Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue – Part 3 of 3

There are many conditions that lead to bipolar diagnosis. Adrenal dysfunction is just one possibility as discussed here in response to a member of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition.

Thank you for your useful contribution to my comparison of adrenal dysfunction with bipolar diagnosis.

Poor diet is one of the main causes of mood disorder, so the link to the Institute of Optimum Nutrition is going to help a lot of readers. The nutrients mentioned are all important and as you know there is a lot more about our diets that need to be taken into account. Moving on from a bipolar diagnosis will involve dietary improvements as part of a recovery plan.

In saying adrenal fatigue is mistakenly being diagnosed as a psychiatric disorder I was very much thinking all forms of bipolar other than the old manic depression diagnosis that involves people getting extremely busy, having grandiose plans and as you say, “have enough energy to rush around.” This state is described as mania and may also involve noticeable loss of touch with reality, with delusions and/or hallucinations.

In the more modern forms of bipolar, which are now by far the more common diagnosis, there is a much closer match with adrenal fatigue. With the Bipolar 2 diagnosis the patient has long periods of low energy and negative feelings, with short-lived periods of having a little more energy often not even noticed by friends and relatives. With another form of bipolar called cyclothymia the periods of low mood are not usually disabling but just keep on happening, and again without any extreme highs.

What I have noticed is that like me, people may initially see a doctor when having plenty of energy and asking for help, but after several years of involvement with psychiatry the high energy periods become shorter and less extreme until the pattern of moods looks more like on-going fatigue.

I am sure we are agreed that Adrenal Fatigue is best not described as a psychiatric disorder. I am hoping is that my articles will remind doctors that there are many reasons for apparent mood disorders. The other imbalances you mention (hormones, nutrients, food intolerances, blood sugar) do cause imbalanced moods and do need to be addressed first along with external stressors.

Most people who start off appearing to ‘be bipolar’ eventually end up fatigued and coping with exhaustion becomes our biggest daily challenge. (As discussed elsewhere sedative psychiatric drugs can cause more fatigue.)

Too often a bipolar diagnosis is given without looking for other possible causes. Adrenal Fatigue is just one of these possibilities and there are many more that I wish could be checked out before psychiatric labels are considered.


About Roger Smith (in the UK)
Helping you to think about bipolar disorder in different ways so that we can eliminate the disorder and eventually eliminate the need for this diagnosis.

2 Responses to Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue – Part 3 of 3

  1. Ruth Redd says:

    Very thought provoking as always. I re-read your last blog and,although I don’t think I will have the adrenal test I am well aware of the truth in what you say.

    I am still on the intolorance eating plan and know that is why I am feeling well and have energy. However, it has taken time. A dear friend died back in August and I can honestly say it is only in the last ten days that I have been feeling ‘ my old self ‘ again. My exercise class is now a breeze and walking Lacey is a joy instead of the challenge it has been for the last three months.

    The light at the end of the tunnel has arrived at last and I am making the most of the wonderful sunny days. I know winter is coming though so I have topped up on warm woollies and I’m ready for what life will, indoubtedly throw at me!!


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