Case Presentation: A 23-Year-Old With Bipolar Disorder


Gus Alva, MD, DFAPA, presents the case of a 23-year-old female diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder.

Gus Alva, MD, DFAPA: Psychiatric Times presents this roundtable on the management of bipolar disorder, a phenomenal dialogue allowing clinicals a perspective regarding current trends and where we may be headed in the future.

This is an interesting case, as we take a look at this 23-year-old female who first comes in to see her psychiatrist with moderate depressive symptoms. At the time of the interview, her chief complaint included feeling like she’s lacking energy, she’s feeling depressed. She’s also reporting difficulty in paying attention, organizing her day, and accomplishing her tasks at work. Notably these symptoms started abruptly. Three weeks early, prior to that, she had been functioning better than usual, requiring very little sleep and getting more accomplished. Of significance, she reported two brief episodes of depression over the past 2 years. Each lasting about 2 months. And although the patient reported these depressive episodes as coming out of the blue, she learned after consulting with her therapist that they were related to significant psychosocial stress, stemming from the loss of her job and the deaths of 2 uncles, both of which were related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The patient reported that she still finds enjoyment talking to friends and socializing and she has hope of finding a new job and she’s constantly looking.

It’s noteworthy to bear in mind that in her first depressive episode she was treated with methylphenidate 25mg titrated up to 50 m and she stated feeling improved on this does with psychotherapy. Her second depressive episode, her does was bumped up to 100 mg which we saw improvement in depression, but she noted she felt a little activated and had trouble sleeping. With her third depressive episode, the therapist and PCP referred the patient over to a psychiatrist. Of great note should be her past psychological history: she was diagnosed with ADHD in middle school, during which time she responded well to methylphenidate. She continued to do well until her college years at which time she began experiencing difficulty falling asleep as well as irritability. At that time, she discontinued methylphenidate and was psychiatric drug free. She found that practicing mindfulness and yoga on a daily basis helped her residual ADHD symptoms. Of note, she had no history of suicidal thoughts or behavior, self-injurious behaviors, psychiatric hospitalization, or problems with substance abuse. Of note, regarding medical comorbidities, she was diagnosed a year earlier with type 2 diabetes, which was managed with metformin 1000 mg twice daily and her hemoglobin A1C was not poorly controlled. She was also diagnosed with high blood pressure 2 years earlier, that is managed by lisinopril 20 mg once daily. We noted that her BMI is 31, which is indicative of obesity. All other lab values were within normal limit. Significantly, her TSH was in the normal range and her urine toxicology screening was negative. Upon further querying of her family history, her maternal grandmother was diagnosed with a nervous breakdown and spent 2 months in a psychiatric hospital in her 30s. Her mother required little sleep, had a history of impulsive spending, and had a history of starting projects that she didn’t finish. The patient’s paternal uncles had a history of depression as well as alcohol abuse. Upon doing assessments, her PHQ9 is indicative of 18 points and her mood questionnaire she scored an 8.

Transcript Edited for Clarity

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