March 2nd, 2011
12:24 PM ET

Sheen has us asking: What's bipolar?

Over the last couple days, I have found it interesting how many people have watched the antics and interviews with Charlie Sheen, and immediately diagnosed him as either being on drugs or in the middle of a manic episode. Could be – but who knows, maybe it is all a big ruse. His erratic behavior is not in question, but arriving at a diagnosis based on a TV interview is impossible. In fact, my colleagues in the psychiatry community say it can be challenging even after completing a full assessment.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by the occurrence of at least one manic episode during the patient’s lifetime. Most patients also, at other times, have one or more
depressive episodes. In the intervals between these episodes, most patients return to their normal state of well-being. This is according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). When looking for evidence of mania, doctors often cite symptoms like being overly euphoric, agitated behavior, racing speech and impulsive behavior to name a few. Just reading that gives you an idea of why arriving conclusively at a diagnosis can sometimes be so difficult.

That is why I was so interested in a paper I recently read. Scientists at UCLA took on the goal of peering deep into someone’s brain, while the person was in the middle of a manic episode, to better understand what was happening. Now, as you might imagine, getting someone who is manic to agree to sit still in a functional MRI scanner wasn’t easy, but eventually the researchers recruited 18 patients into the study, nine of whom met the criteria for a manic episode, and nine other patients, who were healthy and served as controls.

What they found was fascinating. When given certain tasks to perform, the manic patients had a decrease in activity in part of the frontal lobe. Think about that - the frontal lobes are sort of your behavioral filter, and the activity there was much lower than in a healthy person. It is the part of the brain that makes you think before you speak or evaluate before you act. If there is low activity, those filters are turned way down, and you may start to see the impulsive, racing behavior associated with a manic episode. Those same patients also had higher than normal activity in the amygdala, which is associated with emotion.

When you look at these brain scans, consider this - you are seeing evidence of what a manic episode really looks like. And, in another study with depressed patients, the findings were very nearly the opposite. The filters were turned way up and the frontal lobe area shined brightly, whereas the emotional part of the brain had lower activity.

For now, patients with true mental illness can get outstanding diagnosis and treatment. This is a glimpse, though, of where the mental health field may be headed. Could we be approaching a day when a person with concerns about mental illness could get a special scan to find out? And, might that information also answer the question about the best treatment options as well? What do you think the pros and cons are, if scans like this became available?

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  1. Mr. B

    My concern is mainly with psychiatrist conducting these studies on patients that are actively (and usually over a long period) taking psychotropic medications. In previous studies to identify differences in schitzophrenia patients, depressed patients, etc....the difference has been entirely related to the psychotropic medications. However, despite this fact, psychiatrists continue to conduct research without including individuals diagnosed with these disorders that have not been taking psychotropic medications. When is the community going to admit, and respond to the resounding evidence that psychotropic medications CAUSE significant abnormal alterations to the brain. Until they begin including the unmedicated in the research, we will continue to get results that are inaccurate and only serve to fuel the fraud that is psychiatry. Stop destroying the brain before you scan it for problems.

    March 2, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob InCal

      They did use nine other patients (unmedicated), who were healthy and served as controls.

      March 2, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • Jimmer1

      In reply to Mr. B,
      "When is the community going to admit, and respond to the resounding evidence that psychotropic medications CAUSE significant abnormal alterations to the brain?" The community is VERY aware of this fact. It is mentioned in pretty much EVERY research paper and is discussed at every conference that addresses this issue. If these meds did not cause alterations in the brain they wouldn' t be very useful as treatments for neuroligical disorders. The community is still trying very hard to isolate excatly what is it about one med that works for some individuals and not for others and why side effect may occur...the brain is an exceptionally complicated organ and the meds are, unfortunately not perfect. They are however the best we have right now and do help a significant number of people continue to live normal lives after diagnosis.

      "However, despite this fact, psychiatrists continue to conduct research without including individuals diagnosed with these disorders that have not been taking psychotropic medications"
      Consider for one moment the ethics of this. Were you to be diagnosed with one of these disorders would you be ok with having your meds withheld for months so that a group of scientists could run a bunch of experiments on you? How long would you be prepared to wait? Surely the top priority for your physician should be to give you the best help they can as soon as they can. Scientists do their very best to include groups who have not been pre-treated but such people are very hard to find and are like gold-dust in this field of research. This is one of those unfortunate scenarios that falls under the "easier said than done" umbrella.

      March 2, 2011 at 13:31 | Report abuse |
    • jendfly

      I'm sorry. I missed the part that said the patients were currently being medicated. As a bipolar person, I can tell you that taking the meds does make a big difference. Since the first time since I was 12 years old (I'm 51) I feel "normal." I recently cut back on the bpd med and am once again manic. If you don't suffer from the problem, quit acting like an expert.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • Lise Quinn

      The article did not say that the patients with the manic episodes were being treated with medication.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • Why won't this post!

      Ha! Lise Quin.. it didn't say they were not either. And also it would contaminate the results if they'd ever been on psych drugs long term in the past, or even been long term illicit drug abusers.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Excuse me, but for the first time (recently on Risperidone) I have been taking medication for my cyclothymia/bipolar disorder (since I've had from childhood) and like jendfly, I for the first time feel what it's like to be "normal". I'm so happy that I have self-confidence again. I wouldn't stop taking it if you offered me thousands of dollars a month. My father was a Schizophrenic, and you didn't need a scan to see it. Everyone around me knew something was wrong with me, but I ignored it. I kept telling myself that I can beat it with my mind. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't control myself. My family doctor gave me a script for anti-anxiety meds, but those didn't really work. So I went back to her and she sent me to a psychiatrist who was able to give me the right medication for the first time. She didn't just use a pen and paper to jot notes down. I had to take a 200 question test along with hours and hours of face-to-face time with her. She didn't try to over-medicate me or anything like that. She prescribed as little mg as possible and brought it up just slightly until i was at a comfortable level. Even the best machinery can miss the most obvious problems. My jaw was broken once. The X-ray showed that I didn't have a broken jaw, but if you just looked at my face, you could see one side hanging. They don't go to school for years and years just to send you through a machine. Sometimes it's just plain obvious. Anyway, thank you for reading.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • brt

      I've been on those medications before and I've seen a lot of people trying to adjust to them and get on them...the bottom line is that more often than not they make things worse because they are a random shot in the dark. With me, after 25 years I found out I had Celiac Disease and my chemical imbalance was from an inability to absorb nutrients. But rather than check the simplest explanations first, doctors are far more eager to have test subjects for drugs that you often see in class action lawsuit commercials.

