March 03, 2010

The Diagnosis (Helpful Resources)

The momma and I have decided to make March the month where we talk about the diagnosis. So in the next month I am hoping to share my thoughts on the diagnosis (and more specifically that of bipolar disorder, since that is the one I know most intimately), my thoughts on the pain of having a new label ("bipolar"), and my thoughts on the importance of finding an eventual diagnosis so that you can get the treatment you need.

So, the first thing that I would like to do is to provide resources for information about the main diagnosable mental health conditions. I want to provide this first, rather then share my personal story, because to some, good resources may be more urgent. As I discuss my diagnosis throughout the month you can always go back to this post for further information. Because so many of these sites do such a great job at explaining and addressing these illnesses (though I hate to call them illnesses) I will simply provide links to their explanations and definitions rather than attempting to create my own. I want to provide resources so that you can learn more about these illnesses and their signs and symptoms. All of these resources should be hyperlinked, so just click on the pinky/purply text.

The best place to start when learning about mental illnesses is to check out NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) “mental illnesses” links page. Through this page you can access information on illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and many others. Each page talks about what the illness is, how common it is, what the symptoms are, what medications and treatments are used, and more. You can also visit and under “Learn the Facts” view a quick list of common signs and symptoms for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Bipolar, and Schizophrenia. For more detailed information you can visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Health and Outreach page .

If you are worried that you are suffering from an undiagnosed mental health condition there are several online mental health screenings. You can find some of these at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) website. At this link you can find confidential online depression, mania, and anxiety screenings, as well as a downloadable child mania rating scale. Of course, if you are not only worried that you are suffering from a mental health condition, but are also having thoughts of suicide please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( or call 1-800-273-TALK.

The important next step if you think you have a mental health condition is to talk to a professional. It is extremely important to talk to a doctor before you diagnose yourself, but it is also important to go into the appointment with as much information as you can so that they can look at all the facts and get you the help you need. If you do not have your own doctor, and cannot find one in your area resources like BringChange2Mind's contact us page and the Knowledge Exchange Network (KEN)
(1-800-789-2647, 1-800-789-2647 or  1-877-495-0009, 1-877-495-0009
Live operators available 8:30 AM — 5 PM EST to refer you to public mental health clinics near you) may be able to help you.
Once you have an appointment, Healthy Minds has a page devoted to “Choosing a Psychiatrist”, answering questions like “where do I start?” and “what treatments do psychiatrists use?”.

I hope that some of these resources help make it easier to learn about a possible mental health condition and how to move closer to a diagnosis. In my next couple posts I will be discussing my personal diagnosis, and the importance of reaching a diagnosis.

No comments: