An accurate diagnosis of your condition can benefit greatly from an examination of your family history, but you never know what´s going to fall when you start shaking your family tree. If you ask your relatives whether anyone in the family has ever been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you may receive plenty of blank stares and all too little useful information. Try asking this series of more probing questions:
· Has anyone in the family has alcohol or substance abuse problems?
Many people with bipolar disorder selfmedicate with alcohol and drugs.
· Have any family members been diagnosed with schizophrenia? In the not- so distant past, doctors commonly misdiagnosed bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
· Has any member been treated for any mental illness? If a family member has received treatment for depression, psychosis, or other mental illnesses, he may not have received the correct diagnosis.
· Has anyone in the family had to “go away for a while” to an institution, sanatorium, or rehab center? Families often like to cover up memories of relatives who had to be hospitalized for mental illnesses by saying that they had to “go away for a while”.
· Have any family members been known to be particularly energetic or eccentric? In the past, people politely described relatives with various degrees of mental illnesses
· Has anyone in the family suffered from physical symptoms such as chronic exhaustation, pain, or digestive problems? These can be physical manifestations of the illnesses.
If you were adopted, consider tracking down your birth records and contacting members of your biological family for medical information. This can help with diagnosis any genetically related illnesses, including bipolar disorder, heart disease, and cancer.
Family can be particularly secretive, especially when it comes to protecting the reputation of the dead. They can become even more defensive if you confront them while you´re in the throes of mania. Explain how important an accurate and detailed family history is for your diagnosis.
Source: Bipolar Disorder, candida Fink, MD, Joe Kraynak