      In the end, most psychiatrists try to convince people they know what they're talking about and know how to fix it when they're really just taking shots in the dark at the patient's expense. Most MAOI modifiers permanently alter your brain chemistry and they are the most physically damaging drugs out there.

      Chances are, it is almost always something disrupting your physical health causing mental health to deteriorate. but there wouldn't be as much money going into psychiatry if doctors were to admit that.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • SpecialPlace

      I can see we have some uneducated folks in the arena...which is a good thing, I suppose.
      I am a Type I Rapid-Cycling Manic-Depressive. This means that, for a long time (I'm 26 now, but wasn't medicated until 22...So, about 10 years I dealt with Manic-Depression) I could literally cycle from Mania to Depression in a matter of minutes. I am very familiar with Manic-Depression...My mother, my maternal grandmother, two of my uncles, my sister and a couple of other family members are also Manic-Depressive (talk about genetic factors...).
      I can tell you that Manias would NOT occur in Manic-Depressives who are properly medicated. It's as simple as that. So, by assumption, I can say that these patients were either NOT medicated or not medicated properly. My assumption would be that they were not medicated at all (except by probably illicit means), because a good researcher would acknowledge the fact that improperly-working medications would in fact alter the results to a significant degree. Scientists tend to not be idiots. So, my guess is that they were looking for unmedicated Manic-Depressives.
      And, also, they probably did not ask medicated Manic-Depressives to stop taking their medication. That would have more serious consequences than if the Manic-Depressive had always been unmedicated. Mind you, Manic-Depressives are the hardest people in general to a) admit they have no control, b) admit they need medication, and c) take the medication. Every Manic-Depressive who is currently medicated no doubt has struggled intensely with whether or not to take medication. I know I did for many years (and my mother for MANY more). It's not exactly looking for gold to find a Manic-Depressive who isn't currently taking medication or who never has.
      So, my conclusion would have to be that....No, the patients were not medicated through the experiment.....and Yes, the scientists knew what they were doing by not asking someone to stop taking their medication.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • lzman

      SpecialPlace: Finding meds that work , the correct dosage, for some people IS a shot in the dark. My sister is Bi-polar, has been medicated for over 20 years. Just because one is medicated does NOT mean you will not cycle again. You can be doing great for a year at a time and for whatever reason, hormones, the moon, food, you can have another episode even when your medicine is apparently "working. " The point is, there is no easy fix for all people. It is great that you are doing well. I hope it stays that way for you. But for some, meds are not the only answer

      March 2, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      DSM – trick the boxes and out comes a diagnosis. It is a good point that most people with some mental illness have been on a roller coast ride of medications. How can any objective conclusions be drawn from looking at a medicated brain? Sure look at 9 brains not on medication but they are also not psychiatrically ill so that is pointless. The biochemical model of the brain and mental illness is a useful tool but only part of the story. It will only ever provide a partial picture. But it is big business and it is proven on the altar of science so we are stuck with it until a new dogma arrives.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      The other alternative would be to not medicate and let them suffer out through what might possiby be brief existences. I, personally, am a person who suffers from bipolar disorder. I was lucky enough to take myself into the hospital to seek help during the worst of it all. While there, I was medicated. After I left, I went off the meds after two months and tried again at a later date. I was fortunate enough that the medication helped me gain perspective and allowed me the time to learn how to develop coping skills and recognize episodes as they occur.

      However, as a writer and an artist... I cannot, absolutely cannot, take medication. The times I have made a decision to try them once more... I lose virtually all creative drive. Normalcy, to me, is a curse. I'm lucky enough that I'm not rapid cycling, and my depression is manageable with a good set of coping skills and a support system. If I had to go on meds again... I'd be in hell. If you're not an artist or a writer, or a creative person, you cannot understand the absolute horror that hits you when you find yourself utterly unable to create -anything- and that your drive to do so virtually vanishes. You might reach for creativity, but it eludes you. Its like being struck deaf and blind.

      That being said.. I would love to see the results if they managed to find unmedicated patients. That would, in my opinion, be a true gauge of brain activity. This is a very interesting biological perspective... but as far as being able to scan for any mental disorder... that would be impossible. It gels well for biological psychologists and obviously psychiatrists, but for other psychologists... they would probably chuckle at the idea that everything wrong with a mental process can be scanned by a machine and quantified. You'd absolutely have freudians in a tizzy.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
    • Hi

      Well I don't recall the article mentioning that anyone of the individuals scanned were medicated or unmedicated. For the individual that responded that the controls were unmedicated, technically they would not be controls unless all mitigating factors are equivalent. Therefore, either all test subjects were medicated or all test subjects were not medicated. Otherwise, the results would not reflect the mental activity created by the mental illness. I inferred from the article that all test subjects were not medicated because if someone who is manic were under medication then the article would not have described the difficulty trying to get manic subjects submit to the scan.

      However, I agree with you that psychiatry has become to heavily dependent on psychotropics.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
    • Miles

      My wife is bipolar and I have heavily researched it. When on meds, she does not experience manic episodes. Many bipolar patients refuse to take meds. If they were testing patients who were having manic episodes, as stated, those patients could not have been on meds. And for those who think meds are bad, I admit they have side effects on my wife but she is not ready to jump off a building or eat a gun like she was before the meds so I am greatful to what they have done for us.

      March 2, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • Unmedicated

      For those of you bi-polar folks posting on here in defense of these high-risk meds: not all bi-polars were created equal. I've 'suffered' with this 'disease' for my entire life. Well, I suffered until I woke up. If you wake up, you'll know what I mean.
      I was far more erratic and up higher than ever and had the lowest of my lows when I was ON MEDS. Changed them, added them ate them believed in them and felt worse off for it.
      Since being off every single prescription or over the counter man made drug, my life has been MUCH smoother. I've not spent a week in bed without showering due to depression since. I've not run off and gotten a tattoo while feverish from flu due to mania since. So please speak for yourself, because in reality, that is ALL you really know.

