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Bipolar and dysthymia? and changing diagnoses


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so my latest diagnosis is persistent mood disorder in the ICD 10, which seems to be known as dysthymia. My pdoc thinks on top of this I also have bipolar and possibly borderline personality disorder.

Is it possible to have dysthymia as well as bipolar?

On another note, I'm struggling with my diagnosis changing so often, how do you cope with that? I feel like my diagnosis is all I really know about how I'm feeling, and when it changes I'm left floundering like I don't know who I am anymore. I guess that's the borderline coming through that I don't know who I am? Anyone else feel like this?

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I don't know enough to say anything about dysthymia/bipolar comorbidity, but I can certainly empathize with how difficult it is to deal with shifting diagnoses. I went in with a rough case of OCD, and am now trying to deal with BP II also (which in my case makes for some quite delusional anxiety during abnormal mood states, begging the question of how to draw the line between extreme panic/anxiety and psychosis). Right now I'm going back and forth between identification and denial. In any case, hang in there and know that at least in this regard you are not alone!

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Yes, you can have bipolar and cyclothymia. There is a mood called "double depression" That is from being depressed from bipolar and cyclothymia at the same time.

 

Dysthymia is the depressed side of cyclothymia. I didn't know you could just have the depressed side, but that doesn't mean you can't, I just haven't heard of it.

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Yes, you can have bipolar and cyclothymia. There is a mood called "double depression" That is from being depressed from bipolar and cyclothymia at the same time.

 

Dysthymia is the depressed side of cyclothymia. I didn't know you could just have the depressed side, but that doesn't mean you can't, I just haven't heard of it.

 

dysthymia can be separate diagnosis. double depression, in my experience, usually means MDD and dysthymia. i actually never knew you could qualify for diagnoses of both bipolar disorder and cyclothymia/dysthymia at the same time. i thought you needed to rule either one out to make a diagnosis. 

Edited by cosima
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The diagnosis isn't who you are. You're still the same person with the same history and the same strengths, no matter what diagnosis is currently scribbled into your chart.  Sometimes it takes a while to find the 'right' one -- one that seems to make sense and guides treatment to help cope with your problems.

 

When I get a new diagnosis, I "try it on" and see how much of my behavior it explains, how well it fits my developmental history, and, most importantly, what it might say about getting better. I usually find different ways to think about myself, or have some sort of insight into what my problems are. Even if a diagnosis is later discarded, I've still learned something about myself.

 

For instance, someone said you might have borderline personality disorder. So you looked it up and saw that a shifting sense of identity was one of the traits you identified with. Well, maybe after getting to know you better, the therapist doesn't think you have borderline anymore. But you still have that shifting sense of identity -- that's a real thing about you that you learned by thinking about a diagnosis. You get to keep that insight. 

 

As for dysthymia and bipolar: I don't think you can have both. They're different explanations for the same behavior. 

 

I thought I had dysthymia or depression for decades. It turns out I have bipolar 2. BP2 people spend a lot of time in the "kinda depressed" area of the mood spectrum -- so dysthymia and BP2 would look very similar. BP2 have occasional forays into "feeling pretty good, actually, really good" that are really difficult for therapists to pick up on. And even though BP2 and dysthymia look the same most of the time, treatment is different. Anti-depressants, which makes sense for depression, make bipolar people less stable; so it's important to make the distinction. 

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From my extensive (cough, cough) research, it looks like ovOidampUle is correct. Cyclothymia is a lesser form of bipolar illness (not saying it doesn't make you feel like shit).

 

To be fair to myself (which is oh so important), I was told my a pdoc early in my career as a crazy person that I had both. But he generally sucked, and I never heard that from anyone else.

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