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Anyone else very seasonal? Is there ever full remission of symptoms?

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I hope this post isn't too navel gazing.  I apologize if it is.  I think, after ten years of receiving a bipolar diagnosis repeatedly from various pdocs and tdocs, I am finally coming to terms with what it means.  I'm a big info gatherer and very much in that stage.  So thank you for bearing with me as I wander my way to my question here.  :)


Tomorrow I see my pdoc and while everyone (my DH, most people here, my own "smart girl inner voice," my pdoc, therapist friends who know about my dx) tell me ultimately what type of BP I am doesn't really matter, *I* want to know.


The more reading up I do, the more confused I get.  I honestly seem to fall right on the line between the two and that maddens me.  I like things to be neat and tidy.   :P


Anyway.  With the intent of painting a clearer picture for my pdoc, I went through my teenage and college journals to create a timeline.  The seasonal pattern was pretty extreme.  Usually around April or May I'd start writing more frequently, my handwriting was messier beause I was writing faster I assume, and I would write about how suddenly life felt like things were just coming together.  By July (one year as early as May, and another year was actually backwards) I was writing really nonsensical poems, sketching pictures of what colors would look like if they were emotions, writing prose about floating, and then journal entries would be about how I had no control of my life and felt edgy.


By November I felt worthless, guilty, couldn't make it to class, was eating too much, etc.  Except for that one year where I was (hypo?)manic in winter and depressed in summer.


So, here are my musings/question for those who are seasonal, or those who know a fair bit about seasonal types of bipolar disorder.


I wasn't particularly "stable" during spring or fall.  It was more like scrambling to make up for the previous up/down.  I come from a family where there was a lot of pressure to be perfect and lots of shame for not being so.  Nobody acknowledged when I was spinning out, or down in the depths.  I was bailed out when I shouldn't have been.  It ultimately kept me from getting a dx until my mid-30s.  So, I don't know if my mood was relatively stable considering that, or still not stable.


If I understand 1 vs. 2 correctly, in type 1 your symptoms do go into full remission between episodes?  Or no?


Would love to hear from other very seasonal types how your symptoms play out over the course of a year.


Currently, my brain seems to just respond to stress with (hypo)mania.  I feel like I am constantly fighting it off, and if I try to white knuckle it in the winter time, it turns itself into mixed yuckiness.



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I'm very seasonal too, although my seasons are somewhat opposite yours...I tend to get manicky in the fall through midwinter, and especially depressed in the middle of the summer. I think my pattern is kinda backwards though; most bipolar people w/ a seasonal pattern seem to get more manic with increased sunlight and depressed with decreased.


your symptoms even sound a lot like mine. I am diagnosed BP2 but im not 100% sure if it's accurate for me either. that's for another post though....


I think the technical difference between 1 and 2 is that 1 gets full-on manic, whereas 2 gets only up to hypomanic, which is a milder form of mania. I don't know if a full remission between episodes is more common with type 1 or not, but I don't think it's necessary in order to be diagnosed with type 1.

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My pdoc noticed that I would often have symptoms during the late fall/winter.  I think it had to do with the time change, getting darker earlier outside and a change in routine at that time of year.  I have been having some dips in mood recently, but not like then.  I wouold get paranoid, irritable and eventually psychotic.


The difference between bp1 and 2 is that with bp1 you have mania and with bp2 you have hypomania.  Sometimes dx change over time with how your symptoms present.  I guess you know that already if you have been researching.  People cycle differently.  When I am symptomatic I have long periods of mania, but I don't cycle as frequently as some people.  If you have moe than 4 episodes in ayear that is called rapid cycling.  I have never heard of periods of remission distinguishing the 2.


Tell your pdoc as much as you can so they can help treat your symptoms.


As far as your title, for myself I haven't had manic or psychotic symptoms in years.  I do have some depressions but they are milder.

Edited by confused
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I'm reading a book that just mentions that people with type 1 tend to have longer periods with no symptoms, while people with type 2 tend to suffer more overall.


I honestly *still* - despite having read everything here, and on other websites and in books, and having pored over my journals - don't know if I get manic, or REALLY hypomanic.


I want to say full on manic, but more mildly than others, but ... dude.  I don't know. 




(Totally self-imposed though)

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This is something from WebMD




The symptoms listed are for mania.


With hypomania it may not seem to be a problem or you may be impulsive and make poor decisions, but with both types you usually have periods of depression also

Edited by confused
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^Thank you.  I feel like I'm annoying myself at this point, so you are very patient :)


I did a lot of drugs when I think I was manic.  That makes it ever so complicated.


As I've gotten older my manias got more paranoid and dysphoric.  I guess I can lay it all out there for pdoc tomorrow.  He's the expert, we'll see what he thinks :)

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I tend to do badly in the summer, and again about Jan-Feb of every year. So the just about now part is still working, I'm depressed. I need to get my ass in gear because I can tell that I am still headed down, but it is hard for me, because I am depressed.