      March 2, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • Gluten lover


      What the heck? This article is not about Celiac's "Disease." I have a co-worker who claims to have Celiac's, too, and you know what? She eats gluten ALL THE FREAKING TIME!! It's not even close to being the same thing as bipolar. You know why? Because to treat celiac's, YOU JUST DON'T EAT GLUTEN!!

      She, like you, also blames her insane behavior on previously taken medication, but I think she's just mentally ill. She actually has the symptoms of histrionic personality disorder.

      March 2, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Nice try Mr. Scientologist. Everyone, this is a Scientologist troll, looking to get everyone stirred up. Move along, nothing interesting to see here.

      Hahaha, so amusing that your stories are so similar between posts and between even people. I once thought it may be hard to weed you guys out. Hahahahah

      March 2, 2011 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
    • Atana

      Right on Mr. B, and let me say I am NOT a Scientologist – I think they are a freaky cult. @ brt, I had the exact same experience. Off gluten I have no mood swings and much better cognitive function. Folks, please research these drugs before you go on them and check out the psychiatric survivor community. Some of these so called psychiatric drugs can CAUSE the symptoms they claim to treat and have withdrawl symptoms that big pharma wants to cover up.

      March 2, 2011 at 20:47 | Report abuse |
    • John

      Psychiatry is a joke. I went in for mild anxiety and all the drugs caused me depression and ruined 3 years of my life. once i took the pills i was admitted to numerous psychiatric wards and almost killed myself numerous times. This was not me and never would have been had i never went to a psychiatrist at 14. All i needed was a little talk therapy. Ever since the first med my life was ruined. Before I knew it I was on 20 different drugs. They don't tell you how to get off em. I had to cold turkey numerous times, almost failed out of high school and destroyed my college career. one year later I still don't feel like myself and get awful muscle cramps around my mouth and face that make me contemplate putting a bullet in my head all the time, which in itself has caused depression where there wouldn't be had I never took those pills.

      March 2, 2011 at 21:42 | Report abuse |
    • Cathy

      There is hope but we need to be educated. The following article found in medicalnewstoday.com on May 13 2007 First Genome-Wide Study Of Bipolar Disorder Reveals Its Genetic Roots, gives some insight into hope for help in the future. The bipolar condition is highly emotional and thus extremely volatile and elusive. Only the person experiencing the condition can possibly know the reality of living it. The problem is being able to recognize and manage this misunderstood condition

      March 2, 2011 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
    • psychology student

      ummm. You clearly no very little about psychological research. Many studies ONLY include patients who are unmedicated. Also, no where in the article does it say the patients were medicated. In fact, I am willing to bet that since they were in a manic episode and most bipolar medications stop manic episodes (often very effectively), they were not in fact on any medication a the time. In fact, my concern about the study is the ethics of study people who are obviously out of their mind and cannot give informed consent.

      I will read the study at let you know.

      March 3, 2011 at 00:48 | Report abuse |
    • psychology student

      I read the study. The healthy controls were not on any psychotropic medication. The manic group was a mix of unmedicated and medicated individuals. The medicated individuals were mostly on one medication to treat their mania, but that medication varied. So, although you have an interesting theory it's not supported by evidence; the fMRI scans showed similar results regardless of the medication status.

      March 3, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
    • Margot707

      You can't be on meds to experience a manic (or depressive) episode. Very often a diagnosis of BPD cannot be confirmed until the person actually responds to the typical medications.

      March 3, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
    • MN man

      The patient his or herself is the last person to judge whether they are "normal", but with privacy laws the way they are, a psychiatrist can turn a patient into their personal science experiment in the privacy of their office, a science experiment that ripples very negatively into the lives of those around the patient. I know because I have been living with someone who has been on a constantly varying med program, different doses and different meds, with nothing but a series of different mental health irregularities to show for it. The biggest problem is–psychiatrists have absolutely NO accountability to anyone. If a drug makes the patient feel "good" then they tell the psychiatrist that the med is working–even if their behavior is obviously abnormal to those around them. In some cases, the psychiatrist relies solely on the patients own input rather than that of those around them–this means the psychiatrist can live in ignorant bliss of the true effects of the psychotropic meds. As far as I am concerned the axiom is true–psychiatry is a disease posing as a cure.

      March 3, 2011 at 04:59 | Report abuse |
  2. Brad

    I think it is a good idea, but I think more important is what causes the brain to act that way. The brain wires itself, in part, based on it's environment. Could it be that all the little rules of society caused by religion, groupies, whats considred the norm, whats considered right and wrong, is the real problem. Could all this pressure to act a certain way so you are "normal" be the real cause of so many mental issues? Dispite what you believe, humans are still animals, we, just like animals, have instincts, desires and chemical processes. Unlike animals, humans have decided to go against there very own nature via norms and religion, and I think that is what is destroying people.

    March 2, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • medstudent

      while I agree, religion is a bit ridiculous and some social norms are pretty constraining, the evidence points to dopamine, norepinepherine, and serotonin dysfunction, and not a societal problem.

      No matter what culture you grew up in, or where you were born, or what your family and upbringing was like, whether you are atheist or religious, if you have prefrontal cortex or frontal lobe inhibition, you will have impulsive behavior. If you have a genetic makeup predisposing you to serotonin, norepinepherine, or (especially) dopamine over/undersensitivity or over/underproduction, you will have a psychological disease

      that is where the newest evidence is pointing to, and the evidence is strong. The use of fMRI as well as the ability to isolate genetic polymorphisms and mutations has led to major advances in our understanding of the human brain.

      So no society is not responsible for bipolar disorder, it's a physical problem rooted in biochemical, physiological processes of the brain, that increase overall arousal, and decrease impulse control as well as task planning abilities, to create a disorder that can become quite deadly if left untreated

      March 2, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Robert W.

