Bipolar Disorder and childhood trauma...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by lovemysons, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Recently I had a conversation with a friend who knows about my pyschotic breakdown 5 yrs ago and diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. I shared much of my childhood with her and she said that it was no surprise that I have Bipolar Disorder...that it was likely triggered by childhood trauma.

    Now, I know my bio-dad's side has mental illness issues as well as alcoholism
    Just curious how many of you believe that trauma "induces" Bipolar Disorder?

    I also have heard it said, smile...(paraphrasing)
    "No one gets out of childhood without trauma".

  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    From what I read when my son suddenly burst into a difficult child, a trauma can trigger bipolar and even a couple of profs told me that. While I do believe that's parobably true, I also think PTSD and anxiety disorders along with trauma effests, PTSD- can often be mis-diagnosis'd as bipolar. I guess being cynical these days, I don't have faith that all MH profs are competent enough to look very hard at a diagnosis instead of going with what is 'popular'. I could say the same thing for the treatment approaches they recommend- some of them just go with whatever the current popularity dictates.

    My personal opinion as a layman only- if bipolar is in your genetic makeup, trauma or puberty, etc, could trigger it but if it's not in your genetic background, the trauma reactions are probably something else besides bipolar.

    Sorry- that wasn't much of a clear answer was it?
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is what I've been told, but, of course, I could probably find a professional who would tell me otherwise :)

    A trauma can trigger something IF IT IS ALREADY IN THE GENEPOOL. Some people are incredibly resilient and do not develop mental illness in spite of traumas. I'm amazed by what some people have gone through and have turned out so well...often with therapy to work through the trauma.
  4. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    No I think that's a good explanation.
    Plus regardless of what happend to me I know I exhibited early indications of a "mood disorder" with Over-The-Top extreme reactions even as a toddler. I "hear" I would violently bang my head against the wall, bite, hit etc at 2-3 yrs old.

    I also think the onset of puberty (hormones) can really trigger between the ages of 9 to 13. I think this is what happend to my Young difficult child. That's when his extreme reactions began to show up.

  5. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I so agree. I mean there are plenty of people around the world who have experienced incredible atrocity and yet they grow and thrive. It can be done.

    Genetics is likely the culprit in all this.

    It was sad for me as a young adult...who did not "know" I had Bipolar Disorder, to be reminded by different people, of what a difficult child I was. I think it caused me to become even more depressed. I just remember as a young adult (25) feeling like I need to compensate for being "such a terrible child" by being a "perfect adult". I had no balance in my life in this way if you Know what I mean?.

    I wish Bipolar Disorder was well-understood when I was a child so that I would not have necessarily felt such extreme guilt over some of the behaviors I exhibited as a child...what a "difficult" child I was etc.

  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think its genetic and trauma just helps it along. I was exhibiting childhood bipolar symptoms from toddlerhood. I was punished severely for it which just made it worse.
  7. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry Janet... I understand.

    One time when I was in 6th/7th grade I had been acting out in anger and had even pulled a knife on myself at my mom's friend's house.
    This "friend" told my mom to leave the room. She ordered me to sit directly in front of her and began to slap me violently. If I moved my head the wrong the way I got slapped.
    This was her answer to "straighten me out" so that I was not such a brat for my mother.

  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    MY sister who is around 3 years younger than I, is diagnosed with bipolar. You all are giving me more insight. She always got her way by throwing fits etc. and because I didn't I always got the you are the oldest and you need to set the example speech but it never paid off. I am thinking she really was like this as a youngster. She probably was light difficult child. (we really were really good kids , smile)

    Just wanted to thank you, I know that is not your point here, but it touched me.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    So it sounds like we're kind of agreed that it's a combination?
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I have to agree it's a combo.

    I also agree that docs tend to not always take the time to make certain it's not PTSD, anxiety or other things instead of bipolar, especially when there is trauma involved. My psychiatrist went with a bipolar diagnosis when i saw him after the accident....but decided that was not the case, it was PTSD (in over drive) and anxiety with some Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) issues tossed in for good measure. Bipolar diagnosis was dropped. He must've been right as I've not seen a medication in oh, about 6 yrs now. But unfortunately with many docs once you're given a diagnosis they have a real issue with letting go of it.

    I've had several psychiatrists and therapist marvel that somehow my past childhood trauma didn't manage to majorly mess me up. Oh, there are a few minor issues, but nothing compared to what they'd expect to see.

    I think when it's referred to like that it's meant that the disorder was already present, the trauma just made it so that it was more in your face as far as symptoms / behavior goes. I mean if other life events can trigger mania or depression, it makes since that trauma would do the same in a person with bipolar. The same can be said for schizophrenics too. Now my mom, well, her symptoms really showed up in her early 20's (common) no real trigger. Aunt's was believed to be present but triggered by severe physical abuse. My niece on husband's side's first husband had his triggered by the gulf war. He'd had odd behaviors before, but came back a totally different person it was so severe.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have a half dozen actual diagnosis's if you want to get technical. My psychological reports are real charmers to read. I actually get depressed reading them. That sounds glib but the first time I really saw one I cried buckets. Oh I knew what one looked like of course and I pretty much knew what to expect but to see everything in black and white with it all on a form was just too much for me especially since there was one diagnosis that no one had ever told me about. That was the borderline.

    All told I have BiPolar (BP) 1 with rapid cycling, Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Executive Functioning Disorder. That is just the psychological stuff.

    Now I dont think the PTSD or the EFD or the Cognitive Dulling stuff I have going on are genetic. That all comes from life events. The bipolar is genetic. The borderline I believe I was genetically "ripe" to succumb to get but my early childhood caused it. The anxiety is just tied into it all. Cant really say where that falls into it all. With my life and what I am going through...oh heck...just throw some Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) on top and call it a day!
  12. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    There are many issues that need both the predisposition, then can become manifest with "trauma. For instance, both my grandmothers and my dad had Type II diabetes. When I was pregnant (trauma for my body), I developed gestational diabetes. After pregnancies were over, no diabetes (although I still do have some issues with blood sugar). I know if I gain a lot of weight (trauma for my body) I run a high risk of developing full blown diabetes again.