Finding the medication for mood disorders within the student body


Meghan Culbertson, grade 9

During the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, someone experiencing symptoms may feel sad, tired, worthless and very stressed. If you or a friend feel this way, please dont be afraid to talk to friends, teachers, counselors, and other adults here at Patterson Mill.


Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that affects about 5.7 million Americans during any given year. With its maniac lows and highs, bipolar disorder can cause severe stress on those affected by it, including students. High school students in particular are most likely to begin showing symptoms because most people with the disease begin to show symptoms around the ages of 14-18. This can become a huge adversity to students and their grades due to all the added stress of the illness, but thanks to advancements in psychotherapy and medical technology, multiple treatment options are more available to people than ever before.

Luckily, there are warning signs of bipolar disorder, so it can be treated before things become too bad. There are two main phases of bipolar: manic and depressive. A person going through a manic phase will usually seem jumpy, have a definite increase in energy levels, won’t be able to focus on thoughts, and will act impulsively, such as buying things without thinking, that usually ending in disastrous economic consequences. After a manic phase, the person will undergo the depressive phase. The depressive phase will cause someone to have depressing thoughts, loss of energy, fatigue, indecisiveness, inability to think, feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness, and even suicidal thoughts and/or actions.  These phases can last for weeks or even months at a time.

Although the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, both biological and environmental factors have been proven contributors to the severity of the disease. If a family member has bipolar disorder, then you would be at a much higher risk of developing the disease. If an identical twin has bipolar disorder, you would have about an 80% chance of developing it as well. Risk factors, as listed by, can include a family member with bipolar disorder; long, extended periods of high stress; and use of drugs or alcohol make the phases worse and more extreme.

Consequently, maniac and depressive phases can have a huge impact on students’ lives. Whether it be high school, college, or a during a full time job, bipolar disorder can add a whole new level of stress to someone’s life.  The depressive phase can cause people to lose interest in after school activities such as drama, art club, and sports, as well as ignoring homework and long-term projects that will undoubtedly result in a much lower grade. The manic phase, though, can make people act impulsively, causing people to break rules that they usually wouldn’t with the possibility of some extreme consequences. Mrs. Jayme Limpert, the Patterson Mill High School health teacher, says to take a definite advantage of the school’s resources to help someone who may be struggling. People like Mrs. Limpert, as well as your assigned counselor, all of your teachers, Dr. Abel, Mrs. Zengel and many other people here at Patterson Mill are always available to anyone who needs a helping or guiding hand through dealing with bipolar disorder.

If you think that a friend may be experiencing these symptoms or may have bipolar disorder, there are some steps to get the help they may need. Before that though, you need to be sure not to pre- diagnose. Be sure to ask your friend specifically if they have been experiencing these symptoms, and even if they insist they are fine, be sure to tell an adult anyway. When telling an adult, be prepared for your friend to feel upset about it. They might not want you to have told anyone about how they feel, but just remember that it is so that they can live as healthy a life as possible. An adult, like a teacher or counselor, should be more than willing to help. After telling an adult, it’s mostly up to your friend and their family to do the rest. Hopefully, they will decide to see a therapist or psychologist to get the medication they may need. Be sure to check up on them periodically to make sure that their health is improving. This is probably a very stressful time in their life, so don’t be afraid to reassure them that you’re willing to help. Letting them know that a friend is available should definitely make them feel better.

If after reading the symptoms you think you may have bipolar disorder, be sure to follow similar steps. Again, even if you feel like the symptoms apply to you, do not self-diagnose. See a doctor before jumping to conclusions. You may have something other than bipolar disorder that needs to be treated appropriately, so make sure to see a professional. If you decide that a therapist would be most beneficial, they will have to run a few tests for a proper diagnosis. These tests may include physical exams to identify any physical problems contributing to poor mental health, psychiatric assessments, mood charting to take daily record of emotions, and a comparison with your symptoms to the criteria for bipolar and related disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Treatment can include medications like mood stabilizers and antidepressants, day treatment programs to help control the symptoms, and/ or hospitalization if necessary. Treatment options depend on the severity and longevity of the symptoms expressed.

Don’t be afraid to reach out or to help someone who seems like they may need it. The DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) has larger symptom charts as well as further education, wellness options, peer support, and their I’m Here Program. The I’m Here Program was started by the DBSA  as “a way—for both people living with a mood disorder and those who support—to open up a channel for communication and to say, ‘I’m here…’” Supporters of this program wear a small safety pin with small lime green beads on it. That way, supporters of bipolar disorder can be easily recognized. This gives people with bipolar disorder the reassurance of all the people that are always there for them.

Adults, friends, teachers, counselors, peers and the DBSA are all open sources if you or a friend want help through bipolar disorder, or any other stressful time in your life. Do not forget that this school is a family, a place full of people who care. If you’ve decided to get help and now know how, please be sure to do so, and stay strong.

DBSA homepage

DBSA I’m here… program

Suicide prevention lifeline/ website: 1-800-273-8255