Healing Journey

What is Bipolar / Manic Depression ?


“Giving someone a Psychiatric diagnosis is an immensely powerful act which has profound implications for their identity, relationships place in the community, employment, health and future” Lucy Johnstone, clinical Psychologist

Bipolar / Manic Depression can involve extremes of high and low mood, including depression and periods of elation, over activity and irritability (mania). A person’s sleep can be affected, sleeping more when depressed or not feeling the need for much sleep when in mania or hypomania (the word used to describe a milder version of mania). They can lose the concept of money and spending. As well as lose the sense of time. Some people also experience psychosis (a temporary loss of touch with so called reality).

Depression can be caused by a number of things including poor nutrition, unresolved trauma from childhood, poverty, unemployment, work related stress, lifestyle choices, life circumstances and thought processes.

Manic Depression can impact a person’s life in several ways, so it is important when the symptoms first develop that the person gets the empathy and understanding they need, as well as the most accurate and honest information available. How the first episode is dealt with can have a big impact on the speed of recovery and potential future episodes.

What causes Manic Depression / Bipolar ?

When it comes to Manic Depression, no true biomarkers have been found and no genetic abnormalities have been reliably identified. “A biological marker is an identifiable biological abnormality that consistently and reliably demonstrates the presence of a particular disease … The lack of any investigative tests relative to the diagnosis and management of Psychiatric disorders is striking” Dr Terry Lynch [1]

We are told that Manic Depression is a “disease” yet there is no evidence there to back this up.

The drugs used to treat mania / psychosis are basically strong tranquilizers eg Olanzapine, Quetiapine etc Some people claim that Lithium helps. Others feel it doesn’t. (See my blog on Lithium).

In my experience, there is a lot more to be gained from looking from an environmental and emotional perspective. Including addressing lifestyle issues.

When it comes to the “chemical imbalance” theory, it is not possible to measure neurotransmitter levels in the brain of a live human. Information sources e.g. brochures sponsored by drug companies, make unscientific and unproven claims that anti-depressants rebalance brain neurotransmitter levels.

However, it’s been known since at least 2001 that anti-depressants, instead of bringing “balance”, can lead to mania & psychosis in some people [2]. These drugs do not “unmask” serious mental health conditions, as some Psychiatrists try to claim. They cause them.

Potential adverse effects of anti-depressants are not highlighted enough to ensure the person has informed consent. “Anti-depressants” can turn mild / moderate, temporary feelings of Depression into a more chronic condition called tardive dysphoria, according to medical journalist Robert Whitaker and his research. This has been my experience of the drug Citalopram [3].

While I can’t seem to find the exact link at the moment, I came across this information on a drug safety website [4] ~ “Prior to initiating treatment with an antidepressant, patients with depressive symptoms should be adequately screened to determine if they are at risk for bipolar disorder; such screening should include a detailed psychiatric history, including a family history of suicide, bipolar disorder, and depression”.

According to Dr John Studd, in women sometimes severe Premenstral tension is misdiagnosed as Bipolar with tragic consequences “It is not known how frequently severe PMS is misdiagnosed as bipolar disease by Psychiatrists but it does occur” [5]

In the current system people are told that Bipolar is a life long illness that will require medication for life. Such a prognosis, while being very lucrative for the pharma industry, can be a life sentence for many and also takes away hope of true healing. With the right information and knowledge, healing is possible.

In her book clinical Psychologist Lucy Johnstone highlights that the process of recovery has to start with the most accurate description of what is going on for the person [6]. In the current system this sometimes gets hidden, overlooked or forgotten, in the rush to label and prescribe psychoactive drugs.

I have another blog entitled Tips on dealing with symptoms of Bipolar where you can get more information. I found the book by Declan Henry called Why Bipolar? to be very good. A review of this book that I wrote can be found here [7]. The work of Sean Blackwell was a big part of my own recovery journey, as I was left to deal with my last episode of mania/psychosis alone, back in December 2012. Not something I recommend but I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. I got through it and haven’t experienced it since [8]. Dr Terry Lynch has also a great insight into Bipolar and has set up online courses [9].

In the field of mental health people need to be as informed as possible as some day, without much warning, we can find ourselves, a relative or a friend coming in contact with the current mental health system. While some people may feel they benefit from been told they have Bipolar, in my experience with the stroke of a pen a Psychiatrist can change a person’s life. The diagnosis may not have been a correct one. Something I’ve explored in previous blogs. For nearly a decade I’ve been left picking up the pieces of my own life. I am a work in progress but getting there. On one levels it has been a Spiritual journey.

{ Important Do not stop or change prescribed psychoactive drugs without consulting your prescriber, due to the dangers of withdrawal. Any changes need to take place under the supervision of an expert. Some people may feel they benefit from Lithium or other drugs I mention here. What I discuss in part of this blog is my own experience and is not medical advice. We all have our own unique journey.}

Note ~ ‘Psychosis’ does not necessarily mean the person will become violent, even though that is how it is portrayed in the media and by some Psychiatrists in the courts. We are not always given the full picture e.g. what drugs or alcohol the person was taking and the effect withdrawal from or stopping drugs, both prescribed and illicit, can have on the person’s mental state.


[1] Depression Delusion: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance ~


My review of this book ~ www.goodreads.com/user/show/46943899-anne

[2] Antidepressant-associated Mania and Psychosis resulting in Psychiatric admissions, 2001

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11235925 (Yale study)

[3] Now Antidepressant-Induced Chronic Depression Has a Name: Tardive Dysphoria, 2011

by medical journalist Robert Whitaker


[4] An independent drug safety website to help you weigh the benefits of any medication against its potential dangers. www.rxisk.org

[5] Severe PMS and Bipolar Disease – a tragic confusion, Dr. John Studd


[6] A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis by Lucy Johnstone

My review of this book ~

[7] My review of Why Bipolar? by Declan Henry ~


[8] Sean Blackwell’s work ~ www.youtube.com/user/bipolarorwakingup

Corrina Rachel speaking to Sean Blackwell about Bipolar ~

~ www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLIeS6idzD4

[9] Dr. Terry Lynch has information and courses on the topic of Manic Depression / Bipolar ~


Other useful Resources

Most people labelled as having Depression have suffered grief that hasn’t been resolved”
www.herald.ie/lifestyle/health-beauty/most-people-labelled-as-having-depression-have-suffered-grief-that-hasnt-been-resolved-31216116.html (Prof Ivor Browne, 2015)

“Every third person who comes to me now is labelled Bipolar … If you looked back, that was once considered a rare condition and what’s more, most people eventually recovered”

Psychiatry in Context : Experience, Meaning & Communities by Dr Philip Thomas


My review of this book ~ www.goodreads.com/user/show/46943899-anne

The Myth of the chemical cure’ Dr Joanna Moncrieff ~


Joanna Moncrieff – The Myth of the Chemical Cure: The Politics of Psychiatric Drug Treatment


The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive presented by Stephen Fry


Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families