The Riggs Blog

The Riggs Blog

The Riggs Blog is a mix of news about clinical work, research and educational activities from the Austen Riggs Center, as well as a source for information beyond our walls that we find interesting and thought-provoking.

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    Treatment of bipolar disorder begins with careful diagnosis. Because bipolar disorder frequently presents first with depression, or because patients with manic or hypomanic states frequently do not recognize themselves as having a problem, accurate diagnosis is frequently delayed. Though historically under-diagnosed, recent research suggests that bipolar disorder is currently over-diagnosed almost half of the time. There are no laboratory tests for bipolar disorder. Diagnosis is made by a detailed appraisal of symptoms and of family history, and by ruling out other conditions that present in similar ways.

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    Accepting an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 87th Academy Awards,  for their film, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Ellen Goosenberg Kent (director) and Dana Perry (producer) highlight how important awareness and discussion about suicide are in helping counter associated stigma and loss.  After receiving the Oscar on Sunday night for their HBO documentary detailing the emotional strain faced by trained hotline responders as they work to provide support and intervention for troubled veterans calling the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 24- hour call center, Ms. Perry states, "We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying to sweep it under the rug."

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    Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is a serious mood disorder characterized by wide swings in mood, energy and activity levels.  Though most patients with bipolar disorder experience depressions as a part of their illness, a manic, hypomanic, or mixed-manic episode is required to make the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. 

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