Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
In correlation to the symptoms of MD,
Bipolar disorder has familiar symptoms such as:
psychmotor agitation - pacing back and forth
non-linear disorganized thought patterns
heightened creativity, among other things.
Because of this I wonder if MD may have a comorbidity with Bipolar Disorder.
There are two types of bipolar disorder, Type 1 with full-blown mania and possible psychosis, and Type 2 with hypomania (mild mania) and lesser risk of psychosis. Both also have "mixed episodes" where one has racing thoughts+physical lethargy or opposite, sluggish thoughts+physical restlessness.
Type 2 often gets misdiagnosed as depression due to hypomania often going unnoticed by patient and others. Sometimes a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder is made when the patient fails to respond to antidepressants, or gets sent into a manic/hypomanic episode.
I wonder if some people with MD may unknowingly also have Bipolar 2 due to it's usually subtle nature (as in it gets mistaken for depression).
Does anyone have thoughts on this?
Note, my experience:
I have experienced maladaptive daydreaming since as long as I can remember. I also struggled with a dsthymic mood until my late teen/young adult years, when it accelerated into a very deep depression. My MD worsened as well at the same time. I thought I had clinical depression for a long time, and It made me even more depressed that I never responded to antidepressants and stimulants, which either worked for a breif period the fizzled, or made me even more depressed. This "depression" worsened rapidly, with break periods on or two times a year when it just "randomly went away and I was fine". I hit a plateau were I had to be hospitalized for not taking care of myself/not eating because I wasted my days away either sleeping or maladaptive daydreaming. The doctors put me on antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, and then diagnosed me with Bipolar type 2. These medications also helped me with my MD, because i gained more self awareness and control over my thoughts and ability to focus and feel present.
I recommend though to anyone reading this that relates, to not self-dx and seek a doctor instead if you suspect you may have bipolar disorder. When you have bipolar disorder, especially type 2 it can be very hard to tell that you have it because one of the symptoms is diminished self awareness with degree of mood fluctuation, which means that when you experience your highs and lows, you can't always tell you are having them or if you can you are unable to recognize their degree of severity. Sometimes in retrospect you might wonder about what happened, but those periods of time seem surreal and confusing to make sense out of.
I don't know. When I read online descriptions of bipolar disorder, it seems like everyone I know has some symptoms of bipolar disorder at some times in their lives. When I'm daydreaming, I tend to be lethargic. When I'm physically active, I tend to think less and be more in tune with the moment. I tend to daydream more when I'm depressed. I tend to be more physically active when I'm less anxious. I'm more creative when I'm physically active. Sometimes, when things are going well in my life and I've been very successful at things, people start to praise me and I receive awards/promotions/recognition, and there have been times when I've let this go to my head. Then I feel more confident and take slight risks (nothing reckless, but I'll voice my opinion louder or take on something that actually is a bit more difficult than I realized) and when I look back on it, I see that I over-reached. Sometimes this has caused me embarrassment. Other times, this has caused me to be even more successful and capable. Sometimes I surprise myself even.
I've also experienced failure, and failure by itself is something that is difficult to handle. It's embarrassing, and it knocks your confidence out of you. There are people who enjoy other people's failure- especially if you had until then been successful, and especially if you let the success go to your head a bit.
Failure coupled with some bad luck- trauma, grief, illness- can really do a number on your mental state. It's natural that these things will cause depression. It's natural that you would find a way to cope.
Also I'm very high energy and blunt. I tend to have a full range of emotions. It doesn't get better or worse- it's just a fuller range of responses than I've noticed is average. I feel what I feel deeply, I express it and I move on. I do all of this much faster and with more intensity than others. I've always been this way. And while it is noticed and while some people don't like it, it is not something that has caused damage to my life. I'm just not a calm person. I never have been and I never will be.
So my point- if you give me a questionnaire about bipolar disorder, I will probably relate to a lot of the descriptions. Does this mean I have a mental illness? Well, I maintain meaningful relationships without drama in my family, friendships and marriage. I'm financially stable and have never put myself in debt. I've had career troubles- none of them were caused by my actions. I've never been fired or reprimanded. Usually I just don't handle stress well and don't like the work I did. I'm reliable. I'm also unhappy. I'm physically healthy. I waste a lot of time. I am not as productive as I could be.
While I believe that mental illness and bipolar disorder are real things, I also think we are in the habit of medicalizing what are actually totally normal emotional responses to hardships in life for people of differing temperaments. For example, yes I have mood fluctuations. As I said, I move between moods faster and with more intensity than is average. But I have always been this way and it has never been greater or worse in fluctuations. What I'm saying is it's a stable thing- I have a very intense range of mood fluctuations that has been stable in range and intensity for nearly forty years. I was like that as a toddler, a teen, a young adult, and now an older adult. I have been like this when I'm happy, when I'm depressed, when things are going well and when they aren't. This is not a disorder- it is my temperament. I tend to form relationships with people who can handle it; it's not been difficult. It tends to surprise people the first time they see it (because they'd thought I was calm and measured), but then afterwards it becomes just how I am. I don't do anything harmful to myself or others, I tend to just have stronger reactions to things than most people do and I tend to get over them faster.
