Have a question for a mental healthcare provider? We will be accepting questions for our clinical panel and will publish a select question and answer in each of the DBSA monthly eNewsletter.

Question Topic:
How do infections like Lyme disease affect Depression?
Physical Health
The relationship between depression and infections runs in both directions. Infectious illnesses—especially chronic illnesses like Lyme disease—certainly can help cause or worsen depression. Infections can affect depression either biologically (by … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Can a person with bipolar disorder ever be truly happy? Are my periods of happiness just mania?
Bipolar Disorder
My short answer is: Yes, a person who lives with bipolar disorder can certainly be truly happy. But I think I can understand the concerns behind the question. If you … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have schizoaffective disorder, and I was recently diagnosed with seizures. I was also given a diagnosis of Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures. I know the brain is a complex thing. How are those things related?
Mental Health
Other
In general, we use the word “seizures” to describe what people experience—sudden spells when someone loses awareness or becomes disoriented. We use the term “epilepsy” to describe an electrical pattern in the brain—usually diagnosed by an electroencephalogram or EEG. Not all seizures are due to epilepsy, and not all electrical epilepsy in the brain results in a seizure. People with mood disorders are more likely to experience seizures of both kinds—seizures that are due to epilepsy and seizures that are not. And it seems that the relationship flows in both directions: having a mood disorder increases the risk of seizures, and having seizures increases the risk of a mood disorder. We understand only a little about the specifics of those relationships. For example, epilepsy in the temporal lobe of the brain may be more strongly linked to mood disorder or mood changes. You’re certainly right that the brain is a complex thing! Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I’ve had issues with anxiety and substance use over the years. While I quit using substances in 2005, I now feel (at 57 years old) I am experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Is it common for symptoms of bipolar to come on later in life or did they just go unnoticed in my formative years?
Bipolar Disorder
Anxiety
In general, symptoms of bipolar disorder first appear during a person’s teens or twenties—or sometimes even earlier. Many people don’t receive treatment until much later, often because symptoms were not recognized. But the first signs usually appear early in life. Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD. I have been taking diazepam for as long as I can remember. My psychiatrist states that she wants to take me off of it. She says it doesn't really help PTSD. I have never had a problem with it and it's the only drug I've found to ever help with my anxiety. Why take away something that is working when nothing else ever has?
Bipolar Disorder
Other
Long-term use of benzodiazepines (like diazepam, clonazepam, or lorazepam) has always been controversial. And we now know more about the risks, especially for older people. Because benzodiazepines can affect reaction … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My son recently went through a depressive episode. Treatment and a new prescription are helping, but he finds he still has trouble staying asleep. He will often have dreams that will wake him up, and he will not be able to get back to sleep. What are some things to try to help him better regulate his sleep cycle?
Depression
Treatment
People who live with mood disorders often experience sleeping problems, which can be an early sign of a mood episode and the last problem to get better when other symptoms … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I've been on an antidepressant drug for 30 years. Is it even effective after all this time? I feel so-so, but always tired and unmotivated.
Depression
Medication
When you have been taking an antidepressant medication for many years, it can be hard to tell how much it is helping.  For some people, one antidepressant continues to be … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Is it safe to stay on mood stabilizers when you are pregnant?
Medication
We think about medications taken during pregnancy in three general categories: Medications known to cause birth defects or other serious problems Medications not known to cause birth defects but which … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Can antidepressant mono therapy in cyclothymic disorder cause full blown mania? Is that a sure sign of type 1 bipolar disorder?
Mental Health
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
Let’s start with a little diagnostic jargon. Officially, we use the term cyclothymic disorder to describe a mood pattern including both mild depression and hypomania—with neither severe enough to make … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Can you explain the difference between situational depression and clinical depression?
Depression
Those terms can have different meaning to different people. To some people “situational depression” means depression that comes on after a stressful or traumatic event―for example, ending a relationship or … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My best friend has depression and was put on suicide watch. I'm trying my absolute best to be there for him and help him through this issue. It just seems that I don't feel like I'm helping. Any thoughts for me?
