Episode 355: ADHD vs Bipolar II & The Spiritual Consequences of Suicide

Hello, friends! I hope everyone is doing well.

In today’s episode, we dive into the following awesome listener questions:

Our first question comes from a listener whose partner was diagnosed with ADHD in childhood. They’re now wondering if they might also have Bipolar II, as they experience random bouts of depression and “good days” that may potentially be hypomanic episodes. The listener questions if these mood swings could be catalyzed by situational factors or if they are indeed random. We’ll unpack the complexities of distinguishing between ADHD and Bipolar II, discussing the different symptoms, overlaps, and possible courses of action to consider.

Our second question comes from a listener who’s been grappling with deep existential thoughts about the concept of the “soul,” particularly relating to individuals who die by suicide. They wonder about possible repercussions in potential afterlife scenarios, despite not being particularly religious. They ponder on possibilities like reincarnation, memory erasure, or even punishment. In response to this question, we’ll delve into the intersections of spirituality, mental health, and coping with such existential concerns, while emphasizing the importance of empathy and compassion in our understanding of such tragic events.

As always, if you have questions or topics you’d like discussed on the show, please send them to duffthepsych@gmail.com. Be sure to check out the show notes for this episode at http://duffthepsych.com/episode355.

Question 1:

Hi Duff!  Thanks for all you do. My partner was diagnosed with adhd in childhood.  He’s wondering if he also has bipolar2, because he will get depressed seemingly randomly, but it’s just so hard to tell if it’s truly random or if it’s caused by a situational factor that he just can’t pinpoint. He doesn’t have traditional manic episodes, but he’s wondering if his “good days” are actually hypomanic episodes. I feel like these high moods are usually catalyzed by situational factors, like hanging out with friends or accomplishing a goal, but he feels like they’re random. Do you have any tips for distinguishing bipolar2 from ADHD?

Answer 1:

Thank you for this question. It’s actually a very common one because there are certainly some crossover behaviors between ADHD and bipolar or bipolar II. Bipolar II is different from ADHD in that it features hypomania, which is essentially a less severe and impactful type of mania. Both hypomania and hyperactive ADHD can cause impulsive behaviors, difficulty controlling impulses, and lack of self-control. Rapid speech and trouble focusing are also common in both conditions. Given a quick snapshot, it can be challenging to tell the difference between hypomania and ADHD. However, there are key differences to consider.

Firstly, the consistency and duration of behaviors or symptoms are important factors. ADHD is generally consistent and long-term, while bipolar II features fluctuations between depression, relative normality, and hypomania. When someone with bipolar II is not actively hypomanic, they may exhibit symptoms like low energy and lethargy when depressed. The variability and length of mood states are crucial in distinguishing the two. Even when someone with bipolar II exhibits ADHD-like behaviors, they typically come out of that mood state in a matter of days.

Another factor to consider is medication. People with ADHD are often prescribed stimulant medication to help them control their attentional abilities. However, giving stimulants to someone with bipolar II may trigger a hypomanic episode instead of calming them down and improving focus.

In the specific case of your partner, it’s important to consider the duration of mood events. Depressive phases in bipolar II tend to last for two weeks or more, whereas short-term changes lasting a day or so are less indicative of bipolar II. It’s also necessary to examine whether his “good days” resemble true hypomanic episodes or are simply a response to situational factors, such as engaging with friends or accomplishing goals.

While both ADHD and bipolar II can coexist in the same person, based on your description, it’s more likely that your partner has ADHD with mild mood issues rather than bipolar II. However, it’s important to consult with his psychiatrist or psychologist for a thorough evaluation and professional opinion. If he doesn’t already have a mental health provider, it would be beneficial to seek one.

Regardless of the origin of his mood fluctuations, it’s clear that he could benefit from coping mechanisms and greater insight into his experiences. Working with a therapist can help him explore these aspects and gain a better understanding of himself. Additionally, it’s worth noting that mania and depression can occur somewhat randomly but can also be influenced by external factors such as stress, illness, or lack of sleep.

