My name is Xanthe Wyse. Diagnosed in my 40s with bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder. Clinicians say that I have had PTSD since childhood (sexual abuse trauma) which worsened with another trauma (sexual assault).
I had mostly depressive episodes with bipolar for 20 years – doctors diagnosed me as treatment resistant depression and anxiety. Then it flipped to severe mania episodes in my 40s around the time of the second trauma. There is no confirmed mania before then – can only speculate looking back, that I had some long stretches of hypomania and some mixed episodes triggered by stressful events.
The psychiatrist who did an ACC lump sum disability assessment decided I had 10% whole body impairment (ACC told me they usually assess PTSD between 10-20%). Then the ‘apportioned’ half of it to non-covered bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, life stress events (divorce, separation from son), suggested autism. He told me he has been a psychiatrist for 40 years and there is no evidence that trauma is linked to bipolar disorder.
My psychologist, a trauma expert with over 20 years experience, said that trauma does indeed increase the risk factor for developing bipolar disorder, with more severe presentation. There is a genetic predisposition but like most things, needs environmental factors to present clinically.
I skim read in this video from a review in a journal that is open to the public. Link below. The article is called The Role of Childhood Trauma in Bipolar Disorders (published 13 January 2016). It is a review of multiple studies that show that there is a heightened risk of developing bipolar disorder and a more severe presentation over time (exactly what happened with me). I have been in weekly on-on-one therapy for PTSD for 2 years.
Summary from the journal review article:
INCREASED RISKS AFTER CHILDHOOD TRAUMA (emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect):
– of developing bipolar disorder
– of earlier onset of bipolar disorder
– of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts
– of rapid cycling
– of more severe clinical presentation of bipolar disorder with time
– more depressive episodes
– more anxiety
– decreased ability to cope with life stressors
– substance abuse (alcohol, cannabis misuse and dependency)
– psychotic features
Also affecting working memory, executive functioning, regulation, impulsivity, sleep.
Early intervention can hypothetically avoid developing severe, unalterable, chronic illness.
(Of course, preventing the trauma in the first place, would be the ideal situation).
My semiautobiographical novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice has a unique perspective on trauma and the development of bipolar disorder, based on my experiences.