Depression
This is a challenging situation for anyone—friends, families, and mental health professionals. But there are some things that are generally helpful. First, don’t be afraid to talk about suicidal thoughts … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Can going on or off hormones cause mood swings or a manic episode?
Mental Health
Bipolar Disorder
Medication
Any reaction to starting or stopping medications (like hormones) is possible. But some are more likely than others. Corticosteroid hormones (like prednisone) are sometimes prescribed to treat asthma, arthritis, or … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
With bipolar disorder, does depression become more prevalent as one grows older?
Depression
We don’t expect that depression will be more frequent or more severe with age. In fact, we generally expect the opposite pattern. The best evidence about this question comes from large … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I am a physician who recently had to resign from Residency due to a breakdown which resulted in a Bipolar II diagnosis. I'm on the right meds and taking care of myself and haven't felt this healthy in over a decade. There is so much stigma, especially in the medical community, about mental illness. My question is: Can a bipolar doc be effective and safe to treat patients?
Mental Health
Bipolar Disorder
Medication
The answer is: Yes, absolutely!  But we should think more about how to address that stigma and how to keep things on a good path. First, I can’t help wanting … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have bipolar II disorder and I see both a psychiatrist and therapist. My therapist says she believes I also have PTSD. Are there certain medications for PTSD that are different than bipolar?
Bipolar Disorder
Medication
Are there certain medications for PTSD that are different than bipolar? Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My son is 29 years old and was diagnosed with bipolar 12 years ago. He has not functioned much at all during the past 12 years. He lives in a rented room that his father pays for and is on Medicaid. He does nothing all day except self-medicate with marijuana. He takes medicine, but never consistently. How can I convince him to get the help he needs? I feel he needs to go away to a program for at least 60 days, but he refuses. He says he can make himself better by going to therapy. He has been going to therapy on and off for at least 10 years, but he never keeps up with it.
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
We do know that confrontation or strong criticism is usually not helpful in getting people living with bipolar the help they need. Dramatic “interventions” are only effective on daytime TV … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I was diagnosed Cyclothymic about two years ago. I sent my psychiatrist a text today to see if I really need to stay on meds because it's so mild. She said she reclassified me as Bipolar II or possibly "mild" Bipolar I. I've never been hospitalized, and never had psychosis. Can you explain to me what "mild" Bipolar I means? I am totally confused.
Bipolar Disorder
Those terms all refer to bipolar mood patterns, meaning patterns that include both periods of low or depressed mood and periods of elevated mood or over-activation. The specific terms describe … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have been on the same antidepressant since I was 18 years old, and I am now 31. Within the past couple of years, I have been having lots of numbness, dizziness, and stomach issues. My doctor believed it was from the antidepressant, so we reduced the dose. Now, when I am stressed or overwhelmed, I tend to get thoughts of harming myself. But I'm reluctant to try any other medicine or to even continue this one due to the side effects.
Depression
Medication
If you have been taking a medication for many years, it can be hard to know for sure how much it is really helping and whether it is causing side … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My family member was hospitalized almost a decade ago and she has not had problems that severe since then. Now she needs to see a psychiatrist, but no one will see her once she says she was hospitalized. Why not? I feel like something a decade ago should not prevent her from getting help now. Please advise.
Treatment
In any reasonable world, having severe enough symptoms to need inpatient care—ten years ago or last week—would move you to the front of the line to see a psychiatrist. Instead, … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
How do you cope with rapid cycling as it changes day to day. I am working closely with my doctor as he is making changes in meds. In the meantime, how do I weather the storm until things calm?
Mental Health
Treatment
Medication
Rapid mood changes and mixed states (depression and mania/agitation at the same time) can be very distressing and disruptive. And finding the right medication usually does involve some trial-and-error. In … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My adult son has Bipolar I and has lacked the insight to take medication regularly for about ten years. Two years ago, he developed epilepsy and he refuses medication because the ones they have offered him are also used for bipolar disorder, and he thinks it’s a trick. Are there any seizure control medications that have no crossover for use in bipolar treatment?