In conclusion, I would advise your partner to speak with his healthcare provider to explore his concerns and consider a comprehensive evaluation. It’s likely that he has ADHD with mild mood issues, but a professional assessment will provide more clarity. Lastly, I wanted to mention that I’m working on a book about bipolar disorder, which will cover topics like ADHD vs. bipolar II. It might even include this question, as I find it relevant and informative. Stay tuned for updates on the book’s progress, as it may serve as a helpful resource in the future.

Question 2:

Hi, nice to meet you.

I have been struggling with a thought for a very long time. I have been constantly thinking about people who die by committing suicide. Even though I’m not a religious person still what if god or satan exist? what if anything as ”soul” exist? And what if something bad gonna happen to them? What if the higher energy put them in hell and punishes them for ending there lives? most of them would have committed suicide because they may couldn’t had the capacity to accept bitter truths of life.

What if the higher energy just delete all of there memories and give them rebirth or reincarnation again? What if those souls gonna get liberation without getting there mental illnesses cured? I don’t wanna happen any of these things to there soul. Or what if something even bad and worse gonna happen to them? I know there’s no evidence of any form of god, satan or higher energy but when i look at this universe and realize how perfect these all is, it’s nearly impossible to deny about the existence of any form of higher energy. So how to deal with this?

Answer 2:

This is a super interesting question, and I don’t think I’ve taken any quite like it on the show before. You’re struggling with a philosophical dilemma that has puzzled humanity for ages – the “what if” of religion and spirituality. Even if you don’t see any evidence for the existence of a god, a soul, or an afterlife, you can’t help but wonder, “What if?”

You’ve touched on Pascal’s Wager, an argument presented in the 17th century. It suggests that it is more rational to believe in God, as if you live your life accordingly and God does exist, you reap the rewards. If God doesn’t exist, you haven’t lost much, aside from some minor sacrifices. However, if you don’t believe in God and they do exist, you risk negative consequences. Pascal argues that it’s safer to believe, even without proof.

Ultimately, how you approach this question depends on your own beliefs and theoretical framework. Personally, I consider myself agnostic. If there is a God, I don’t believe they are fair and just. However, given our current state of evolution, I believe it’s impossible to know definitively whether God exists, making excessive worry about it rather futile.

In the grand scheme of things, we are an arrogant species of primates on a tiny speck in the vast universe. While existential questions can be intriguing, they can also distract us from the impact we can make in the present. It’s important to focus on leading a meaningful life, connecting with others, and making a positive difference in their lives.

Regarding your concern about suicide, it’s vital to challenge the assumption that those who die by suicide have done something morally wrong. This belief often stems from religious or societal influences. However, I don’t see anything inherently immoral about someone ending their own life. While there may be moral implications for dependents and family, the act of suicide itself should not be punished by a higher power, if one exists.

You mentioned the perfection of the universe as evidence for the existence of a higher power. I would respectfully disagree. Humans have difficulty comprehending vast scales, such as the time involved in human evolution. If there is a god, our actions would likely be of little concern to them, similar to a zookeeper worrying about the fate of a single ant. Furthermore, the concept of perfection is subjective and the universe can be chaotic, unfair, and ruthless.

Rather than becoming entangled in existential fears, I encourage you to channel your concerns into actions aligned with your values. Focus on making the world a better place and improving the lives of those you can impact. It’s also essential to expand your perspective on suicide and mental illness. There are various reasons why individuals may consider suicide, and it’s crucial to approach these topics with empathy and understanding.

Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to learn more, get involved, and become a support or resource for those who may be struggling. I hope my response doesn’t come across as criticism or admonishment. These are significant and daunting questions that many of us grapple with. However, dwelling on them and buying into worries may not be very useful. Instead, channel your energy into meaningful actions that can make a positive difference.

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