Neuroscience

Molly on the Hyperthymic Temperament

The Hyperthymic Temperament

Posted on 18 December, 2011, Read more at Molly.com…

The Thymus Gland is located by the breastbone in the nook between our throat and shoulders. A small gland, at risk as our sensitive neck and spine adjust to the ever-shifting weight of our skulls.

The Thymus, throughout history, has been a bit mysterious. It is believed to be a part of human/primate immunity and behavioral posturing.

Imagine male Gorillas pounding their chests. It’s thought that gorillas don’t only posture, but stimulate a specific biological response – to excite or to calm – by pounding upon their prominent Thymus glands.

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Angela Glass SxSW 2009 (Photo Credit @JayZombie)
Are You There God? It's Me, Gidget, Neuroscience

Hyperthymia != Bipolar

It was the use and consequential paradoxical effects of Clonazepam—suffering from drug induced episodes of hypomania—which lead to the discovery that I am what they call “a hyperthymic temperament”.

While it is true that patients who experience hypomania as a side effect of Clonazepam may prove to have a form of bipolar disorder that has previously gone unrecognized, drug-induced hypomania is not invariably indicative of bipolar affective disorders.

It’s frustrating because suddenly I’m facing the woes I wrote about in college regarding labeling mental illness, and the impact of the use of labels, such as “creative” or “over-achiever”.

Label it or Leave it?

Happy Hyperthymia and Hyper Hypomania

Hyper Hypomania vs. Happy Hyperthymia

Some people would include in the Bipolar Disorder category a consistently elevated mood called hyperthymia. Being constantly upbeat and always enthusiastic is not unheard of, but it is not the norm in the general population. It is more common to experience a fairly steady, neither-too-high-nor-too-low mood characterized by some contentment, some discontentment, some happiness, and some sadness — usually associated with external events such as receiving good news, problems with personal relationships, etc.

Does a long-lasting, exuberant mood that causes no problem need to be placed on the spectrum of mood disorders? In a clinical sense, no. If it poses no threat to anyone’s health, it is not a concern for psychiatrists. Cataloging and understanding a mental state like this, however, may help us better understand the full spectrum of emotional states related to mood disorders and provide clues about what can go wrong when moods become extreme.

Happy Hyperthymia

Some people always seem to be upbeat and energetic, trying new things and initiating new projects. This trait, which is sometimes called hyperthymia, is not unlike being on a “permanent high.” Some people argue that hyperthymia is a type of mood disorder that results in high activity and inflated sense of self-esteem — something like living with constant hypomania but with the crucial difference that it is not as clearly episodic. Instead, it seems to last and is without any associated depression.

While observations of many people indicate some of them have this mood trait, hyperthymic disorder is not recognized as a mood disorder by either of the two mainstream authorities, the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization. It appears in neither of their diagnostic manuals, the DSM IV and the ICD-10.

On the surface, people with hyperthymia seem optimistic and full of energy. They radiate self-confidence and self-reliance; they seem to believe they can do whatever needs to be done. They thrive on new experiences that promise variety, intrigue, and novelty. Usually, they have a great many personal interests, as well as plans for the future. They also can be articulate and witty.

It might be most accurate to think of hyperthymia as a temperament or personality trait rather than as a marker of a mental disorder. Of course, if this trait causes problems, then it becomes a legitimate subject for psychological or psychiatric care.

In fact, criticism of mainstream psychiatry is often directed at its alleged predisposition to label people with problems that don’t exist. The inclusion of homosexuality in earlier editions of the DSM IV — an error since corrected — is a frequently cited example. The reality is if someone is not unhappy, suffering, or a threat to themselves or others, psychiatrists have no reason to intervene. They are busy enough treating people with serious mental problems. It is only when complaints or serious problems appear that the labels of the DSM IV are applied as part of the process for providing effective treatment. A hyperthymic personality can be satisfying, productive, and creative. But if for some individuals it is a manifestation of a part of a spectrum of mood disorders, it could be problematic. For example, some people later diagnosed with bipolar disorder first seek help with depression after they have experienced a set-back in their lives. A close look back over their lives may reveal that they have been hyperthymic. Rather than having easily recognizable mood swings, these people may have been experiencing years of constant emotional elevation and enthusiasm along with a long history of uncompleted endeavors.

