Do I have Bipolar Disorder? Or, is it really PTSD!

Post Traumatic Disorder or PTSD is an anxiety based disorder resulting from experiencing a significant or traumatic event. Not everyone’s level of functioning is affected by PTSD.  Some are resilient and bounce right back, while the majority affected experience some symptoms.  There are also those who have been significantly affected. Their level of functioning is so impaired they have difficulty with social and vocational functioning.

Focusing on the symptoms or how one is being affected is  actually more important than the label. Quite a few of the symptoms are very similar to Bipolar and Quite often PTSD is misdiagnosed. PTSD doesn’t have the severe mood swings seen with Bipolar.

With Bipolar disorder, in the manic phase there are significant mood swings, risky behavior, getting by on little sleep, and grandiose beliefs. At the other extreme the person with Bipolar becomes extremely depressed and can have suicidal ideations. Some Bipolar people cycle on a rapid basis, while some are mostly depressed and occasionally have a manic episode. Then there are those who are manic most of the time and only occasionally depressed.

When a significant or traumatic event occurs, the brain has a chemical reaction that takes a picture of the event and stores the emotions experienced from it. Even though President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, if today I see a black limo convertible in Texas, the memory comes right up including my emotions at the time. That was a significant event that I saw on television and didn’t personally affect me but it still made a traumatic impression on me. Another ingredient of PTSD is that the trauma or significant event was against my value system. Our president was assassinated. My supposedly safe world was shattered.

Other symptoms of PTSD include hypervigilance or being constantly aware of one’s surroundings because something bad may happen if one’s guard is lowered; being easily startled, having problems trusting people, or having intrusive thoughts or images of the event. Another major symptom is an over reaction to similar events. An example of this is a person involved in a car accident having a panic attack when they drive through an intersection and see a car that looks identical to the one in the accident.

There is a filter in the brain where significant/traumatic events are stored and connected to the flight fight response. This is part of our primitive survival instincts. The filter in the brain gets its information from what the person sees, smells, hears, tastes and touches. When the brain receives information similar to the traumatic event an overreaction can occur.

Single event traumas can affect a person’s ability to function, however complex PTSD can affect someone again and again. This is repeated trauma. It happens to victims of domestic violence and by children who grew up in physical, emotional or verbal violence. Abused kids have all the symptoms of PTSD, plus they were never taught how to cope and deal with feelings or how to nurture and love others.

Military One Source

John Lee LMHC is now a Military One Source counseling provider.  This is a free Counseling service to military personnel including the coast guard. An example of someone who may benefit from Military One Source Benefits would be someone who may be having difficulties adjusting to family life after returning from deployment.    If you want to learn more about Military One Source benefits or if you feel you could benefit from counseling, click on the following link:

Resources for Veterans/Palm Beach County

Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK, Veterans Press 1 The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) has founded a national suicide prevention hotline to ensure veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. To operate the Veterans Hotline, the VA partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans can call the Lifeline number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and press “1” to be routed to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.

VA: VA Benefits: 1-800-827-1000:

Beneficiaries in receipt of Pension Benefits: 1-877-294-6380

Education (GI Bill): 1-888-442-4551

Health Care Benefits: 1-877-222-8387

Income Verification and Means Testing: 1-800-929-8387

Life Insurance: 1-800-669-8477

Mammography Helpline: 1-888-492-7844

Special Issues – Gulf War/Agent Orange/Project Shad/Mustard Agents and Lewisite/Ionizing Radiation: 1-800-749-8387

DCoE Outreach Center (Defense Center of Excellence)
What we do: • Provide an authoritative source of information and resources on psychological health (PH) & traumatic brain injury (TBI) issues• Help service members, veterans, and their families by connecting them with the resources they need to promote their resilience, recovery, and reintegration• Compile in-depth information and tools related to a PH or TBI inquiry
• Assist service members, veterans, families, leaders, healthcare providers navigate the
system of care• Respond to information requests about the DCoE• Support the Real Warriors Campaign.
Who we serve: • Service Members• Veterans• Families• Military Leaders• Clinicians• Researchers• Educators• Support personnel• Chaplains.
Benefits of our Center:• Specializes in providing in-depth information and resources related to the spectrum of psychological health matters and traumatic brain injury, not available elsewhere• Brings in-depth PH & TBI information/tools to warriors, families, clinicians, leaders• Collaborative in approach, facilitates networking and partnerships among DoD, VA, federal agencies and community organizations• Augments existing military and federal contact center and services.  Our Capability: • 24/7 availability of our Health Resource Consultants (most have masters or doctoral level degrees and healthcare experience)• Respond by phone, email, instant messaging, chat, fax• Respond to specific research requests

7305 N. MILITARY TRAIL, BLDG. 6, WPB; 422-8262
Provides information and referral to shelters, halfway houses, case management programs, substance abuse programs, food and clothing pantries and showers..

