Post Edited (jk) : 8/23/2005 8:36:00 AM (GMT-6)
Hi, Leighann, I'm so glad you posted here.
IMO your daughter is indeed ADD, probably not ADHD since you didn't mention hyperactivity, but if she is hyper, cannot sit still, fidgety, etc. she is probably ADHD.
The lack of organization and the messiness are the key. And also, jk was dead on right about the meds - stimulants (especially pharmaceutical methamphetamine derivatives OMG!) will cause a mania so bad it's scary. Even antidepressants do it. She has no manic symptoms whatsoever. Depression/anxiety is common among people with ADD, because of their lack of organization, forgetfulness therefore unable to accomplish and finish things in a timely manner in many cases. They feel they are not as good as other people, so social anxiety is common as well. However, when they are doing something, they can "hyperfocus" to the point the whole world ceases to exist and they are perfectionists in this state, overachievers in fact. This is probably the reason she has a scholarship. These are the common symptoms, but there are many types of ADD. It is also inherited. Irritability is common, snapping at people is very common. They are frustrated a lot of the time.
My husband happens to be ADD as well, so I live with it also. It's hard, I know, but he does well on meds. If she is not doing well, just like every single mental disorder out there, it's time to change doses or medicine or add something. Usually a stimulant/antypsychotic combo does the trick, but not always. If she is doing poorly, it's time to see/call the pdoc.
Here are a list of BP symptoms. At least one episode of these manic/hypomanic symptoms must be present for a minimum of 4 days, usually longer.
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Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.
Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
I don't know enough to comment on your daugter's symptoms, but it sounds like there is evidence to suggest that she needs to be reevaluated. I know this is far easier said than done. I was never diagnosed with BP until I had finished University just 2 years ago and had barely scraped through my last few semesters with all of the struggles trying to keep up. I always figured that I was lazy and just didn't have it in me to "keep it together" but turns out that I needed help. I wish I knew then what I know now. What you described is much of what I went through from about the time I turned 16.
You might want to get in touch with the student health department at your daughter's school (or even find them on the web and see what services they offer) and see if there is on-campus support for her and suggest that she make a visit. I know that many schools have counsellors and doctors that cater to students, and mental health is an area of growing focus. The big benefit of this type of program is accessiblity (usually no-charge) and they might have a coping strategy with counselling and/or medication that would help your daughter to stick to a more regular routine of treatment regardless of her diagnosis. They would also be able to refer her to academic counselling that might be available. Universities and colleges are becoming more aware that not everyone is the same and they can sometimes make alternative arrangements with schedules or course loads that might make it a easier for your daughter to keep up.
I've been lucky that I've been relatively responsive to medication and it has allowed me to live a more average lifestyle. I think that there are all sorts of ways to cope with these disorders, ADD/BP/etc, but medication can be the first step to gain some clarity in the madness of everyday life until you can find another way to manage the disorder through nutrition, lifestyle or otherwise.
Know that my thoughts are with you in your efforts and we're all here for support,
Post Edited (psychnurse) : 8/23/2005 3:13:21 PM (GMT-6)
I really hope she does decide to get help for it, it's a very dangerous illness that can and often does destroy lives without help. Unfortunately, many of us deny the diagnosis and refuse treatment. Or, we go on and off meds, because we dont' like to be brought down in any way. I think you should, if she gets formally diagnosed bipolar, see a counselor that deals with BPs and help her understand the gravity of the disorder, so she can get help before she does damage to herself/relationships/financial matters. Please continue to write in here and let us know how it's going, OK? Know we are all here to support you, and hopefully she will write in as well.