Last summer, there was so much going on, we both went onto SSDI, which also meant DH was no longer working (I already hadn't been), which he felt humiliated about. We decided we had to move out of California to stay on budget, and moved to SLC near my best friend. I was having headaches every day (why I was on SDDI), and DH moved the WHOLE HOUSE by himself. I kept begging him to use some of my SSDI backpay to hire movers, but no. So he was always in a bad mood, and I felt really distraught all the time. But it wasn't like my usual summer episode, which seems to go back and forth between dysphoric mania and dysphoric hypomania.


The summer before last was actually the first time I had psychotic features. So I was 48, before I had an obvious symptom which confirmed I was manic, not just spectacularly dysphorically hypomanic. From age 24, I went from MDD, to BP 2, to BP NOS, to BP 1. So you can see it isn't very straightforward, there aren't bright line demarcations all the time.


I used to get depressed in the fall, and felt the worst at the solstice, but that just isn't true for me anymore.  I was really shocked and relieved I didn't go off the rails this past summer, but I am afraid it was the strangeness of the situation, and things will be back to normal this summer.


Oh, and I was in full remission once for somewhere between 5 and 6 years, depending at which point I decide it dates, May have been a little hypo towards  the end there. At this point, I feel like I am always mildly symptomatic, but it can be very mildly. I've never heard any theory of BP 1 being more prone to go into full remission between episodes.

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Thanks. I guess my question was two, or even threefold.

Beyond just the type 1 vs. 2 thing, wondering who here out of the seasonal folks is NOT symptompatic between their up and down seasons?

Do you ever get mixed or dysphoric? Where does that fall, season wise? Just wondering.

I'm very seasonal

I'm in the sth hemisphere, but generally july things really suck, mania happens only when spring comes virtually overnight from winter one day to sun and roses and spring the next

these days heavily medicated i spend more time baseline with anxiety as primary concern than anything else. but i also have a low stress life on a pension

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ray_of_sunshine, your post struck such a strong chord with me--I've experienced very, very similar things to what you described in your first post, as well as to what other seasonal cyclers have shared.  My mother's psychiatrist off-handedly diagnosed me with seasonal affective disorder when I was growing up.  I have had more depression in the fall/winter and less so in the spring/summer for most of my 38 years.  It occurred to me that since moving back to New England a few years ago, I have landed in the hospital like clockwork in November or December with severe depression.  My longer manic episodes seem to occur in the summer.  I am more often symptomatic than not, and experience more depression than mania.  For me, mixed episodes occur sometimes when I am going from depression to mania.  I had a pretty bad mixed episode as mine go last week, but I'm in a sort of manic/hypomanic holding pattern while I'm waiting to get my meds squared away--I believe the AD I'm on is causing the mania/hypomania.  And things are a bit muddled since I've been medicated for most of my life, and I can't always tell where I end and the meds begin, if that makes sense.


I was diagnosed with MDD at a young age, then BP II in my early 30s, then BP I at 36.  I'm quite sure that's the right diagnosis.


Very interesting post, thank you for raising these questions.  Lots for me to think about here.

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We *do* have a similar history.  I also have migraine, ED (history, not current) and drug/alcohol abuse in my history.


When I was 14 I bought a book on SAD - that was 1993, so it was kind of "out there" I recall.  I diagnosed myself. 


Saw pdoc today and went through symptoms thoroughly.  BP 1 is official diagnosis.  So now I've been through the same rings of diagnoses:  SAD, MDD, cyclothymia (did anyone throw that one at ya ever?), BP 2 and BP 1.


I guess I was led to believe 1 and 2 were less spectrumy than my pdoc explained them to be.  My reading made them sound so separate, but, of course, they have the same name.  Of course they aren't separate.  None of this is, really, is it? 



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I'm often very seasonal, I get more sad during the winter and I usually feel better or manic/hypomanic during the spring, summer, and early/mid fall, but I don't think my symptoms ever go into full remission. Thinking about it now, that's probably why I've gotten in over my head in college-great enthusiasm at first (still warm out and sunny at that point), then depression sets in and I flounder. Sometimes I'm still depressed in the warmer months, as was the case this past spring and summer, but 2012 I think I got hypomanic in the summer to some extent because that's when I decided to go off my meds because I thought I didn't need them. That was a bad idea. because then I fell into this horrendous depression by that late fall that I've been fighting ever since.

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Vacillate-Wildly, are there any colleges around you that have quarters instead of semesters? Maybe you could take the Spring and the Summer quarters, and avoid the Fall and Winter ones? If you have credits, perhaps you could transfer them. Just throwing that out there.

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