, some seem clearly related to outside event, traumas and stresses, others not so.  Part of the problem is a consistent instability in the internal chemistry controlling mood, which is where drugs which help to stabilize this, can help.
Of the two varieties of mood swings that occur, Manic episodes ( up-swings ) sound rather like the problems you describe, though they are usually not so violent as what you mention. 
It seems hard to believe that she periodically behaves in this way, but that doctors would insist that there is nothing wrong with her. It seems perfectly obvious that there is something wrong : ordinary people don't do these things.  Maybe there's a dispute about the actual diagnosis ?  There might be other problems here, apart from or instead of, Bipolar Disorder, such as serious Personality Disorder.
You don't mention whether other diagnoses have been suggested, or what treatment she has received or is taking right now, or what sort of doctors she has seen.  Usually in such a situation, it's useful to get a second opinion, from a separate, independent specialist psychiatrist ( or a clinical psychologist if the Personality Disorder seems significant ) for a fresh view of the diagnosis and treatment options.  It sounds very inadequate for doctors to imply say there is nothing wrong, without discussing this with the family and advising on how you could handle such episode.

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