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
Medication
Yes, only some seizure control or anticonvulsant medications have been shown to be helpful in reducing or preventing mood symptoms. There are three groups of anticonvulsant medication for treating of … Continued Read Dr. Joseph Calabrese's Full Answer
Is there any evidence in support of fish oil supplements to help depression in bipolar disorder?
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
The evidence for the benefits of fish oil (or omega-3 fatty acids) in the treatment of depression is mixed.  Some studies show moderate benefit, and some show no more benefit … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I got really depressed in April and have been off work. The depression has just started to lift, but now I am phobic. I find going out and socializing hard work. Is this the tail end of the depression?
Depression
Other
Losing interest in things you used to enjoy is a central part of depression. Withdrawing from positive activities can keep you feeling depressed.  As you feel better, you should start to … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I've been through ECT treatments for 2 years. I worry about the treatments causing long-term damage to my brain. Can any of the current or upcoming treatments replace ECT for treatment of medication-resistant medication illness?
Treatment
It’s clear that ECT affects short-term memory. If you think of your brain as a computer, ECT can erase anything that you haven’t yet saved to your hard disk. Some … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My husband has chronic joint pain and is clinically depressed. To help him with his discomfort he became licensed to use medical marijuana. Can the use of pot intensify depression? I feel uncomfortable with his use of marijuana, especially since we have a teenager with bipolar disorder in the house.
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
Medication
You are right to be concerned about how marijuana affects people who live with depression and bipolar disorder—especially younger people. Using marijuana can certainly contribute to or worsen depression. Low … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
What are some ways to get over the fears of trusting others? I suffer from depression and borderline personality disorder. I have issues with being around people I don't know because I am afraid I will say or do the wrong thing. Do you have any coping skills or suggestions?
Depression
Other
Both depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD) can cause difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Feeling low or empty can lead people to withdraw from social situations. If, because of illness, you … Continued Read Dr. Holly A. Swartz's Full Answer
Is it valuable to have a brain scan even if clinical symptoms are consistent with bipolar disorder prior to assigning the diagnosis of bipolar disorder?
Bipolar Disorder
Brain scans come in a variety of types.  Some investigate brain structures, for example, “CT” or “CAT” scans (“computerized axial tomography”) or “MRI” scans (magnetic resonance imaging). Other types of … Continued Read Dr. Mark Bauer's Full Answer
A family member was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and with treatment has done extremely well. Just recently he has had serious problems at his job, with his wife and children, and he seems to lack self-awareness. A new doctor diagnosed him with a personality disorder. What’s the difference between a mood disorder and a personality disorder? How could there be two such very different diagnoses?
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
Diagnosing a personality disorder in someone who has a bipolar disorder is complicated. Personality disorder means an enduring and problematic pattern of behavior, especially in relationships with others. Theoretically, this disorder is distinct from mood symptoms like depression, mania, or hypomania. But a sharp distinction is only possible if the problematic pattern of behavior occurs when mood symptoms are completely resolved. Unfortunately, most people living with mood disorders are still waiting for the day when that happens. In reality, the theoretical distinction between personality disorder and a mood disorder is hard to find. Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My daughter has been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and is struggling with oversleeping. At times it can last a full day, and it seems no amount of support/urging can get her out of bed. She is having trouble maintaining a job because of this. Are there particular treatments that can help?
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
For people who live with bipolar disorder, depression and oversleeping go hand in hand. The cause and effect go in both directions. Depression often leads to sleeping more and to a delayed sleep pattern (staying up later and sleeping later); sleeping longer and later can cause or worsen depression. Fortunately, the downward cycle of depression and oversleeping can run in the opposite direction. Reducing hours of sleep and waking early in the morning can have a very strong antidepressant effect Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
As one gets older, does bipolar depression become more prevalent than mania?
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Long-term studies show that both major depression (unipolar and bipolar) and mania are most common in early adulthood and less common in older age. The prevalence of mania tends to decrease … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My husband and I are discussing the possibility of trying to have a baby. I am concerned about staying on medication during pregnancy. If I was planning on getting pregnant, how do I decide whether to stay on the medication I am on or taper off it? Is it safe to be on medication while pregnant?