      @ Brad : If that were true than why isn't everyone sick? I have know people who have lived through the worst situations and they are very healthy as far as I can tell. Then others who had very good up brigning got sick. I doubt it is caused by " little rules of society caused by religion". But of course there are other woes you can blame on religion if you are so inclined.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • Dreamer

      You think religion, rules, and right and wrong are the cause of mental illness? We've got a largely secular nation of people who can do pretty much whatever they want on all sorts of anti-depressants, and with mental illness rising, and you think that's BECAUSE OF rules, and religion, etc? I think it's exactly the opposite. I think it's because of the lack of rules, religion, and common ideas of right and wrong that are the cause of mental illness. It's not having any anchors to shared beliefs, common rules, a sense of personal and communal history, a sense of community through common social frameworks, etc., that makes people go crazy, and our nation has more of that than not. Extreme personal independence as we practice here in the US is liberation into isolation, and if anything, THAT is what is making us crazy.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      No, it is not environmental. It has nothing to do with your wiring. It is a chemical imbalance.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:08 | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      medstudent says: "dopamine, norepinepherine, and serotonin.." Good thing to because with prevailing medical dogma it is hard to make a buck from medicine if you can't make the diagnosis fit some biochemical abhoration within the slab of meat called a human being. Stick with it medstudent the biochemical model will ring true as long as science can and that is going to be quite some time. Science has still to get to the diety phase and then the resurrection phase. Then then the golden calf, the antichrist and then we are done with science.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
  3. Living WIth It

    As a person who has been diagnosed as bi-polar, and a person who has suffered with depression for the last 40 years, I welcome advancing research. My daughter also suffers with this. We struggle every day, even with medication, to work and get through our lives. It helped ruin my marriage and my last relationship. It is very hard to be normal when your brain works against you.

    March 2, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      I've suffered a lifetime of depression which has ruined every relationship I've ever been in. I have to explain to the women in my life that my brain hates me and to please try and bear with me. That, in itself, is depressing and drives some away.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • nsarah

      i was diagnosed as being bipolar after having my first child. It would be great to have more research done. unless you have suffered from it, you have no idea how horrible it is. If not for medication, i may not be alive today.
      drug or alcohol use does not cause mental illness. mental illness can possibly lead to those behaviors but not the other way around. it is an illness, just like someone who may have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, but it's involving our brains which control our thoughts, feelings, actions etc. for those that think otherwise, please, please do some research.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Kathryn Susbauer

      Personally being the second generation in my family I find it difficult but new medication give me hope that I will stabilize myself for a longer period and be able to at least be confidate about it. Suffering with it at times is like a shame or a secret that I dio not want to let out because I just to think that when I was hypo- maniic I was doing so good getting A's in graduate school Online but then the disease downward spiralled me so that I had to apply for NSC VA disablity now if I go back to work, unless I find a job that pays very well I lose my medical and prescription coverage, and $980 a month. college did leave me over $105, 000 in debt for my 1 graduate degree and the one that I dropped out with one class remaining due to burn out and depression.
      My mother suffers from depression as well so depressive runs on both sides of my family so I knew I ran a risk.

      March 3, 2011 at 02:26 | Report abuse |
  4. kumar

    That would be wonderfull to have such a tool at our disposal. The science should expand further where not only manic behaviour is assessed but also specific crook like, cheating like behavior can be assessed and those treated as well. Especially it should be a mandate for people in leadership position should go through such scan and get them treated if there is a need to - before they run for office or take up leadership positions in public or private. Kind of like the drug test that we go throught before getting an employment.

    March 2, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seraphim0

      Kumar... not all psychological conditions can be detected on a scanner like some virus removal computer on your computer. Talk to a first year psych student. If this were true, medications could 'cure' these conditions. At best, they are a bandaid over the problem in most cases. I now you mean, if this technology progresses, but as much as I am a fan of the biological standpoint, there are other aspects of psychology that rely on the mind affecting itself (ala in the case of 'repression'). A psych scan of the quality and measurement abilities that you suggest is quite impossible.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
  5. MFP

    I gave up a lot until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 40. Would that there have been or will be a way to diagnose and treat it from the very beginning. For 18 years now, I am very lucky that basic lithium keeps me from being ill. Bring on the research and help all who truly need it.

    March 2, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • angie

      If you don't mind me asking, what finally lead to a correct diagnosis?

      March 2, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • jendfly

      @ Angie:
      I was treated for depression for 8 years before my doctor finally snapped. It was the manic episodes that led her to the correct diagnosis. It is not easy to find a doctor who recognizes it for what it is. It doesn't help when people try to tell you it's not real. What is the old Native American prayer "Let me walk a mile in my brother's shoes..."

      March 2, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • angie

      Thanks Jendfly. Every time I have another bad "phase" I say I'm going to talk to someone. I haven't yet. It's hard.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  6. CWhatsNew

    "At least one episode of symptoms like being overly euphoric, agitated behavior, racing speech and impulsive behavior to name a few"?

    Who doesn't have at least one of this? I have had. So I might be bi-polar too?

    March 2, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • angie

      I hear ya. I often wonder if everyone feels this way.

      March 2, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • jennifah

      So you've had manic episodes and depressive episodes to the extent that they have disrupted your life? Everyone experiences periods in their life where they feel euphoric, or has racing speech, or does impulsive things. However, when it comes to the point where it disrupts your day to day living, and impairs your function, that is when it becomes a problem. Do a little research! Mood swings does not a bi-polar diagnosis make!

      March 2, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • John B

      I've never had anything remotely resembling any of those behaviors.

      March 2, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • angie

      jennifah, how do you know if it disrupts your daily life? What if you have become really good at coping with it? Nothing ever fits perfectly into textbook definitions.

      March 2, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
    • CWhatsNew

      Thanks, Jennifah. That's a relief. it never became a problem for my day-to-day living. So I'm not bi-polar. To the opposite, it helps me in many ways of my life. I always thought I was just brilliant (you don't totally believe that :), when I had those 'racing speech and feeling euphoric'. Never thought I was bi-polar.