Also, the lack of a healthy response to the full range of life experience might cause problems for some people who always seem to have elevated spirits. A full, healthy life for most people includes periods of elation and introspection, action and reflection. If only one pole of our emotional lives is present, we may miss the benefits of the counterbalancing half of our responses to events. Consequently, we may lack understanding and empathy in the way we interact with people and respond to events in our lives.

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photo, Religion

Caffeine & Lithium Drug Interactions

Here is interesting stuff… so I was using caffeine to increase getting rid of the lithium. However, at that time I didn’t know that I’d been given Clonazepam. It is counterproductive on getting rid of Clonazepam.

[Three doses of] Lithium arguably did something good for me. It released this maniac that I adore… finally I’m the “me” I was when I was younger. Self-confident and assured. Alive and thinking. Living and focused. However, it appears just a half-dose would have done it, as their repeated doses kept me awake for 10 straight days, and besides Navy Seals, I can’t find anyone else who thinks that’s cool, nor good for me.

Clonazepam on the other hand is what makes a real life psycho. Manic sprees, up and downs. Chemically induced symptoms presenting as bipolar.

I’m kicking the caffeine again in favor of being rid of Clonazepam not a day longer than the torturous six months reported half-life.

Momma, keep me safe from these goons. Why don’t they believe me when I tell them their medicine will kill me? Isn’t it right there in all their own drug interaction sheets? I marvel at the psychologist who gave me sheet after sheet of drugs she wanted to “try” on me.

Um, I was just fine before they thought they knew more than me. I am SMRT, and waaaay SMRTer than Valerie, C. Castro or that other guy who barely rates in my memory.

All they did was fuel my apathy and create a revolutionary out of the sleeper that once was busy day dreaming about love, and living forever in a paradise earth that looks a lot like La Jolla. That I blame squarely on the almighty God Jehovah, and being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. They say religion is just a form of insanity. Perhaps that’s the only means by which I could be convicted.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t,… if only I believed in hell anywhere besides on earth.

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Ancestry, Neuroscience

Born to Be Happy, Through a Twist of Human Hard Wire

“I know, you’re bi-polar.”

“Old man, look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.”

Born to Be Happy, Through a Twist of Human Hard Wire

By RICHARD A. FRIEDMAN, M.D.

In the course of the last year, the woman lost her husband to cancer and then her job. But she did not come to my office as a patient; she sought advice about her teenage son who was having trouble dealing with his father’s death.

Despite crushing loss and stress, she was not at all depressed – sad, yes, but still upbeat. I found myself stunned by her resilience. What accounted for her ability to weather such sorrow with buoyant optimism? So I asked her directly.

“All my life,” she recalled recently, “I’ve been happy for no good reason. It’s just my nature, I guess.”

But it was more than that. She was a happy extrovert, full of energy and enthusiasm who was indefatigably sociable. And she could get by with five or six hours of sleep each night.

Like this woman, a journalist I know realized when she was a teenager that she was different from others. “It’s actually kind of embarrassing to be so cheerful and happy all the time,” she said. “When I was in high school I read the Robert Browning poem `My Last Duchess.’ In it, the narrator said he killed his wife, the duchess, because, `she had a heart – how shall I say, too soon made glad?’ And I thought, uh-oh, that’s me.”

These two women were lucky to be born with a joyous temperament, which in its most extreme forms is called hyperthymia. Cheerful despite life’s misfortunes, energetic and productive, they are often the envy of all who know them because they don’t even have to work at it.

In a sense, they are the psychiatric mirror image of people who suffer from a chronic, often lifelong, mild depression called dysthymia, which affects about 3 percent of American adults. Always down, dysthymics experience little pleasure and battle through life with a dreary pessimism. Despite whatever fortune comes their way, they remain glum.

But hyperthymia certainly doesn’t look like an illness; there appears to be no disadvantage to being a euphoric extrovert, except, perhaps, for inspiring an occasional homicidal impulse from jealous friends or peers. But little is actually known about people with hyperthymia for the simple reason that they don’t see psychiatrists complaining that they are happy.

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Neuroscience

My Momma: Arlene Jean Schaadt Baxley

I was talking with my momma this morning about orthomolecular medicine, and all the work she’s done to help people achieve better health over the years. Most often when I’m thinking about my momma in this regard, I think of how it is that she’s responsible for bringing life to families struggling to have children. What more beautiful work can there be as a humanitarian than to care for the quality of human life, and it’s propagation through it’s generations of families? Continue reading

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