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Bipolar Affective Disorder

Good News: Education Works Like A Good Medicine For Bipolar Patients!

Medical Journal Reports Fewer Mood Swings When Patients Know How To Anticipate A Mood Cycle

Family Members Are Part Of The Success Story In Taming Spring Mania

by Harris Jensen, MD

Editor, Good Day Journal

Key Words: Bipolar Affective Disorder, Mental Health Treatment, Brain Science, Creativity, Artists, Vincent Van Gogh.

(For a dynamic graphics version of article in pdf, or an audio version with the article read by the author, select the blue "attachments" link below, and select the article version of your choice.HJ)

Bipolar is getting more and more ink in the press now days.  Even in Oprah, readers had much to say about the “Bipolar Diaries” article it published.
One problem often seen with bipolar, that has puzzled doctors for hundreds of years, is the peculiar problem of more manic episodes occurring in spring and summer than in fall and winter.  There also seems to be more mood swings at the start of spring and at the start of fall.
The cause remains unknown, but has been observed in studies around the world.
Kay Redfield Jamison’s excellent book, “Touched With Fire,” about creative geniuses who had bipolar disorder, noted Vincent Van Gogh’s production of paintings varied by month.  October through February were the low months when he was often depressed, sometimes even psychotic, and he drew and painted from 100 to 150 works per month.  Then things picked up March through September, his mood would brighten, thoughts and creative genius flowed more freely, and he painted more--175 to 250 paintings and drawings per month.
“If the emotions are sometimes so strong that one works without knowing one works, when sometimes the strokes come with a continuity and a coherence like words in a speech or a letter,” Van Gogh wrote about himself, “then one must remember that it has not always been so, and that in time time come there will again be hard days, empty of inspiration.
“So one must strike while the iron is hot, and put the forged bars on one side.”
(Quoted on page 142 of Jamison’s book, from Van Gogh, The Complete Letters, Letter 504, June, 1888, vol. 2, pp.598-599.)
Mania is quite treatable now, compared to 120 years ago.
There are more than a dozen medicines that work to control mania and doses can be increased to control racing thoughts and other manic symptoms, such as irrational rage, if only the person can see the mania.
But the manic person is often the last to know they are manic.
Family members and friends can see the mania, however.  The rapid, pressured speech, the fidgetiness, the constant need to be busy, the increased level of impulsivity--all are “flags” that a manic episode is happening. 
Catching the mania the first day or two it hits, often when just one symptom is present, such as rapid speech caused by racing thoughts, can stop a full manic episode from happening. 
Stopping mania can help a person keep their job and keep their money and marriage.  The impulsivity of a manic episode can be associated with spending sprees totaling five or ten thousand dollars and that has lead some to lose their house or credit rating, and many have declared bankruptcy.
The irrational rage can terrorize a family and many marriages end in divorce with the spouse on the “receiving end” of the manic anger just getting burnt out.  The spouse loses love for the person who yells and screams and rants and raves at the ones they love.
It can be stopped!
Paying close attention to the “tip of the iceberg” of a manic episode, can result in a quick change in medication and a halt to the coming wave of mania.
The British Medical Journal reported in 1998 that teaching bipolar patients how to spot a  coming manic episode resulted in fewer “full blown” manic episodes, and much better social functioning. Click this link to see the full article: Educate.  (HYPERLINK "" )
These educated patients, compared to patients who didn’t know how to spot symptoms of mania that suggested a full blown manic episode was on the way, had more stable moods.

Educated bipolar patients in this study had:
fewer manic episodes
longer times between manic episodes
better social lives
more stable work experiences.

What didn’t change in this study was the amount of depression these patients experienced.  More study is needed on ways psychotherapy and training can reduce depression in bipolar--and these studies are being done.

For families wanting to work as a team to help their family member with bipolar disorder, you can go to the "category" on the web site here, at Good Day Journal (on the right side of your computer screen beside this article) and click on "Dr. Jensen Forms" which are forms created by Dr. Jensen.  You don't have to be his patient to use these forms.  They are for anyone and everyone!  There is a form entitled "Jensen Monthly Mood Symptom Chart" and you can download the pdf or word file under that name, and use it!  How's that for using science to help you make wiser choices?  GDJ 3/19/08

Diagramming Thoughts Worksheet

Diagramming Thoughts Worksheet


Common Myths About Bipolar Affective Disorder

Harris Jensen, MD  1019 Remington Street, Fort Collins, CO  970-416-8354

Myths and Facts About Bipolar Affective Disorder

Dr. Harris Jensen's Clipboard Notes

Harris Jensen, MD  1019 Remington Street , Fort Collins, CO  970-416-8354

Jensen Monthly Bipolar Symptom Chart

Good News For People With Bipolar: Here's A Great Chart To Track Your Mood!

Below is a pdf document for printing off a monthly mood symptom chart for tracking how bipolar mood swings are doing each day.  Click on the blue "attachments" link below and then click on the pdf link or word link to download the document, which can then be printed off.  You can then write on the chart to track symptoms.  If you want to type in data, you can try doing that on the word document and then print it off.  Additional notes can be hand written on the back side of the

Bipolar Affective Disorder Myths And Facts

Dr. Harris Jensen's Clipboard Notes On Bipolar Affective Disorder: Myths and Facts
written by Harris Jensen, MD
Key Words: bipolar affective disorder, medication, psychiatrist, psychiatric treatment, mood swings, scientific facts.

The notes below are documents relating to the identification and treatment of bipolar affective disorder, otherwise known as manic depression, which I have found useful in my medical practice. Information is powerful. This is “news you can use.” Misinformation abounds about bipolar mood swings and their treatment.

Fighting Depression


Fighting Depression: It's tougher than most people think

by Harris Jensen, MD

Keywords: Depression, antidepressant, treatment resistant depression.