Monday, January 14, 2013

We Pray to the Lord - Part 3: For A Better Understanding of Medications Used to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Yes, I’m writing more about Bipolar Disorder in my Liturgy House blog. Liturgy is Life. Life is Liturgy. In my life recently, I’ve really really really been focused on The Prayers of The Faithful, the General Intercessions, as it were.

These are public prayers said at the formal, public liturgy of the Church and should reflect the needs of the community present. And these prayers demand a response, a real viable response. . . and I’m not just talkin, “Lord, here our prayer.” . . . “full, conscious, active participation,” remember that phrase?

I have come to know several people with Bipolar Disorder in recent years, one in particular, that have really helped me to become aware. . .aware of this invisible illness. . . .aware of what is still lacking in our understanding of this illness. . . .aware of how people avoid the subject of this disease. . . . aware of how our recited prayers are sometimes empty. . . .aware of how prayers of action are, at times, well,... nonexistent. . . .and so, I write more on the subject of Bipolar Disorder. This blog entry in particular will touch a little on the medications used to treat those with Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder (sometimes referred to as Manic Depression) is a real treatable illness that affects the brain.  It can’t be overcome by “snapping out of it.” Asking someone with Bipolar Disorder to “think positive” or to “just snap out of it”  is like asking someone with diabetes to change his or her blood sugar level by simply  thinking about it.

Bipolar Disorder is primarily a biological disorder that occurs in a specific area of the brain and is due to the dysfunction of certain neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, in the brain. These chemicals may involve neurotransmitters like Serotonin and Norepinephrine.

Those who suffer with Bipolar Disorder are often prescribed Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). 

SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of the neurotransmitter Serotonin in the brain. Changing the balance of Serotonin seems to help brain cells send and receive chemical messages, which in turn, elevates mood. SSRIs are called “selective” because they target serotonin, not other neurotransmitters (Dopamine, Norepinephrine).

Sometimes, however, an SSNRI may be prescribed. As it sounds, SSNRIs target both Serotonin and Norepinephrine.

One of the things I have learned is that ADHD and Schizophrenia are in the same “family” of diseases.  DRIs, or Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors, are often prescribed for those with ADHD or Schizophrenia.
Benzodiazepines may also be prescribed. Benzodiazepines, also known as anxiolytics,(antipanic or anti-anxiety agent) help to reduce anxiety. They are often used in the acute stage of a mania, a manic episode, to try and calm a person down, and they can be quite helpful.  People with Bipolar Disorder tend to have racing thoughts and the Benzodiazeprines tend to calm this. They also are used quite frequently in depression with comorbid anxiety to work on the anxiety piece of this disorder.  (Comoborid: the presence of one or more disorders in addition to a primary disease or disorder.)

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about Bipolar Disorder.  There are many pieces of the puzzle that must be put together. It is complicated and so misunderstood. There is so-o-o-o much to learn.

When someone learns they have diabetes or high blood pressure or heart disease they learn all the can about their illness. Bipolar Disorder is no different. When someone has diabetes or heart disease they change their lifestyle, eating habits and more to combat their illness. Bipolar Disorder is no different. Those who live with people with diabetes or high blood pressure often change their diets and lifestyles in support of their loved one. Bipolar Disorder is no different.  When someone has diabetes they check themselves and take necessary medication at specific times of the day. Bipolar Disorder is no different. In fact, those with Bipolar who take Lithium must check their blood regularly.

The big difference is the many myths and misunderstanding of what Bipolar Disorder is and what Bipolar Disorder isn’t. I pray that what I write in the upcoming days may help change that a bit. Because, really, those of us who live with Bipolar Disorder could really use your support.

So please, if someone you know has Bipolar Disorder, please please please don’t tell them to just “snap out if.” You would be way, way, way off the mark. And please, don’t tell them to stop taking their medications. You could be causing them a tremendous amount harm. As people of faith, I would think we would have more heart than that. The best thing you can do is get informed. And then, be a friend and be there.

Bipolar Disorder can take years to get diagnosed. And then it can take seemingly forever to find the right medication.

It would be nice to know that you are there along the way, offering your prayers, your support, your presence. Please, be there.

For those with Bipolar Disorder;
We Pray to The Lord.

For a better understanding of the medications
used to treat Bipolar Disorder;
We Pray to The Lord.

For doctors who treat those
with Bipolar Disorder;
We Pray to the Lord.

For family members living with those
who have Bipolar Disorder;
We Pray to the Lord.
* * * * * *

Part 1 - For Those Who are Ill

Part 2 - For A Better Understanding of Bipolar Disorder

* Part 3 - For A Better Understanding Of The Medications Used To Treat Bipolar Disorder

Part 4 - To Get To Know Others With Bipolar Disorder

Part 5 -  For A Better Understanding Of The Different Types Of Bipolar Disorder

Part 6 - That We May Learn To Listen To Those With Bipolar Disorder

Part 7 - What Can I Do To Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder?

Part 8 - To Learn More About Bipolar Disorder

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