Medication
You’ve started with the right first step: anticipating and planning ahead. Our biggest concern is about medications causing malformations or birth defects. We’re also concerned about any long-term effects of … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
When I saw a doctor about weight loss surgery, he said I had to have a mental health evaluation from my psychiatrist. What is that for? If I did go ahead with the surgery, how might that affect the medications I take? Is there anything specific I would have to watch out for?
Medication
Other
Bariatric surgery programs often ask for a pre-operative mental health evaluation. The main purpose is to identify any barriers to success after surgery, especially barriers that can be effectively addressed … Continued Read Dr. David E. Kemp's Full Answer
Can medications for depression or ADD cause a psychotic break? My daughter had a sudden psychotic episode after starting a new medication. Her doctors said it was not likely due to the medication, and gave her a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. And she’s still taking mood stabilizer and anti-psychotic medication. Is that necessary for the long term?
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Medication
Medications often used to treat depression or ADD can certainly cause manic episodes, including severe manic episodes with psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusions. Those episodes can come on quite … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Sometimes I get angry and mean and completely lose control. I am alienating my kids, and I fear they will never want to visit me when they leave to go out on their own. What can I do to control my outbursts?
Mental Health
Other
Anyone can have problems with anger or irritability, but those problems are more common for people who live with depression or bipolar disorder. Irritability or anger outbursts are common symptoms … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have suffered with depression and fatigue for over 40 years. Is there anything that will help the 'flatness' and 'no motivation'? I cannot make myself do anything. I also sleep pretty much 18 hours out of 24.
Depression
Addressing any symptom begins with trying to diagnosis the cause. You may be wondering whether your symptoms are due to your mood disorder or could be caused by a general … Continued Read Dr. Gary Sachs's Full Answer
I am exercising and eating well and still can't seem to shed the pounds. I am on antidepressants. What can I do?
Depression
Medication
Losing weight is often a struggle, especially when a person is also living with a mood disorder. The causes are multiple. Increased appetite and carbohydrate craving, along with reduced activity … Continued Read Dr. William Gilmer's Full Answer
Two years ago I ended a long-term relationship that wasn't healthy for me. My mood has been much more stable, and I feel happy for the first time. Can a life circumstance actually change the chemistry in someone's brain to the point where they are no longer bipolar?
Bipolar Disorder
Congratulations! And thank you for sharing the news that recovery is possible. Mood disorders (including depression and bipolar disorder) usually have many causes or contributing factors: the genes you were born … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
How would I know which type of talk therapy is appropriate for me? I’ve suffered abuse both as a child and as an adult. I’ve had problems with amnesia all my life, so never talked about any abuse. Therapists don't want me to go back to the past. What should I do?
Treatment
Other
Finding the right counseling or therapy is complicated—but you already know that! You have to think about the specific person you are seeing (do they listen to you and care … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I’ve heard that natural lithium is available at health food stores and online. It’s supposed to have fewer risks and side effects than prescription lithium. Should I try switching from prescription lithium to the natural kind?
Medication
Lithium dietary supplements usually contain lithium orotate, a different lithium “salt” from the lithium carbonate or lithium citrate in most prescription lithium. Lithium doses in dietary supplements are much lower … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Is depression during pregnancy different from depression at any other time? Is treatment for depression safe or effective for pregnant women?
Depression
Treatment
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about one out of every five or six women will experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy. We diagnose prenatal depression when … Continued Read Dr. Susan L. McElroy's Full Answer
I’ve heard claims about nutritional supplements helping with depression or bipolar disorder. Are any of these supplements actually effective? Could any of them be harmful?
Treatment
Medication
Many different nutritional supplements are sometimes suggested to help with depression or bipolar disorder. Three of them have been studied enough that we can say something about their effectiveness and … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Are sweet holiday treats an effective way to cope with holiday blues? Or is it really true that sugary or fatty foods can cause depression or mood swings?
Mental Health
Depression
Depression or mood swings can certainly make those sugary or fatty foods more tempting and put you at risk for over-indulging. People experiencing depression often prefer foods that are “calorie … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have depression, and in the past have been hospitalized multiple times for attempting suicide. I don't have insurance; how can I get medication?
