It was recommended to me that I write a post about how Asperger’s syndrome and Bipolar Disorder van be comorbid. As a person who lives with both, I couldn’t pass up this idea.
To tell the truth, I didn’t really know how the two connected. I’ve done some research, but not enough to remember what I read. After this person asked me about the two’s connections, I just had to look it up.
According to Merriam-Webster’s site, here are definitions for both Asperger’s and bipolar
Asperger’s Syndrome- a developmental disorder resembling autism that is characterized by impaired social interaction, by restricted and repetitive behaviors and activities, and by normal language and cognitive development —called also Asperger’s disorder
Bipolar Disorder- any of several psychological disorders of mood characterized usually by alternating episodes of depression and mania —called also manic depression, manic-depressive illness
These might not sound like they have much in common, but there is much more to it than a simple definition.
My psychiatrist told me the appointment after I got diagnosed with Asperger’s that bipolar disorder and Asperger’s is one of the most difficult combination of disorders to treat. He didn’t explain much after that, but after some research I found out why. Asperger’s and bipolar have many overlapping features. People with Asperger’s can have suicidal ideation, anxiety, and poor social functioning amongst other symptoms. This can lead to diagnoses of schizophrenia, anxiety, or bipolar. I live with Asperger’s, but bipolar is in the mix as well. My doctor often says my problems are caused by my bipolar. He has never said that I am having problems with my Asperger’s. I believe he is untrained in the autism field, but he is often right about what mood state I am in. I’m not sure myself if it is my bipolar disorder or Asperger’s causing the problem.
Bipolar can start out in childhood along with Asperger’s, and it often comes out with other disorders, sometimes misdiagnosed. I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, OCD, borderline personality disorder, childhood schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder. These were all taken away at some point and were replaced with Bipolar 1 (mania and depression, as opposed to hypomania and depression which is bipolar 2) and Asperger’s. Schizoaffective disorder, which is basically schizophrenia and bipolar together, was the reason I was asked to get tested for Asperger’s due to the same features, such as poor social skills and other symptoms they share. After I got diagnosed with Asperger’s, I was told to watch out for Schizophrenia as I age, but bipolar has stayed. The many diagnoses came from the two being so hard to diagnose, especially together.
Another symptom that is often misinterpreted between bipolar and Asperger’s is thoughts of grandiosity and unusual thoughts. In bipolar, grandiosity is the thought that one is superior and can do anything, such as write the Great American Novel in two weeks. People with Asperger’s might believe they can be liked by everyone or make everyone stop being mean to them. These are not grandiose, but can be seen as extreme thoughts.
Sensory issues can also come with the two. Asperger’s is known for this symptom, but during a manic episode, the senses can be heightened. Light and loud sounds can be difficult. Even a light touch can set someone, either bipolar, Asperger’s, or both off. I experience this mainly because of Asperger’s, but it is very clear that it is worse during mania and meltdowns occur much more often.
This was not found in my research, but I believe that both mania and depression have things in common with Asperger’s. For mania, a person might obsess over their ideas more. Our minds race more both in mania and Asperger’s. Asperger’s tends to contain obsessions that take up life. A person in mania will also obsess, but it can go to a dangerous level and lead to dangerous activities. Both hyperfocus on one or a couple of things. In comparison, depression and Asperger’s have lack of social skills and lack of concentration, I have an extremely hard time concentrating all the time, but when depression hits, I know I will in no way be able to concentrate.
As I did research, I realized why it is hard for doctors to diagnose and treat both Asperger’s and bipolar. I have a hard time figuring out the differences myself, and I’m living the symptoms. Hopefully doctors start having an easier time so patients can get the proper treatment. I’m still hoping for the proper treatment. Bipolar and Asperger’s are tough to treat, but they are also hard to beat. Dealing with it is tough, but with proper medical care, hopefully relief will be found soon.