Does Bipolar Disorder Exist?

The popular and worthwhile blog Furious Seasons, written by a guy diagnosed with bipolar disorder, asks the following: Does bipolar disorder exist? Here’s an excerpt, a quote from psychiatrist Paul Minot, from a thought-provoking post well worth reading in its entirety:

Bipolar disorder isn’t actually a disease.

It’s a collection of signs and symptoms lumped together in a diagnostic classification that has no basis or assumption of causation. There is no known neurochemical abnormality associated with “bipolar disorder”, and patients with this diagnosis certainly have a plethora of different problems, all lumped together in one convenient/dumb diagnostic classification.

The expansion of the definition of bipolar disorder over the past two decades is simply a “rebranding” of post-traumatic stress disorder, impulse control disorders, personality disorders, and other problems into a pseudoscientific trashcan diagnosis, to provide an FDA-approved “indication” for the prescription and marketing of anticonvulsants and other medications to treat this “illness”. I know this because I myself am a psychiatrist, actively treating bipolar disorder and prescribing these medications. I think prescribing these medications is reasonably safe and often helpful, but trumping up fictitious diagnoses and deluding people into thinking that they have a lifelong illness without a firm grounding in scientific fact is ridiculous, and unethical. Your own experience isn’t miraculous, it just verifies that much of contemporary psychiatric diagnosis is a bunch of malarkey.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

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9 thoughts on “Does Bipolar Disorder Exist?

  1. Thank you! I was diagnosed as a teenager 6 separate times with bipolar 1 & 2 (not simultaneously), and went through a whirlwind of problems between the medications and the counselors/psychiatrists telling me that I had a “disease” (like that wouldn’t give a 14 year old manic episodes).

    My journey with counseling began when I was 4, my father passed away due to a traumatic accident, and was never prescribed with anything up until the plethora of BS mainstream BI polar drugs/uptake inhibitors went onto the market. Long story short; I almost commited suicide because the drugs made me severely depressed. It is an epidemic in my opinion.

    It’s nice to hear that more people have a similar opinion on the subject. I feel bad for all of those poor children out there who are being prayed upon. Especially since a lot of these drugs have unknown long term side effects.

  2. What I find ridiculous is that drug companies are allowed to market drugs whilst saying that this is a medical and physiological disease caused by “chemical imbalances”. Says who? Where are the studies that back this up? The blood tests? The MRI’s? Moreover, what chemicals are you even talking about?

    When you look at real, biochemical illnesses that affect mood and behavior, you see that they ALWAYS affect not only one particular area of functioning (such as energy, mood, or behavior), but rather span through almost every level of cognition. Schizophrenia, for example, causes disorders in mood, thought, language, speech, psychomotor behavior and perception. It is a true illness likely caused by a genetic malformation of the brain. Parkinson’s Disease is similar: a lack of dopamine which cause motor neutron degradation and, very frequently, profound depression. But people diagnosed with so-called bipolar disorder usually do not have any impairment in their cognitive abilities or psychomotor behavior. More often than not they are labile Borderline Personalities who would respond positively to therapy, or even victims of trauma and abuse (which may accompany Borderline Personalties) who need to address these issued and be successfully treated. To dope them up on powerful antipsychotics and anticonvulsants is simply bad medicine.

  3. Theories of bipolar have existed for a few thousand years and face new assessment all the time….. So i don’t think it has much to do with drug companies pushing on doctors, or with hamburgers. I don’t think Plato ever ate a hamburger.

  4. As a PhD candidate in chemistry, I have access to the newest and latest research on bipolar disorder and not only have they identified several genes containing polymorphisms in bipolar patients but they have found structural abnormalities in the brains of bipolar patients following autopsy. People who say it isn’t a real disease are either pseudoscientists or have not thoroughly explored the literature.

  5. Emma Ma, Plato probably wasn’t bipolar, nor was Ophelia, if that’s what you’re talking about for “thousands of years”.

    Of course you’d say that, NeuroRu, you are indoctrinated into this. Patients previously diagnosed with bipolar are nine times out of ten diagnosed under age 18, which is ridiculous – we cannot have a diagnosis of psychopathy considered valid until after age 18, why diagnose someone with something that can be even more of a stigma until their brain has more fully developed? I can tell you a great deal of the people that I have interacted with who have bipolar disorder/manic depression have a ridiculous variety of symptoms. Many of them get their diagnosis “reversed” to something like severe depression and a comorbid condition such as OCD or a form of psychosis.

  6. Well, let me go on the record: Bipolar Disorder exists. I think what might have been more apparent in the context of what I was posting about bipolar in 2008 (which gets lost when posts are accessed through a search engine) is the concern about diagnostic inflation — in other words, many things that would not have been diagnosed as Bipolar are now being brought under that diagnostic umbrella. There are real valid concerns about the overdiagnosis of childhood bipolar disorder, and of the validity and extension of the so-called Bipolar II diagnosis. A complicated series of questions. But the classic Manic Depression or Bipolar I, is almost certainly one of the 6 original diagnoses that was around at the beginning of psychiatry.

  7. MMmmmm hmmm. I have a genetic malformity causing chemical imbalences in my brain that only big pharma can cure. Isnt that convinient.

    • I’m curious about this: is humanity as a whole mentally flawed, or are there mere differences in people’s ability to handle trauma? I for one would not take a doctor’s word that I’m sick, when it is in that doctor’s interest to treat me, unless there were other factors weighing in the diagnosis, like real physical symptoms. Psychiatry is usurping philosophical competence in describing my consciousness in terms of chemical responses. I do get a say in how I choose to respond to life, and humans have got by without drugs for a long time till today. The only thing that has changed is that today these drugs are not only available, but automatically prescribed.

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