      March 2, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • Assisi

      If you were bipolar, you would know it. It is such a disruption to your life – especially without meds. Though, the meds aren't exactly a great solution either.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • jendfly

      Bi-polar manic episodes are different than feelin' happy. There is euphoria, certainly, but there is also anger, dangerous behavior, your need for sleep can go away, and for me (and Vincent Van Gogh) I get incredibly creative. Really. When I swing the other way, I don't even feel like doing my art. So it's not just about one symptom and it is always associated with bouts of severe depression (not the kind where you break up and cry all day....you just cry all day for no reason). People need to read more about it to truly understand how devastating this can be: to family, relationships, jobs.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      Angie- if you are concerned enough to start asking questions about it.. you really need to see someone. That's the bottom line. Everyone who has this disorder can think they have a 'good coping mechanism' and such... but unless you gain another perspective, you -really- can't say that you do. I was on medication for a time, and no longer am (it, to me, destroys my creative cycle... which I cannot have) and while I definitely keep a reign on my swings (most people don't even know I have the disorder), those close to me see and recognize them. The important part, is that I do as well and can consciously do the things I know I need to do to get through them. Would medication help? Undoubtly. However, it is not an option I am willing to take.

      I do not self medicate in any way. Vigilance, understanding how your moods work, and the ability to keep them under reign are paramount. With, or without medication. It is not a weakness toa dmit you need help. It's simple intelligence. Go talk to someone. The worse that can happen is you find out you don't have it... if you do, they can get you the help you need.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • Hi

      Not necessarily. Schizophrenia has a tendency to mimic the symptoms of other mental illnesses. For that reason, schizophrenics often end up misdiagnosed.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
  7. Holly

    Pseudoscience. The thoughts that they are having are causing the activation in that area, not the other way around. Question is, what is causing those thoughts.

    March 2, 2011 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Why won't this post!

      Exactly right. Pseudoscience.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • stejo


      March 2, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • What???

      No of course not. Thetans are something you have to take a leap of faith in to believe, just like you take a leap of faith believing your brain is diseased when no psychiatrist can prove disease in your brain at all. So both churches are something I find to be rubbish.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
    • Seraphim0

      Truly spoken like someone who has the slightist inkling of what the professions of psychiatry or psychology entail.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
  8. Jimmer1 is Right

    Jimmer1 is correct. Psychotropic medications cause mental illness as well as drugs and alcohol use. Anyone who prescribes these medications without first taking an MRI scan of the brain is unethical and should have their license revoked. Mental illness has a physical cause and is not mental but physical. Psychiatrists and particularly psychologists need to develop some ethics in this regard, especially in California.

    March 2, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jendfly

      Uh, actually it's caused by the brain producing or not producing the right chemicals. So I guess that is physical. So treating it with the proper chemicals would put it at bay.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
  9. Bethany

    Haveing a Mental disorder is a living nightmare.Yes alot of people talk to fast and are moody and impulsive but it goes way beyond those thing's.It's painful it's scary and it's destructive to your whole life.I am trulie glad that I made it through once again.Lost alot of myself along the way though.I am thrilled about any research or even Ideas that can help us to better understand Bi-polar disorder and other Mental disorder's

    March 2, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CalgarySandy

      Thank you. I am glad you made it through. So few are able to find a doctor or med that works.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      Bethany, I am also glad that you made it through. I am bi-polar and have probably been that way since I was about 19. I was finally diagnosed at age 50 while I was in the midst of one of my worst depressions. I have to say I was relieved as now my life made sense. It took awhile, but I am stable on my meds. My problem with the medical community is that it has been shown time and time again that there is something wrong in the brains of bi-polar and schiophrenics [sp?], so why is it still called a mental illness? It is a physical defect in how our brains are wired.

      March 2, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
  10. jennifah

    If you think you have a problem, don't pay attention to folks like Dr. Drew or Sanjay Gupta – get checked out. Don't listen to anyone else in your life. If you feel like you a danger to your self or anyone around you – go to a hospital. If you don't have health care – talk to someone at your local NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) affillate. They can alteast point you in the right direction. Mental illness isn't a joke as some would believe. There are millions of Americans living with a serious mental illness – you never hear about us because we are not famous and we don't committ violent crimes. We go about our daily lives – for better and for worse. We do what we have to do to survive. We take care of ourselves or we don't. Just take care of you – unlike some famous folks in the press right now.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. EuphoricCrest

    Dr. Gupta, it is no wonder your colleagues in psychiatry are challenged in determining a diagnosis. They lack the training. Only a Clinical Neuropsychologist is qualified to conduct a full battery of tests to competently assess mental illnesses.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CalgarySandy

      I agree that a neuropsychiatric can do the interpretation of the scans. It will still need people competent to help the patient to do the rewiring necessary. In my experience psychiatrists are arrogant and rigid. They get angry and snotty if you disagree with them. They even get belligerent if you say the meds are not working.I have seen many in 40 years and am worse than I was to start with. I would like to see teams of neuropsychiatrics with adequately trained psychologists.

      It is not likely possible to take people off these kinds of meds due to the terrible withdrawals and after effects. It may not be necessary. Good scientists are trained to watch for such things. They could lower and raise the meds over time to see what effect it is having. It is a conundrum and it also a start to helping 1 in 5 north Americans who are surrounded by people who have no compassion and who make nasty jokes, or worse, tell you you are lazy and just need to get up and do it.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
  12. Litmus

    Makes sense to me. On bad days I question everything and can do nothing, and on the "good" days all that crushing inhibition is gone. Lucky for me I just get talkative and don't lose touch with society.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dystopiax

    The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association is not a BIBLE. It is a reference book full of systematized guesswork. Its iterations and editions no more approach mental health TRUTH, than annual Miss America Contests approach TRUE BEAUTY

    The computer technology of digital imagery across the last 25 years is deluding bright people into believing ridiculous things, and causing dumb people to think we can mouse or joystick our way to the Answers to the question What Is Life?

    March 2, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Robert

    After experiencing mental illness with my Mother her entire life (she passed away last year at age 74) and now dealing with it with my daughter who is 21, I am at least happy that it is being brought out into the open and being discussed in the media. These people don't walk around with bandages or have a visable sign of a problem, so often they get over looked or thought of as crazy. My hope is that the stigma around mental illness will go away and that people will begin to truly understand just how widespread this is.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. nsarah

    Jason, i know exactly what you mean.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. pumpkincat210

    Bipolar disorder is characterized by the occurrence of at least one manic episode during the patient’s lifetime.
    HA!!!! Guess everyone is bipolar.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Thomas Chi

    I interviewed adult film star Bree Olson many times for my screenplays, Marilyn Manson Murders and Marilyn Manson Trilogy. Bree Olson real name is whose real name is Rachel Oberlin. She would say something, take it back, say something, ask to have it erased two weeks later. It got to the point were the editors simply deleted everything she said, but I still have the videos with releases from her. Charlie Sheen should have never brought Bree Olson into his life. Forget seeing your children until they are 18 now, Mr. Sheen.