Depression
Medication
Unfortunately, your question is a common one. Access to medication treatment has two parts: access to a doctor who can prescribe effective medication and access to the medication itself. About … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I've been struggling with depression for over a year to the point where I've begun self-harming. My parents do not know this. I've been wanting to tell them for a while because I truly want help, but I'm afraid. How do I let them know?
Depression
First, let me express my empathy for the pain you have been experiencing this past year. Depression often starts as an invisible wound, and you, like many others, have found … Continued Read Dr. Mary Fristad's Full Answer
I have treatment-resistant depression and PTSD. For me, medications have been ineffective or had side effects worse than the disease. I would like to not take medications for my mood. How can I talk to my doctor about not medicating me?
Depression
Treatment
Medication
Other
Unfortunately, your experience with medication is not uncommon. For some people, antidepressant medications have few positive effects and significant negative effects. If your doctor tries to convince you to try … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have a diagnosis of bipolar, and am taking lithium for my mania. I'm not on an antidepressant, as it will push me into mania, but I'm in so much emotional pain. I only consider taking my life when I'm depressed not manic, what can I do? I need meds for depression, that is what is crucial to keeping me alive.
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Medication
Unfortunately, your situation is a common one. Most people who live with bipolar disorder spend more time feeling depressed than they do feeling speeded up or manic. And traditional mood … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Is there a cure for depression? I have been taking medications for over two decades. I exercise, pray, and have changed my lifestyle. There will always be some stress in my life, as I am the sole caregiver of two adult children with special needs. I have literally tried all I possibly can and I just don't seem to get a breather. Can I get well one day?
Depression
Treatment
Medication
For most people, depression is related to genetics (an inherited tendency to depression) and environment (stressful or traumatic events, either now or in the past). We can’t change our genes and … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have severe depression, but I've often wondered if I have bipolar. My mood constantly changes. One minute I'm fine, the next I'm crying my eyes out. I snap over things I shouldn't get mad over.
Mental Health
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Your question is a very important one, but it’s not an easy one to answer. As you may know, surveys of people living with bipolar disorder find that many people … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My husband and I really want to have children, but I have a family history of mental illness, and I have bipolar disorder. I'm afraid to pass it on to my future kids. My husband worries about this, too. What are my chances of passing this on, and could it potentially get worse?
Mental Health
Bipolar Disorder
For mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder, genes are an important risk factor. But your genes are certainly not your destiny. Here are some numbers to illustrate:  On average, … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
What advice would you give to a dually diagnosed person about stopping drinking at the cost of increasing symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder? I stopped drinking 10 years ago, and 6 months later a living hell of bipolar disorder was exposed.
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Alcohol is probably the world’s oldest treatment for mood disorders. And like other ancient treatments (leeches, arsenic, boring holes in the skull), it usually does more harm than good. Alcohol remains … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Do treatment plans ever include getting off of medication? I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 17 years ago. I’ve tried—unsuccessfully—to get off medications in the past. Now I am seeing a psychologist and changing my thinking and the people that I hang around with. I've been off medication for three months and feeling fine.
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
Medication
Any answer to this question has to start with a reminder that there are averages and there are individuals. On average, we know that both depression and bipolar disorder tend … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
A relative of mine, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has been displaying disorganized thinking, exercising poor judgment without knowing it, overstepping boundaries, with hyper-religiosity. She does not see these things, but her loved ones do. I want to let her know our observations so she can get the right help. How do I gently tell her this without upsetting or alienating her?
Mental Health
Bipolar Disorder
These conversations can certainly be challenging. Despite what you see on television, dramatic confrontations or “interventions” are often not at all helpful. It’s usually best to start with a calm … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I've taken different antidepressants over the years, and now my body seems to reject medications that helped before. Any suggestions?
Depression
Medication
We certainly know that antidepressant medications sometimes seem to stop working. Clinicians started to describe the “Prozac poop out” more than a decade ago, and it seems that the same thing … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Is this as good as it gets? About 14 years ago I was diagnosed with treatment resistant depression—and then bipolar disorder. I take a number of meds. In the past few years I've felt better than I have in a long time, but I still also don't enjoy the things I used to. All I want is to get these things back. Is this as good as it gets?
