Life Events & Sudden Depression
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Q:  Life Events & Sudden Depression

Dr Phelps,

My boyfriend has bipolar disorder and is having his first depressed episode since being diagnosed and treated over 5 years ago. My question is, well actually I have a couple.  #1 his mother died in dec and we started dating seriously for about 5 weeks, we have been friends for a while. He (a doctor himself) recently moved to a new you think the death of his mother and the recent change (to serious) in our relationship and the change in jobs could possibly have anything to do with this sudden depression.  #2 also he recently went through some medical testing where he was put under and given strong pain meds. could there be a possible drug interaction here. the test were a little less that two weeks ago.

Dear Ms. D'--
#1: For sure, that's common to worsen under stress (and in December;  if you're living north of about San Francisco, in terms of latitude, that could play a role).  

#2: I've always been surprised at the way pain medications seem not to destabilize bipolar disorder, for most folks at least (I'm sure there's an exception out there ready to write me right now), compared to alcohol, for example, which is highly destabilizing even with a low "dose".  So I'd be less certain about the causal role of this factor for your friend. 

Dr. Phelps

Published March, 2002


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