If I were the Bipolar Wellness Czar, I would concentrate my efforts and provide funding for the 20 priorities I am outlining in four posts. If some of these are already being pursued and I’m not aware of it, I’m delighted. If you have any comments or ideas of your own, I'd love to hear them.
1. Triggering Event. There needs to be more research on the initial event that triggers people’s first depressive episode. What caused it? Was it a result of the stress of “life events” or was it a traumatic event or series of events, like sexual abuse or domestic abuse? Did the BIP receive treatment? What kind? Was it effective? How would the BIP evaluate the treatment?
2. Personality tests. I am sure there is a plethora of tests that could provide valuable information about whether bipolar depressives have similar personality characteristics. What about our temperaments? Are there qualities we have that contribute to our illness? Are there coping skills we’re missing?
3. Physical Examination. Everyone who is diagnosed with bipolar depression should be given a complete physical to determine if there are any physical reasons for their illness. For example, if bipolar disorder causes an imbalance with the limbic system, adrenal glands, and endocrine system, what impact does this have on the illness? How can this information aid treatment?
4. Psychological Examination. Everyone who is diagnosed with bipolar depression should be given a complete psychological evaluation to determine whether they have an underlying pathology or are just depressed. The treatment should be individualized for each client.
5. Bipolar Depression. Even the lead investigators of the $16 million National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) study, Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder, concluded that, “The average person with bipolar disorder typically experiences major depressive episodes more than three times as frequently as symptoms of severe mood elevation or mania. Bipolar depression is difficult to treat, and its persistence and severity is associated with reduced ability to function in daily life.”
Since these conclusions are so obvious as to be ridiculous, and the NIMH is clearly incompetent when it comes to making progress on the treatment of bipolar disorder, I would suggest that a congressional committee comprised of BIPS and others review funding and treatment practices for bipolar disorder.