This site caters specifically to bipolar audiences and so the discussion of anxiety disorders and panic attacks will take a purely slanted stance towards bipolar interests concerning these subjects. While this section will touch briefly on descriptions and some discussion of anxiety disorders, the information provided will not be an extensive study of disorders but primarily focusing on bipolar disorder itself.
As bipolar sufferers, many people find themselves not only struggling with the exhaustive battle of maintaining mental/emotional stability, but they also sadly discover their fragile psychological existence is further compromised by the crippling grip of anxiety. Tragically, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder can marry together to create a truly painful and difficult predicament for a bipolar sufferer. To tell the honest truth, I am not sure whether bipolar disorder in itself is the sole contributor to a sufferer’s heightened sensitization to anxiety, or if the disorder is actually divorced from the symptoms and instead partnered with an anxiety disorder that is actually the root cause of these disturbing sensations. There is a similar biological dysfunction of the brain that has been singled out for one of the possible causes of anxiety disorders, not unlike the one known to be responsible for bipolar disorder, an imbalance in the afflicted sufferer’s brain chemistry. The two forms of disorders are treated with SSRI (Anti-depressant) medications that seem to target similar chemicals in the brain. So, it is logical that one could quite possibly coexist with the other, or, that bipolar disorder has similar symptoms in common with anxiety disorders that can present in a sufferer, but the two do not exist partnered with one another. I am at present unsure as to what form of relationship bipolar disorder has to anxiety disorders.
Whatever the case may be, the end result is stultifying and overwhelming sensations of fear and anxiety that cause the sufferer intense discomfort resulting in his/her dependence on an ever increasing need for avoidance/coping measures that further alienate him/her from the world around him/her. This further complicates his/her personal growth and mental health progress in relation to his/her therapy. It can cripple the sufferer psychologically to the point that he/she is unable to think or reason through life situations with any sound logic or understanding as to what is happening to him/her. A person can literally become trapped in its iron grip rendering him/her unable to discover how to set him/herself free. The anxiety can grow ever more daunting the more unstable a sufferer may become.
In my personal experience, most of the bipolar sufferers I have had personal contact with in hospital and outside of psychiatric institutions have commiserated with me on the subject of chronic anxiety problems. These sufferers have come to the resignation that anxiety is as much a part of their disorder as depression or mania. It seems to plague a bipolar sufferer during both phases of the disorder, both mania and depression, without prejudice. These fellow bipolar sufferers have all described an assortment of anxiety conditions, some could be straight out of a text book definition of a specific anxiety disorders, yet some are a combination, and some are just that sufferer’s special cocktail of psychological goodies all mixed into one. I myself could lay claim to experiencing symptoms of several anxiety disorders during periods of my illness, such as; Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Now, whether I truly have these conditions or am just bipolar I do not know. I do know that after reading about these disorders for this section I discovered they described my symptoms and dilemmas quite accurately when I do experience chronic anxiety. At present I have found that most of my more apparent symptoms of anxiety seem to have been suppressed by the medications I am taking for my bipolar disorder (One or two of these medications are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders as well). I do, however, still suffer a deep seated anxiety in my soul that aches with a constant angst, never ceasing, always reminding me of its presence.
Let me explain some of the anxiety disorders for you: