What is the difference between bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder? Parents want to know!

Julie, how do I know if my child has bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder?
 
I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar two with psychotic features in 1995. This diagnosis was incorrect. I have schizoaffective disorder. Knowing this diagnosis has helped me manage my bipolar disorder and my psychosis successfully. Here is a deep dive into the question…….
 
What is Schizoaffective Disorder?
 
The answer has to do with mania, depression and psychosis.
 
Bipolar disorder is an episodic mood disorder that includes two mood swings: mania and depression. Within those mood swings, we can have a myriad of symptoms including anxiety, psychosis, irritation and anger, restlessness and attention and focus problems just to name a few.
 
Here is a deeper explanation of the above- people with bipolar disorder must have experiences mania or depression in order to have a bipolar diagnosis. A person cannot have bipolar disorder unless they have had a measurable manic episode.
 
All people with bipolar disorder experience their symptoms within either a depressive episode or a manic episode.
 
The episode has a beginning, middle and end. It can last a long time, but a person will come in and out of the episode. It is NOT a lifetime episode. It can be measured.
 
People with bipolar disorder only have anxiety, psychosis, attention and focus problems and irrigation and anger during a manic or depressed episode.
 
Please think about this sentence. It means that people with bipolar disorder are either manic, depressed or STABLE.
 
Our stable periods are called euthymia.
 
We all have them.
 
If a person with bipolar disorder has symptoms that are not mania or depression related, this is considered a separate disorder.
 
For example, if your son is stable over all, but still has panic attacks when going out on a date, this is a separate symptom from his bipolar disorder symptoms. This means he has bipolar disorder and a form of anxiety.
 
If your daughter is not depressed or manic, but consistency can’t add numbers together, read a list or get her homework done on time this is not bipolar disorder. It is a separate issue involving numbers and focus.
 
And finally, schizo affective disorder.
 
If your child, like myself has psychotic symptoms when she is NOT manic or depressed your child has a separate psychotic disorder.
 
Schizo means psychotic
 
Affective means mood (bipolar disorder in our case)
 
Schizoaffective disorder means that your child has full on bipolar one or bipolar two and a separate psychotic disorder.
 
It does NOT mean your child has schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is only one type of psychotic disorder. I for example have a ton of psychosis, but I do not have any symptoms of schizophrenia.
 
People can have bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. If anyone is in this situation, let me know and I will explain the difference between having two diagnose
s and having the combined diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.
 
Please note that high THC marijuana CAN mimic a psychotic disorder. If your child has bipolar and is using marijuana and gets a schizoaffective diagnosis, this has to be revisited once your child stops using pot.
 
Thanks!
 
Julie
 
PS: As all of my clients know, the ONLY way to get clear on all of this is through a symptom list. The Health Cards and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder will help with this process.
 

Bipolar? Feel Better Now. Here’s How:

1. Nothing is as bad as bipolar tells you.

2. Nothing is as hopeless as bipolar disorder tells you.

3. Nothing is as impossible as bipolar tells you.

When I am in a mood swing that is telling me all of the above- You’re in a hole Julie. You can’t get out, Julie. Nothing is going to work, Julie.

I consider the source.

Bipolar disorder thinking is not a reliable source.

I remind myself:

1. I am going to be fine. I always am. Mood swings are terrible things, but my life is not terrible. It never has been and it never will be. Life is simply life. I do not judge my life by my mood swings. Bipolar is an illness. It is not me.

2. I am a hopeful person when well. If I am hopeless about life in general, it is always bipolar disorder talking. If I can remember this, I will simply get on with my day and the mood swing will end.

3. Everything is possible if I stick to what I know I can do. It may be hard. It may take longer than I want and it may be very, very painful during the process, but all is possible.

Bipolar is a liar. It is not a reliable source. What is bipolar disorder telling you today that you need to push to the side?

What can you say out loud to remind yourself that life is life? It is not horrible or perfect. It is in the middle.

Bipolar paints the wrong picture.

I choose the middle path. I choose stability. I do not listen to bipolar disorder.

Join me.

Julie

 

Bipolar? It is Ok to Quit What is Making You Sick

 Bipolar disorder is so easily triggered.  It’s a rough illness that way- even the things we look forward to with great happiness can cause us trouble.
 
Over the years I’ve learned there are just some situations, no matter how succesful or fun they are that I can’t handle.
 
A friend of mine with bipolar once took a math class that was very stressful.  She got quite sick from the class. When I, and a few others suggested she quit the class, she said, “I’m not a quitter, Julie! I have stopped so many things because of bipolar. I just want to finish something!”
 
I said, “There is a big difference between ‘quitting’ from laziness or lack of attention to the topic- and the quitting that comes from taking care of yourself.”
 
She quit the class and was better immediately. The daily stress of the difficult math was too much for her bipolar brain. It wasn’t too much for her intelligence. She is an excellent and committed student. It was simply too much for her illness.
 
I know when to quit now- though it upsets me a lot. I sometimes push it too far, but eventually I do what is needed.
 
Quitting because something is making you sick with bipolar disorder symptoms is admirable, not something to be ashamed of.
 
I have to remind myself of this quite often.
 

Julie

The Bipolar Road to ………..

We are on a journey. Some people get a rather straight path. They live their lives and have the worries and struggles of the every day person. Some of us get a treacherous mountain journey. We never think we can climb that far. The path never lets us know what is coming. We struggle.
 
Each time I make it through yet another dangerous mood swing, I am reminded that people with mental health disorders are stronger than most. We are interesting. We look for new ways to stay alive.
 
We try and try and try unlike any people I have ever met.
 
Look at this road. It reaches the destination!
 
Bravo for us!
 
I am sick today and that is ok. It is part of my illness. My focus is impossible and I am seeing my much loved nurse practitioner today.
 
It is ok to struggle if you have a mental illness. I do very well on most days. I used to struggle most days and only do well on a few days.
 
What a shift. I remain positive. When I could tell that sitting down and working on the project I need to complete was not going to be easy today, I decided to work on a few of my side projects that help others.
 
I am sending out good vibes!
 
My project will be ready for me this afternoon. I will work hard to get well this morning in terms of focus and will reach my goal today!
 
You can too!
 

Julie

Rock Star Suicides: Let’s Stop Talking About “Demons” and Start Talking About Illness

From the Huffington Post….

My latest article in the Huffington Post talks about Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. Here is the opening:

***

As a society, we can recognize the symptoms of artists who are depressed and get them into treatment instead of raising up their tortured art and then wondering why they die.

Rock star suicides are nothing new. I’m reminded of Ian Curtis, Micheal Hutchence, and Curt Cobain. I recently wrote an article about the death of Chris Cornell, and sadly, I now write about the death of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.

Once again, the world has lost a vibrant, young, and seemingly “have it all” kind of man. I want to first share my sadness at the loss of yet another person who simply didn’t need to die, but this time my heart is not breaking. This time I’m getting mad. The frustration is rising and I feel a call to action is in order.

Chester Bennington’s “Demons”

Chester’s bandmates said they understood his “demons” were always a part of him and something that made the group more “human.” I know they are trying to make sense of losing a vibrant, intelligent, talented and very, very successful man. Unfortunately, this way of talking is a major part of the problem. The way we talk about someone who dies from suicide perpetuates the myth that it’s something specific to their identity that killed the person—instead of a well-documented result of an illness called depression.

When a rock star dies from suicide, we are shocked. And the typical, loving but ignorant words come out full force. He battled his demons, and they were eventually too strong for him is something I’ve read more times that I can count.

These demons sure are busy.

Click here to read

by Julie A. Fast, coauthor of Loving Someone With Bipolar

As a society, we can recognize the symptoms of artists who are depressed and get them into treatment instead of raising up their tortured art and then wondering why they die.

Rock star suicides are nothing new. I’m reminded of Ian Curtis, Micheal Hutchence, and Curt Cobain. I recently wrote an article about the death of Chris Cornell, and sadly, I now write about the death of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.

Once again, the world has lost a vibrant, young, and seemingly “have it all” kind of man. I want to first share my sadness at the loss of yet another person who simply didn’t need to die, but this time my heart is not breaking. This time I’m getting mad. The frustration is rising and I feel a call to action is in order.

Chester Bennington’s “Demons”

Chester’s bandmates said they understood his “demons” were always a part of him and something that made the group more “human.” I know they are trying to make sense of losing a vibrant, intelligent, talented and very, very successful man. Unfortunately, this way of talking is a major part of the problem. The way we talk about someone who dies from suicide perpetuates the myth that it’s something specific to their identity that killed the person—instead of a well-documented result of an illness called depression.

