ZocdocAnswersIs my mother bipolar?

Question

Is my mother bipolar?

I believe my mother is bipolar. She has very bad mood swings and maniac episodes. When she gets mad she will start fighting and fighting. She says very bad things like curses and such. She also says shel do bad things to herself. But after a few days she gets calm and forgets about it. During her maniac episodes she not only crys but keeps on fighting even though told to stop. I also think shes bipolar because she can not deal with change what so ever. A few other symptoms I believe is that she complains alot about pains, she doesnt work so ends up shopping for along time. Shes a great woman sometimes but when she goes crazy, she goes very insane and hurts all of her loved ones verbally. I have brought up that she has bipolar before but she gets very mad at this and as a family have asked her to go see a doctor but she refuses. Please help

Answer

There are a variety of psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, that can cause very distressing symptoms such as those you describe. In order to answer your question, your mother should speak to her physician and see a psychiatrist to be evaluated, diagnosed, and properly treated. Her primary care physician can determine if she truly has a mood disorder or if there is another potential cause for the behaviors you describe, including other psychiatric disorders, substance use, or a medical reason for her symptoms. Although your mother is reluctant to seek treatment, if at any point she is a danger to herself or anyone else, you should call 911 for emergent evaluation. Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder characterized by periods of mania and depression. Mania refers to high energy states in which the person often feels invincible, is very talkative, has racing thoughts, has a decreased need for sleep, and engages in high risk behaviors (gambling, spending large sums of money, promiscuity). These often alternate between periods of depression, which is frequently severe and may result in thoughts of suicide. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, your mother would need to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. There are a variety of medications that can be helpful in treating bipolar disorder, which you mother should discuss with her physician. Beyond bipolar disorder, there are also impulse control disorders which can lead to difficulty regulating emotions. Intermittent explosive disorder is another type of disorder in which the person suffering from the disorder has difficulty controlling their emotions and may have frequent outbursts of aggressive behavior (verbal or physical), often without significant provocation. A psychiatrist can also help to determine if this type of disorder fits with your mother's symptoms and what type of treatment to recommend. There are also personality disorders which can manifest in problematic behaviors. People with borderline personality disorder, for example, often have unstable relationships with others, very labile emotions which can result in angry outbursts, fear of abandonment, and impulsivity. Often people with borderline personality disorder can demonstrate "splitting", in which they see others as either all good or all bad, and these judgments can change rapidly. These characteristics can lead to episodes of intense anger which can be very damaging to relationships. Certain types of therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful for borderline personality disorder. It is not possible to distinguish between these and other possible diagnoses without a thorough in-person evaluation by a physician. It is recommended that your mother seek medical and psychiatric help in order to help with her symptoms. You may also speak with your own physician to determine if there are ways you can seek help for your mother. Again, if at any point you feel that your mother is a danger to herself or to anyone else, you should call 911 for emergent evaluation and assistance.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.