Yet when I was younger, I did have doctors who wanted to medicate me for depression and who told me I couldn't see things clearly. I felt the same about them.
I think a lot of mental illness comes from rather normal personality quirks or temperaments that become either bad habits or neurosis. I think the desire to treat it all with medication can often make it worse. What I need is someone to help me keep my bad habits in check. I'm at a point in my life when I don't have to work so much. That enables me to spend more time daydreaming. When I was younger, I couldn't do that because I had to engage in really difficult work most hours of the day so I only daydreamed when I was sitting on a plane or whatever.
TL,DR: I guess I'm trying to say that all of us have our flaws, but I don't think it does anyone any favors to convince people that they have a serious mental illness. If your only symptom is that you waste parts of your life in maladaptive daydreaming, then chances are you do not have bipolar disorder or a mood disorder or any of these other things.
Emma your reasoning fails unfortunately in how you relate to these things. They are not just "mood swings". Online tests don't even cover half of what Bipolar Disorder is.
We're talking about cognitive decline here, were you cant read a map/find your way home. We're talking about speaking in gibberish/word salad.
Were talking about paranoid psychotic delusions, like believing our loved ones are going to die and trying to prepare for the funeral
We're talking about grey matter loss in the brain at a ratio far greater than the healthy adult, which causes alot of problems besides mood.
Emma are you able to sleep 20 hours if you tried? 14-16 hours of sleep for months? and I mean actually sleep be out cold for that long, then wake up and feel like you slept 4. Then not being able to get up to eat, because you're so tired and you have no appetite. Emma are you able to go 3 days without sleeping or a week with 4-5 hours of rest a night, and still feel like you have so much energy you want to run a marathon you want to have sex with everyone you want to spend all your money, the world is a beautiful place.
It's not a "personality quirk" and treating it as such only adds to the stigma that it's something others experience.
You can't relate to symptoms of bipolar disorder if you're neurotypical, perhaps if you read the bullshit quizes on the internet it may seem that way.
Bipolar disorder is alot more complex than that. It is wrong to assume people with bipolar disorder fluctuate moods quickly. The opposite is true. You are stuck in deep debilitating depression with psychotic features/cognitive decline for MONTHS, it's like you're stoned out of your mind but in a paranoid way. Then you have a week were its similar to being on cocaine/ecstacy everything is really great and there are no bad consequences to anything why cant other people have as much fun as you why are they trying to ruin it why cant they let you do impulsive things, they just dont get it. you're going to start a business and its going to be a success and you spend all your savings on something that never gets off the ground.
It's hard to tell you have bipolar disorder when you have it, because your self awareness skills get impaired. You can't tell you have it, but other people can. Other people ask you if you're on drugs. Other ppl tell you need help, that you seem off, that you seem like you lost contact with reality. And you don't believe them, it can't be that bad, can it?
Maladaptive Daydreaming is no walk in the park either. I truly believe it should be classified as its own disorder, so that people can legitimately seek help for it.
I was never saying that bipolar is not real or debilitating. Obviously it is, and obviously many people suffer. I'm just pointing out that there are several tendencies that people call bipolar symptoms that are also common in people who are not suffering from bipolar disorder, and the trend these days seems to be for people to be constantly telling others that they may have bipolar disorder or a mood disorder. The trend is to medicalize everything.
Obviously it is also a real disorder that is very difficult for people. Best I can tell, it has nothing whatsoever to do with maladaptive daydreaming.
For example, there are several posts on this forum mentioning bipolar disorder and urging others to seek help since this could be the core cause of their MDD. I have asthma. Asthma is a real thing. I don't go on to lung cancer forums and tell people they might have asthma just because both problems are in the lungs. I'm sure there are some people who have both, but really they have nothing to do with one another.
On the other hand, there probably ARE people in this community who are bipolar and who need to know that bipolar disorder can affect MDD and vice versa, so it's a totally legit topic. I just want to write a warning about people assuming they are related just because when you read a list of symptoms, you see some similarities.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 seven years ago. I don't know if you can link MDD with a specific mental illness, but MDD seems to have a general high co-morbidity with mental illness in general, whether it be depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, bipolar, etc.
I do think it's being overdiagnosed though, along with many other mental illnesses at the moment. It's really easy to walk into a doctor's office and get a diagnosis and several prescription slips nowadays. I was misdiagnosed with OCD myself, but I do think I genuinely have bipolar. My mother has type 1 so they were quicker to diagnose me because of the genetic factor.
It definitely depends on the individual, but honestly the hypomania is very noticeable in me. It's still obviously mania, It's just not as bad as my mom's. I did get a depression diagnosis before I got a bipolar diagnosis, but chronic depression and bipolar 2 have some big differences.
I was diagnosed Bio Polar when I went to a psychiatrist about my MDD. Not knowing what to make of my on running DDs he called them racing thoughts and labeled me bi polar. I don't believe I am.