Treatment
Medication
Unfortunately, your experience is fairly common. For many people living with mood disorders, treatment results in being “better, but not well.” Symptoms may be “controlled” or “stable” (to use the medical … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
What proven strategies, in addition to medication, help improve morale for people who live with bipolar disorder?
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
Medication
For most people who live with bipolar disorder, low mood depression is more common than feeling speeded up or manic. Medications can certainly help reduce or prevent depression, but many … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I believe my daughter’s psychiatrist is going to be prescribing an antidepressant. What are the most important questions I should ask him about taking an antidepressant?
Depression
Medication
The first question to ask is whether your daughter needs an antidepressant or whether there are other treatments that are as effective as an antidepressant. For example, for mild depression, … Continued Read Dr. Karen Wagner's Full Answer
I was prescribed a medication for insomnia. When I take it, I wake up more often than I already did and I feel very hung-over the whole next day. Any suggestions?
Medication
Other
We wish we had a sleeping medication that worked throughout the night to help you stay asleep—and then disappeared completely when you’re ready to wake up.  But biology doesn’t work … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My doctor tells me that I am “drug resistant” and I can’t seem to find a medication that helps. Any suggestions?
Medication
Before talking about next steps, we should be careful to use words that put the blame where it belongs. I wouldn’t say that you are “drug resistant”. I suspect you really do want … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have been noticing memory loss lately, after years on different medications. Is this a side effect? Will it get worse or are there ways to make it better?
Medication
Problems with memory or concentration can certainly be side effects of medications used to treat mood disorders. Figuring that out often takes time and careful observation. Memory problems can build up … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Sometimes I feel like I need medication, when things get really, really dark. But then I fight through those feelings, and when it passes, I feel like I don’t need medication. How do you know if/when it is the right time to start taking medication for depression?
Depression
Medication
When deciding about taking medication for depression, you’ll want to consider the general evidence, your individual experience, and your personal preferences. About the general evidence: Research tells us about averages. On … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Are there other health conditions that can cause depression and bipolar disorder? My doctor tested my thyroid, which made me think it might be connected.
Depression
Other
Many other health conditions (and some medications used to treat other health conditions) can cause mood symptoms. The list of medical problems that can mimic or look like depression is … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
Is it possible to be hypomanic and depressed at the same time?
Mental Health
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Certainly! Some studies, the most common mood state in bipolar disorder is a mixture of hypomanic/manic and depressed symptoms. In fact, the classic picture of bipolar disorder having a course … Continued Read Dr. Mark Bauer's Full Answer
I have bipolar I disorder. My depression is labeled "atypical". What does that mean? Does that require different treatment?
Depression
Treatment
“Atypical depression” is a term sometimes used to describe depression with a specific pattern of symptom, including: Sleeping more than normal (rather than sleeping less) Increased appetite or over-eating (rather … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I was diagnosed at age 18 with bipolar disorder and still have the same struggles at 52. I also have PTSD. Is there evidence that adverse childhood experiences prevail as a factor in mood disorders?
Mental Health
Bipolar Disorder
It’s certainly well established that adverse childhood experiences increase risk for mood disorders (especially chronic depression) and anxiety disorders (especially PTSD). The evidence is clearest for adverse experiences that are … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My daughter is a substance user and also shows symptoms of bipolar disorder. Which should be treated first?
Bipolar Disorder
Treatment
The short answer is: both. Abundant research shows that people with mood disorders are at high risk for substance use disorders. And it also shows that people with substance use … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
What's the longest a recovery period can be after a depressive episode? And, is it possible to exist in a state where depression kind of hovers over you constantly?
Depression
Your question, unfortunately, is a common one. Many people who live with bipolar disorder experience lingering or persistent depression. The mood stabilizer medications currently available are typically more effective for … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
My son is nine and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADHD, and OCD. When he is having one of his meltdowns what is the best way for me to help him through it?