    Thomas Chi
    Marilyn Manson Trilogy

    March 2, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. mimi13

    I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder almost 15 years ago. At the time I was severely depressed. While I had never experienced a true manic episode, the psychiatrist who diagnosed me said he saw evidence of hypomanic episodes (very mild mania). I tried every mood stabilizer under the sun. Nothing worked. I gained weight and was severely depressed and suicidal for 5 years. I saw several different psychiatrists and all stood by the bipolar diagnosis even though it didn't seem to fit (I never experienced mania and the mood stabilizers did nothing to help. I stopped taking all prescription medication about 5 years after my initial diagnosis. I started taking fish oil and eating healthy then got pregnant with my first child several months later. My depression completely disappeared while pregnant. I had another child in 2006. I had mild post partum depression after the birth of each child but got through it in several months taking fish oil and with the help of a social worker/therapist. My oldest child is now 8 and over a year ago he was diagnosed ADHD – Inattentive type. When he got his diagnosis I started to wonder if I was just ADHD like my child. The more I read about his diagnosis, more about my own life started to make sense. FOUR different psychiatrists insisted I was bipolar even though I didn't feel like the diagnosis quite fit. I received a diagnosis of ADHD Inattentive type several months ago and started taking medication for that diagnosis. For the first time in my life I feel GREAT. It's still tough to not get frustrated by the number of years wasted with the wrong diagnosis. Clearly psychiatrists don't always get it right. I'm pretty sure we can't diagnose someone from an interview...

    March 2, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathryn Susbauer

      My mental health provider while treating me found that my Bi- Polar was causing ADHD was how the diagnoses was written and for over 2 years on top of my Bi Polar Meds I was also taking Ritalin but I stopped it last year after I tried to find other ways to combat the ADHD with out the drugs as well .

      Some symptoms of BiPolar and ADHD are the same and can in some appear the same epecially the hyper. The periods of lille to no sleep know those well as well as trying to getting eveything thing done as quickly as I can. For me, shopping binges are a good sign of hypomania.

      March 3, 2011 at 02:43 | Report abuse |
  19. Dreamer

    OK, so it's wrong to call him Manic, because we're not psychologists. But, we are human beings, and as a human being with an opinion, I'm going to call him a crazy forker. How about that? That's not in the DSM-IV, but it is accurate.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Why won't this post!


    March 2, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Why won't this post!

    It is fascinating that people will go to a psychiatrist, sit four feet away from him, and neglect to notice that the most advanced piece of technology he picks up during the visit is a pen and paper, yet walk out of the office believing they are brain diseased. Truly a leap of faith.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seraphim0

      I think you're getting psychologists and psychiatrists mixed up there, friend. A psychiatrist is not likely to engage in long term talk therapy. They move to biological components of the possible mental disorder. They prescribe medication, etc. They may recommend long term talk therapy with a psychologist, but its not likely save in abnormal psych.

      However... if you think every problem can just have a drug thrown at it to make it go away... just... wow. Look up psychology and psychiatry. Do yourself a favor.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  22. ed

    the crackheads in ct are on ssdi claiming bi-polar disorder disgusted with the system

    March 2, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Patty

    Wow, this is a subject that is with me every day. My father was bipolar, called manic depression in the 60's. After 7 suicide attemtps, he was sucessful on the 8th attempt. He was only 34. I was the oldest of 6 kids at the age of 15 and the youngest was two (3 boys & 3 girls) Today, the three boys have been diagnosed with bipolor disorder (one is hyper-manic) and us three girls with depression. Four of our children are also bipolar. We didn't know we where ill when we had kids and we also didn't know this could be passed on. I know all about the medication merry-go-round game. Even being with us being related, our treatments are all different. Two of the family members are still going from drug to drug year after year. It seems like the doctors just throw what medication they can at you and hope it works...and they keep doing that until they get lucky or the patient just gives up and stops going to their appointments. People usually don't go to the doctor when they are manic (unless they are forced), but they do go when they crash and fall into a very bad depression. Most times the doctors miss the manic part and only treat the depression. Sometimes it seems like not much has changed since the 60's.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Linda S.

    Mental Illness is a true stigma and should be dealt with on the most professional level possible. As for Charlie Sheen, none of us are in a position to "diagnose" him or even make judgement. My concern, however is perhaps all of these "recreational drugs" he proportedly has taken and party lifestyle has manifested itself in a real physical impairment. Can too much Cocaine hamper the brain? How tragic that if the case, he brought this condition on himself. How tragic for his family and friends.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. jen


    March 2, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. erich555

    True classical medical bipolar syndrome is as rare as turrets. The psychiatric community in the last 20 years has broadened the definition of Bipolar to include most of the population. And the RX industry makes billions.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Moods

      Who can prove that an elevated mood or a despairing mood is a 'disease'? Psychiatry called being gay a disease until DSM III. Moods can be extreme. Why is this a medical problem? No doctor proves real disease in your body, they just don't like your behavior.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  27. matthew harrison


    March 2, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Stuart Johnston

    As a person diagnosed with Bipolar and already having faced many psychiatrists. Let me just say that when you say "For now, patients with true mental illness can get outstanding diagnosis and treatment" is not accurate. Not accurate at all. The success rate for psychiatric medicines hover around 30%. After messing around with various different doses and meds...it could take YEARS to find the correct formula. In addition, drugs like Geodone, Zyprexa, Lithium (and others) not only change the person...but have disasterous side-effects as well. Zyprexa, for example, has been shown to reduce brain size in monkeys. None of the psychiatrists I spoke to even knew this information.

    IMHO...the current state of psychiatry is nothing more than an educated guessing game. Some doctors are better than others...and yes...the whole industry has certainly gotten better than having to perform lobotomies as routine. That said, the state of psychiatry today is simply pathetic...with success rates around 50%.

    So many people's lives have been destroyed because they pursued a psychiatric solution and were given incorrect advice..

