Did You Know? Random Facts About Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Thought you had put in your time, and knew all there was to know about depression and/or bipolar disorder? Think again; there are some truly unusual–and even bizarre–facts you might have missed.


That depression is experienced as anxiety 65 percent of the time?

That a study at the University of Texas found cognitive psychotherapy as effective as MAO inhibitors for major depressive disorder? (Jarrett 1999)

That there is significant disagreement in the medical community about the use of antidepressants for bipolar depression?

That the word ‘hippocampus‘ comes from the Greek, meaning ‘horse sea monster?’ Early scientists thought the hippocampus looked like a seahorse.

That it is estimated that nearly 50% of bipolar sufferers have comorbid addiction to drugs or alcohol?

That, statistically, bipolar sufferers have more heart problems than the rest of the population? They also have more headaches, particularly migraines.

That lithium makes concrete harden faster and can power small batteries?

That bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world (WHO)?

That a 5 mg dose of Zyprexa causes an average weight gain of roughly 15 lbs after one year? (That’s according to a study by Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D. from Emory University School of Medicine.)

That, when bipolar is mis-diagnosed, women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and men with schizophrenia?

That, according to the NIMH, the median age of onset for bipolar is 25 years of age?

That SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft decrease the effects of LSD, while trycyclic antidepressants like Tofranil or Norpramine increase LSD effects? (Put that one in your pipe and smoke it.)

That only 1 in 4 bipolar sufferers receives an accurate diagnosis in less than 3 years?

That all of the following people were thought to now have or to have suffered from bipolar disorder in their lives: Agatha Christie, Drew Carey, Edgar Allen Poe, Isaac Newton, Jim Carey, Larry Flynt, and Winston Churchill?

That from 1993 to 2004, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children increased by 40 fold (Morena et al, 2007)?

That bananas have tryptophan, an amino acid that can convert to serotonin?

That Eli Lilly, makers of exponentially profitable Prozac and Zyprexa, had all of the following people on their payroll at one time or other: Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, Former CEO of Enron, Ken Lay, George W. Bush’s former director of Management and Budget, Mitch Daniels, and George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Advisory Council member, Sidney Taurel?

That a 2008 study by researchers at Brown University School of Medicine found that of 145 adults who said they had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, 82 (57 percent) turned out not to have the condition, under further examination? [Booby prizes included major depression, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety and social phobia.]

That the mood stabilizer Topomax is used off-label for sleep-related eating disorder (SRED)?

That one in ten Americans currently takes an antidepressant?

That the element lithium is toxic to humans?

That, according to NIMH, the atypical antipsychotic risperidone is a more effective treatment for children suffering manic episodes than the standard mood stabilizers? [Of course it still carries the threat of metabolic side effects.]

That blocking blue spectrum lights (fluorescent, incandescent and LED) is supposed to help reset circadian rhythms in the bipolar person?

That success rates of 80-90% were once the norm for lithium in treatment of acute mania while response rates of only 40-50% are now common (Frances et al., 1996)?

That some anti-seizure medications, often used in treating bipolar disorder (e.g. tegretol, depakote, trileptal, topomax) cause the liver to metabolize the estrogen in birth control pills more quickly, causing oral contraception to be less effective–or lose its efficacy completely?

That, according to Dr. Chris Lowry, a brain scientist at Bristol University in England, mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found in dirt, increases levels of seratonin in the brain, much as the SSRI’s do?

Maybe if we had only listened to our parents when they lost their patience and told us to go out and play in the dirt we would have been a generation that never needed Prozac.

Now we know.


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