Mental Health
Bipolar Disorder
An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure. Try to develop a plan with him when he is not having a meltdown and write it down. Talk … Continued Read Dr. David Miklowitz's Full Answer
How do I cope with being detached from my emotions? I used to be very suicidal, so this seems to be self-protective. Is it ok?
Mental Health
Protecting ourselves through managing our emotions is important, especially if we’ve been suicidal. Acknowledge it: “I’m looking out for myself. Go me!” There are three types of self-protection: A) Protection … Continued Read Dr. Ursula Whiteside's Full Answer
I believe my daughter’s psychiatrist is going to be prescribing an antidepressant. What questions should I ask him? My daughter is 15.
Depression
Medication
First, it’s important to know the reason your daughter may be prescribed an antidepressant. Assuming she is depressed, ask the psychiatrist about the symptoms of depression so you have a … Continued Read Dr. Karen Wagner's Full Answer
My 32-year-old son has had a mood disorder since he was 18. He and so many other people I see use marijuana chronically. Is it possible that the heavy marijuana use is the cause of mood disorders and not just the way some individuals choose to cope?
Mental Health
Treatment
Medication
Claims made by supporters of medical marijuana and the legal changes in many states suggest that marijuana could be good for your health. But marijuana is very different from prescription … Continued Read Dr. Ryan Caldeiro's Full Answer
Any tips on how to make the transition from one medication to another? I've been through many changes in 27 years and every time it's a struggle.
Medication
Your experience is, unfortunately, very common. Changing medication is difficult, and our ability to predict which medication is right for which person is really not much better than it was … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I live with bipolar disorder, and my moods are complete opposites of one another. How can I tell what is the real me?
Bipolar Disorder
My short answer: neither depression nor mania is the real you. Here’s my long answer: it’s certainly true that depression and mania can have a huge impact on how you … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I’ve had a depressive disorder for years and am finally looking for help. I’m bewildered by the choices: there are psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and psychologists. Where do I start?
Mental Health
Treatment
All of those labels are confusing, because some of them are about the degrees that people have and some are about the treatment they provide. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
A family member was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and with treatment has done extremely well. Just recently he has had serious problems at his job, with his wife and children, and he seems to lack self-awareness. A new doctor diagnosed him with a personality disorder. What’s the difference between a mood disorder and a personality disorder? How could there be two such very different diagnoses?
Mental Health
Diagnosing a personality disorder in someone who has a bipolar disorder is complicated. Personality disorder means an enduring and problematic pattern of behavior, especially in relationships with others. Theoretically, this … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have chronic depression and have used the same antidepressant for 20 years. Lately it seems like it’s not working so well. I’m very sensitive to all medications and the three new antidepressants I’ve tried (different types) have made me terribly ill, even at a tiny dose. What are my options?
Depression
Treatment
Medication
Your experience that an antidepressant seems to wear out after several years is, unfortunately, fairly common. At this time, we don’t understand the biology of antidepressants “pooping out” (as some … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have struggled with self-harm since I was in my early teens. Although the type of self-harm has changed, it has gotten steadily worse. How can I stop this behavior?
Mental Health
Treatment
For some people, urges to self-harm (like cutting) are related to suicidal thoughts or a wish to die. For others, it is not about wanting to die. In either case, … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
An adult family member has bipolar disorder so I’m pretty familiar with the condition. Now my daughter has been diagnosed. Can you tell me if her disorder will “look” the same as her uncle’s? Is bipolar disorder in children the same thing as bipolar disorder in adults?
Bipolar disorder certainly runs in families. Studies of twins suggest that genetics accounts for about half of the risk of developing bipolar disorder. And some specific aspects of bipolar disorder … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer
I have treatment-resistant depression and have tried at least eight drugs which have all made me sick. My doctor says I have a high sensitivity to medication in general and is suggesting that I try medical genetic testing which my insurance may cover. Do you think this is a reasonable next step?
Depression
Treatment
Picking the right antidepressant medication still involves too much trial and error. We certainly hope for a more scientific method for matching each person with the best treatment. Genetic testing … Continued Read Dr. Greg Simon's Full Answer