Posted by: Lulu | 2007/02/18

What constitutes as a 'normal' mood?

I was wondering if you could help me with my problem. My mother and best friend both suffer from type 2 bi-polar. I spend most of my time with either of these two people, and I care very deeply for them. My one concern however, is whether I also have bi-polar. My moods don't swing wildly, but I have no idea what consititues as a a normal mood, as I am around abnormal mood swings all the time. Both are on the correct medication however, so it is under control but I am still worried that I might have it.
It is a terrfying thought that I might have inherited it, but how does it develop and what counts as a bi-polar type depression or mania, compared to a normal bout of the blues or happiness?
These are very pressing questions and I have consulted my doctor, but all she could say to me was that if I was going to develop it, I will. But she mentioned a few precautions to take as well, to stay away from anti-inflammatories and (of course) recreational drugs. She also mentioned that 5-HTP has been proven to help with serotonin levels in the brain, but how effective is complementary medication?
Please can you shed some light on these questions for me? That would be greatly appreciated......

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Our expert says:
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A normal mood is like the normal weather in a mild climate --- it can get hot and cold, sometimes within the same day, but neither spectacularly hot nor perishingly cold. In someone with bipolar disorder, it's more like they commute between the Sahara and the South Pole. The mood movements last longer at either extreme, and are themselves more extreme and disabling. Normally, we can get happy, either because of circumstances or just because its a reasonably cheerful day --- but not unrealistically happy, and our happiness doesn't last for weeks and get higher and higher.
As for the advice, everyone is better off for avoiding recreational drugs which at the vert least never do anyone any good. I am not impressed at evidence for 5-HTP as a remedy --- if something isn't regulated and registered as a medicine, there's usually something dubious about it.

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