    March 2, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lets

      'pursued the psychiatric solution', lets not forget the millions who have had this 'solution' forced on them by the state, who were never even given a chance to explore other options, and aren't, to this day.

      March 2, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
  29. CNNresponder

    For those debating on meds, it's plain and simple. Different meds affect different people in different ways. The problem is that research can't (at this point) determine which med, if any is suitable for each person. Giving bipolar folks (or anyone for that matter) the wrong meds can cause their symptoms to worsen, gain weight or or experience other issues. I know folks who have sadly become lab rats to the doctor because pill X, Y, Z or a combo of meds didn't work. When they quit the meds or didn't mix & match and took everything else in moderation (e.g. alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, sleep, etc), they were much better. As with anything, this isn't the answer for everyone. I'm just saying that advanced research needs to happen.

    March 2, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 34onefive

      The first pole is a manic state caused by insomnia. The second is the depression you get from being labeled a mental patient for life and being robbed of all hope by quacks.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
  30. Jim

    It is unfortunate that many employers and a large portion of the students still trained in psychology do not recognize BP as a disability (Its not visible–try mentioning you are disabled to an HR specialist, the first thing they do is look at your arms and legs before they ask what the nature of the disability is, it always happens). Yes, treatment is very complex, and employers will see "temper tantrums" from employees on occasion, especially when the employer refuses to grant accommodations Medication for an individual is an ongoing effort, and the problem is worse due to the number of medications, and managing or avoiding side effects. I had a work history where I could not maintain employment in a single job for more than 3 yrs, and once I was diagnosed and treated (thankfully I have a great Dr monitoring me) I have held positions for 10 and 5 yrs each. The medication allows me to feel like a human for the first time in my life. CNN should do a report on BP as related to disability coverage by ADA and the things that employers do to make life a hell for those of us unfortunate to have this medical condition. I had one employer who knew my status have a police group come in and lecture the company on what are the symptoms of someone going 'Postal" instead of educating them on bipolar disorder. Essentially, they isolated me from everyone else, and stirred fear at my presence in the company. I was told that there would be no tolerance for "tantrums" and harassed me until I left the company-a healthcare provider. Treatment is a cooperative effort between the patient, their PCP, their family, friends and the workplace–and the workplace needs to be a partner, not an opponent.

    March 2, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      "the first thing they do is look at your arms and legs before they ask what the nature of the disability is, it always happens)." What do you expect? mind readers?

      March 2, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • psychology student

      you have a pretty good case for a lawsuit. I would say find a good lawyer. Also, ADA clearly states that Bipolar Disorder can consist a disability if it is severe enough to interfere with a significant life activity, which it often is.

      March 3, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
  31. Captain_Colossal

    Sheen doesn't have us ASKING what 'bi-polar' is ! He has us all acutely aware of what bi-polar is!

    March 2, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • simape

      No he doesn't. Maybe for people like you who will believe anything a TV quack says without having even had the guy as his patient it looks that way but not for all of us.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:15 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      He seems like he is on drugs or just acting strange. He doesn't seem bi-polar to me. But that's just because I got to witness someone I love get diagnosed with this.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
    • Captain_Colossal

      nope sorry toolbag i was going on the many interviews ive seen of him and his actions over the years not the doctors diagnosis. try again little kid

      March 2, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
    • AC

      Unfortunately I am well aware of bi-polar behavior as it it prevalent in the family. The readers who complain about the pop psychiatry are right. No doctor could reliably state a diagnosis as an absolute without first hand study of a patient. However, what is possible is to reasonably conclude the strong likelihood of bipolar based on comparison of past and and current behaviors. This lack of comparison, I think, is the biggest problem with diagnosing patients today. The doctor does not have a base behavior to compare to. However, family members and close friends do. These people should be instrumental in aiding the diagnosis process. Based on my personal experiences observing bipolar behavior the most outwardly notable sings are unusually long periods of awake and sleep, lack of speech, thought, and behavior filters, repeated very unusual behavior relative to the person's past. Charlie Sheen may or may not be bipolar but he does appear to repeatedly show very similar symptoms and behaviors. Who in Hollywood blasts the people who pay them handsomely so openly in the press? Its often career suicide. A lot of people have strong opinions but they dont make them public. There seems to be a lack of filter here. The problem here is that Sheen is very articulate and intelligent so many of the things he cites are plausible. People will say he is just fed up and standing on principle. But then he mixes in off the wall rants and assertions. Again, logic filter and the ability to decide what is appropriate public behavior is gone here. I am not a doctor but I can tell you that the wide-eyed frenetic look and behaviors he is exhibiting compared to his past is all to familiar to me. Either way he should be thoroughly examined to see if it is a medical issue or not.

      March 2, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • AB

      Well said AC. That look is familiar to me too.

      March 2, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
  32. kathy

    I had felt I was bipolar since age 22. When I was 51 someone finally gave me lithium. Thank you lord!!!!! I cannot live w/o it. I can see manic-depression in many family members. I think it is greatly under diagnosed!!

    March 2, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • betty

      People see what they want to see I guess.

      March 2, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
    • steve


      Your sarcasm is disgusting over a very sensitive matter.
      Wonder what your future holds?

      March 2, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
  33. steve

    It's so obvious thate Sheen is a coke head. He's been doing lines for years. End of discussion.

    March 2, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Matt

    I believe the correct term is Bi-winning

    March 2, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Lonette

    Yeah, that's right. Let's throw everyone that acts "abnormal" in some manner into the bipolar category. If you don't know what you're talking about, don't write about it. Why don't you find someone that suffers from bipolar disorder and ask them? How would that be for an expert opinion?