When a rock star dies from suicide, we are shocked. And the typical, loving but ignorant words come out full force. He battled his demons, and they were eventually too strong for him is something I’ve read more times that I can count.

These demons sure are busy.

 Click here to read Rock Star Suicides: Let’s Stop Talking About “Demons” and Start Talking About Illness.

Julie

Bipolar, Cannabis and Psychosis: A Class for Parents and Partners

Parent or the partner of a person with bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder? 

Join Julie A. Fast and learn more about the connection between Cannabis and Bipolar Disorder Symptoms.

BIPOLAR DISORDER, CANNABIS and PSYCHOSIS

A Class for Parents and Partners with Julie A. Fast

Date: Sunday, September 10, 2017

Time: 4:00-6:00 PM PST  United States.

This dynamic and timely classes teaches: 1.) How THC and CBD can affect bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder  2) How to calmly talk to an adult child or partner about cannabis use. 3) A harm reduction plan you can start today for life long results. Relationships can be saved.

 

 

Cost: $150 per phone line. 

This is an interactive call. Class size is limited to ten phone lines. 

Click here to register for the class. Choose the workshop tab in the white box to reserve your space. 

ABOUT THE CLASS

Over half of my coaching business now involves a person with bipolar disorder who is having an adverse bipolar disorder reaction to marijuana. All of my bipolar disorder presentations now have a full section on the effects of pot use on people with bipolar disorder. I realized a few years ago that if I wanted to teach families and health care professionals help people with bipolar disorder, I had to come up with a plan to calmly educate the person with this illness about pot and show my clients and audience members how to approach the topic with a plan that works.  This two hour class  includes a lively discussion of marijuana use and how it can interact with bipolar disorder, a system to identify the symptoms of an adverse reaction to pot in someone with bipolar disorder and a full treatment plan to use immediately to help a person with bipolar disorder make informed decisions about marijuana use.

 

MEET THE TEACHER

My name is Julie A. Fast. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two with psychotic features in 1995. If diagnosed today, I would receive a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I’m a four time bestselling author on the topic of bipolar disorder, schizo affective disorder, psychosis, depression and anxiety. I work as a family and partner coach and regularly train health care professionals on bipolar disorder management. I have worked with companies, mental health agencies and treatment facilities around the world to change the way bipolar disorder, psychosis, anxiety and depression are treated and managed. I lived with a partner for ten years who has bipolar disorder one. I’m an original columnist for Bp Magazine for Bipolar, a regular contributor to magazines such as People, USNewsweek, Huffington Post and the Psychology Today blog and have devoted my life to helping people manage mental health disorders successfully.

Julie-at-mike-14

Julie during her former radio show. 2009!

 

I’m excited to share my research and personal experience around the often emotional topic of bipolar disorder and marijuana use.  We can learn the facts, face the challenges of this difficult topic and offer alternatives to those who need help managing their use of the drug.  I have bipolar disorder and fully understand the need to self medicate- to calm down and to escape the mood swings. There is no judgement here. I smoked way too much pot in the 80s to ever judge someone for their choices. I’m committed to finding a reasonable and heart felt way to dealing with this significant and growing problem in the mental health world. Join me and be part of the answer.

 

 

 

 

A question…..

Does your loved one with bipolar disorder exhibit the following symptoms after using marijuana?

• Aggression

• Poor decision making

• Trouble working

• Magical thinking

• Loss of reasoning ability

• Psychosis- especially if the person has never been psychotic before. Paranoia is the most common symptom.

• Irritation, anger and or physical violence

• Personality change (especially a lack of empathy)

• Trouble with the law

• Inexplicable and out of character behavior that you have not seen from bipolar disorder mood swings alone

• An increase in bipolar disorder symptoms, especially dysphoric mania

 

 

bike9-oIT’S PERSONAL

Imagine my surprise when after a serious biking accident in 2012, I tried medical marijuana and as a person with bipolar disorder had the worst psychosis and mania of my life. Even after extensive research and careful planning to prevent bipolar disorder symptoms, I watched my bipolar disorder two symptoms turn into full bipolar disorder one symptoms in the space of a few days. This experience helped me see the situation from both sides and greatly deepened my ability to educate the public on bipolar disorder and marijuana use.  Because of my personal experiences, I understand people with bipolar disorder who want to use marijuana to feel better. I also approach the topic from the perspective of an educator who is dedicated to informing the public in a calm and rational way about the serious symptoms that can show up when a person with bipolar disorder uses marijuana- even with the best intentions.