Center of Hope
1577 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL 33409; (561) 682-1118
*** MALES ONLY *** This is not a homeless shelter, it is a comprehensive program and shelter is only one component. Homeless clients must be willing to make a commitment to end their homelessness. As such, only appropriate clients will be accepted into the program via Social Services. The Center of Hope offers transitional housing with support services: comprehensive substance abuse treatment services; mental health screening and services; anger management classes; GED prep and testing; Adult basic education; budget management; interviewing skills; life skills, employability classes and job search; case management; reintegration services; on-site NA/AA; off-site NA/AA; transportation (when appropriate); on-site spiritual activities (by client choice); transportation to Salvation Army faith-based programs (by client choice); client newsletter; other long and short term activities for client skill-building, relaxation, and socialization.

First Stop Veterans’ Resource Center
3175 S. Congress Avenue, Suite 304, Palm Springs, FL 33461; (561) 968-1612 Ext 13
Provides community reintegrating services to veterans. Services include: job readiness skills and assessment; job training/educational referral; VA/SSA benefit information; peer support group meetings; outreach and family counseling.

Hire A Hero
5245 College Avenue, Suite 408, Oakland, CA 94618; (866) 447-3243 or 866-HIRE A HERO
Internet Site:
Hire a Hero is an Internet networking website helping returning military personnel get a meaningful civilian job. Hire a Hero brings together military job seekers, military friendly employers and local people who want to help our returning military personnel get started with the rest of their lives as civilians.

MHA Veterans Programs
2695 N. Military Trail, #10, West Palm Beach, FL 33409; (561) 712-0584 or (866) 832-3755
MHA is part of the BrAIVe Coalition, a coalition working alongside the VA to to build network of agencies helping Veterans and their families. Services include the following: Veterans support groups are held weekly at Peer Place–A drop-in center. Peer place provides a safe and comfortable place for consumers of mental health services to learn essential wellness and recovery skills. This peer mentoring program employs nationally recognized strategies for helping people with chronic mental illness help each other achieve the best outcomes possible in their lives. Peer Place also offers supported employment, peer mentoring, a computer lab, wellness planning and support, hosts 6 and 12 step recovery meetings including: a Schizophrenics Anonymous Group, Other supports include art and relaxation activities, and group counseling support and assistance creating a wellness and recovery plan. MHA’s Mental Health Resources Database: Contains a list of agencies and support groups that offer help about mental health and wellness in the community for veterans.

Local Veteran’s Facilities/Centers
West Palm Beach VMAC 7305 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL 33410-6400; (561) 422-8262 Provides primary and secondary level health care to eligible veterans in a seven-county area along Florida’s Treasure Coast. Comprehensive services include medical, surgical and psychiatric inpatient care and outpatient services in each specialty. In addition, extended care services offer community residential care, adult day health care, respite and hospice in addition to nursing home care.

Delray Beach Community Based Outpatient Program: 4800 Linton Blvd., Building E, Suite 300, Delray Beach, FL 33445; (561) 495-1973 Services Available: Primary care / internal medicine services; Care and management of chronic illnesses; Preventive healthcare screenings and evaluations; Nutritional consultation and evaluations; Outpatient nursing care and health education; Mental health assessments, screening, and therapies for a limited number of Mental Health diagnoses; Social Services assessments and referrals.

Stuart Community Based Outpatient Clinic  3501 S E Willoughby Boulevard, Stuart, FL 34997; (772) 288-0304 Services Available: Primary care / internal medicine services; Care and management of chronic illnesses; Preventive healthcare screenings and evaluations; Nutritional consultation and evaluations; Outpatient nursing care and health education; Mental health assessments, screening, and therapies for a limited number of Mental Health diagnoses; Social Services assessments and referrals

Vetsville Cease Fire House 291 N.E. 19th Avenue, Boynton Beach, FL 33435-2291; (561) 736-4325
To help disabled/homeless and hungry veterans by providing emergency residential lodging for $100 per week. No food nor transportation provided.