    March 2, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. olliesmom

    Some people do not understand what a manic episode is. Reading the definition and seeing and living it are not the same. Although Charlie Sheen appears to be manic with his ramblings, his poor judgment and other issues, he could have an chemical imbalance from BEING OFF of DRUGS that he has been on for a long time, causing the erratic behavior. I pray he gets help. As a Bipolar woman, 41, I was not diagnosed until the age of 36. I know I was hypomanic at different periods in my life looking back but so far, THANK GOD, I have only had one true full blown manic episode. Mental illness runs rampant in my family and the gene presents itself with ADHD, Depression, Schizophrenic and Bipolar....at least in my gene pool. My grandmother was schizophrenic. My brother is ADHD. My aunt has Major Depressive Disorder. I have several other family members on my grandmother's side, including her brothers and sisters and their children, who also present with mental illness and there has a suicide, as well as many attempts. NO ONE understands if they dont live it, or live with somebody who is mentally ill. At the very least, Drs are trying to make steps forward for those of us who trust in them. I do not take an antipsychotic, although I did in the past for a short period of time, a few times. I take benzos and 2 antidepressants and a mood stabilizer. I was on Adderall for ADHD and was functioning at my VERY BEST but then I hurt my back, lost my insurance and bye bye Adderall.

    March 2, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. ed

    when there not doing crack they seem pretty normal

    March 2, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Barking Alient

    I think he is tri-polar since he likes pole dancers also. I just hope he recognizes he needs help and seeks treatment. I don't think anyone can force him to seek treatment unless he becomes a danger to himself or others.

    March 2, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Alex

    Bipolar disorder is just a politically correct term for crazy. And, yet another malady that greedy pharmaceutical companies can create a (yet another) drug to "treat." Everything HAS to be a disease. This way, they can make a drug that you will need to buy.

    March 2, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      What a stupid comment. Do you mean 'crazy' doesn't need treatment? Or that nothing is really wrong since the drug companies just made it up?

      March 2, 2011 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
    • rswatergirl10

      Do some research before you post such tripe. The disease has been around far longer then the pharmaceutical companies.

      March 2, 2011 at 18:54 | Report abuse |
  40. john

    Theres a doctor namer dr amen he does diganostic and treat of mental illness with brian scans only way 2 know if treatment works he is pioneer in this field if i had health insurance or lots of money i would go to his clinics for treatment and a more accurte diagonose. i have adhd combintive type i grew aroepund the concept that mental illness is curable and just a excuse, that practiance still continues these days just know its moved over to autism and other manic disorders, thats why these scans are a good step forward it shows wat normal or so called normal is and how ppl with mental disorders are below normal activity or were they are more gifted at, mental disorders arent diseases they are who

    March 2, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. john

    Theres a doctor namer dr amen he does diganostic and treat of mental illness with brian scans only way 2 know if treatment works he is pioneer in this field if i had health insurance or lots of money i would go to his clinics for treatment and a more accurte diagonose. i have adhd combintive type i grew aroepund the concept that mental illness is curable and just a excuse, that practiance still continues these days just know its moved over to autism and other manic disorders, thats why these scans are a good step forward it shows wat normal or so called normal is and how ppl with mental disorders are below normal activity or were they are more gifted at, mental disorders arent diseases they are who the person is it can only be control and somtimes tat aint possible

    March 2, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Melody22

    we can find the answer by asking any one in Hollywood , since they all seem to be bi-polars.

    March 2, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Ooplah

    Sheen fancies himself omnipotent. If he allowed his brain to sweat & he was near a fault, the eminating energy would trigger a 6.0 earthquake, I bet he believes. Its not about mental illness, its about being out of touch with reality.

    March 2, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe SoBe

      Don't you mean "if he allowed his brain to break a sweat...?" $2M per show will make anyone think they are god-like.

      March 2, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
  44. Fiona

    Sheen's nuttiness a ruse? I don't think he's a good enough actor to carry that off.

    March 2, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Jim

    I expect what my last employer did, asked me if I needed any accommodations and not ask what my disability was. They have no business knowing what your disability is, just how to support you to enable you to be a productive member of their workforce.

    March 2, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bethree

      What an enlightened employer. You were blessed.

      March 2, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
  46. olliesmom

    Charlie Sheen needs help, bipolar or not. Theres something wrong with his brain, obviously. He lost custody of his two boys this morning. I hope thats a wakeup call for him. I hope that the drugs have not damaged his brain beyond repair. I want to see him recover and get his life back together and Chuck Lorre to rehire him. Charlie, Im pulling for you!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bethree

      We oe a lot to Charlie Sheen for putting himself out there, whatever his motives. He has started an important and long-overdue public dialog on mental illness.

      March 2, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
  47. KritterKat

    It's more likely that Sheen is suffering from "Hollywood" syndrome. This symptoms include self-importance, becoming bored easily, and forgetting that you don't have to act for the camera 24/7. Causes include: getting a slap on the wrist after committing a crime, fans constantly feeding your ego, and easy access to alcohol and drugs.

    March 2, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bethree

      There is much to what you say. Hollywood syndrome, as you call it, has meant for him prolonging until the age of 45 any meaningful consequences for acts which were criminal in some cases. Anyone who has tried to raise a mentally ill person knows that like the rest of us they learn, albeit slower than the rest, from consequences.

      March 2, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
  48. pete

    And also has anybody else tried altertive meds like medical cannaibias. thers a strain called stavia those type of cannibis effects the mind, and has different postive effects in patiances with mental disorders or illness?

    March 2, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bethree

      I cannot answer about stavia as a medical mj. It is pertinent tho that today's mj, hydroponic and otherwise is much higher in tetra % than the stuff smoked by this old hippie, and there are two good studies out there showing the higher tet mj is associated with psychosis, sometimes actually inducing repeated bouts of psychosis. I suspect this has little to do with Sheen, who has favored stimulants, probably to combat agitated depression. Anyone who has a close relative with bipolar will have observed that stimulants (i.e., stimulating higher dopamine production in the brain) leads more directly and immediately to a manic or psychotic episode.

      March 2, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
  49. Stuff Charlie Sheen Says

    We love Charlie! http://www.stuffcharliesays.com

    March 2, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. hey

    forget about bipolar, the man clearly has a personality disorder...

    March 2, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Maybe


      It is possible to have both, you know.

      One can have chicken pox *and* a broken leg at the same time.

      March 2, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • bethree

      A diagnosis of personality disorder is often the psychiatrist's way of saying, 'I don't know how to help.' Try anotherpdoc is my advice.

      March 2, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
    • Starfire

      But he doesn't want help. He keeps insisting he is fine. How can anyone help him, when he believes he is a "Winner?" You can't help someone who won't admit he has a problem. Don't blame the professionals.

      March 3, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.