 

Have you heard any of the following statements from a loved one or client when you try to talk about bipolar disorder and pot use? 

I use pot to calm down. It helps my anxiety and you need to get off my f’ing back!

It’s proven that marijuana helps people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms. It’s better than taking some drug from big pharma. 

I can do what I want. Why would they legalize it in so many states if it’s as dangerous as you say it is? 

You smoked pot! Now you’re telling me I can’t! You’re a hypocrite. 

There is no research on what you’re saying. The problem is far more serious with drinking that pot! 

I need help, but I can’t stop smoking. It’s like there is a hold on me and I have to have it in order to function. 

This group coaching call will give you the exact words to use when you hear the above statements. You will learn to have a two sided conversation about marijuana and bipolar disorder instead of participating in a one sided argument you know you will never win. I’ve shared my educational and harm reduction method with hundreds of clients who shared the above comments with me- it works.

 

OUR LESSON PLAN

PART 1: A stroll through the history of marijuana use and how the substance has changed in the past ten or so years. This section includes a thorough explanation of the different elements of marijuana and how they can affect the brain of people with bipolar disorder. You will learn how to have an educated and non emotional conversation about the topic. Medical marijuana use will be discussed with an emphasis on the roles of THC and cannabinoids. This is covered from a personal and professional perspective through my work with clients and health care professionals and my own medical marijuana experience.

PART 2:  A comprehensive explanation of the symptoms that can arise from an adverse reaction to marijuana including the specific signs of pot induced psychosis and mania. You will leave the class knowing exactly how to distinguish between symptoms caused by the illness vs. symptoms created by marijuana use.

PART 3:  You will learn my extensively tested and proven harm reduction plan yourself and then learn the exact words needed to share the information with someone who is showing signs of marijuana induced bipolar disorder symptoms with an emphasis on the specific signs of THC induced psychosis.

My goal is to teach you how to talk about this topic effectively and non emotionally. Appealing to and encouraging  someone whom you feel is having trouble to stop using pot for health reasons rarely works. If you’re a health care professional, even one trained in substance abuse and rehab, you know how hard it is to talk with someone who is having bipolar disorder symptoms and using pot to feel better. Instead, you can explore why the person is using the drug- their philosophy behind marijuana use and come up with a way to talk about this topic dispassionately and positively.   This is an educational and functional course. You will learn why so many people with bipolar disorder are having adverse reactions to today’s marijuana (as compared to just a decade ago) and how you can help a person with bipolar disorder understand why the drug is increasing symptoms and what can be done to help them choose a better way to mange mood swings. Yes, many people use weed to feel better and get caught by the strength of today’s marijuana.  This is why education on how marijuana can affect the bipolar disorder brain is essential.

I hope you will join me and help educate the world on this important topic. 

 

WHAT PARTICIPANTS ARE SAYING

Julie Fast’s passion, along with her very substantial in-depth ongoing research into the topic is what it will take to impact the mental health dilemma in our nation today. My husband and I were totally at a loss as to how to help our adult bipolar/ weed addicted son; following her advice allowed us to break through all of the muddled confusion and anguish.  Julie showed us how to communicate more clearly with our son, and also how to navigate within the often disappointing realm of mental health providers. I have utmost respect for the groundbreaking work that she is doing. My son would not be on the road to recovery today had it not been for Julie’s unselfish and passionate coaching.  Her insight in to the mind and struggles of a bipolar loved one is invaluable.

Melissa V.

Julie, you helped us get our daughter off of high THC pot and into treatment for her mental health symptoms. She believed we were poisoning her food and that dabbing was her medicine. We thought she would get harmed as she often left our house at night to be with fellow pot enthusiasts. You taught us not to ‘demonize weed,’ but to educated our beautiful girl on how her choices affected her brain health.  She still wants to talk about marijuana and how it can help her. We emphasize that it’s her choice and that certain behaviors around pot have consequences. We stopped lecturing and started educating.  It saved our family. 

Gerald M.

Let’s changes lives for the better- together.

Julie 

Click here to register for the class. Choose the workshop tab in the white box to reserve your space. 

 

 

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