Freshman Psych Student Diagnoses Roommate With Bipolar Disorder

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Freshman Psych Student Diagnoses Roommate With Bipolar Disorder

PORTLAND, OR–In a breakthrough discovery Monday, Portland State University freshman and Psychology 101 student Steve Wenger diagnosed roommate Chad Doane with bipolar disorder.

Steve Wenger with the psychology textbook he used to diagnose roommate Chad Doane.

"Ever since we started the chapter on affective disorders, I couldn't help but notice all of Chad's obviously bipolar behavior patterns," said Wenger, 18, pointing to a heavily highlighted page in Fundamentals Of Psychology. "Distractibility, flattened or non-existent emotions, agitation, anxiety–Chad's a classic textbook case."

According to Wenger's Mar. 15 lecture notes, bipolarism is a neurological brain disorder characterized by extreme mood swings–periods of depression or flattened affect alternating with periods of grandiosity and hyper-productivity–a set of behaviors that is "so Chad."

"Sometimes, Chad will be in a great mood, laughing and just completely bouncing off the walls," Wenger said. "But then other times, he'll be all quiet and serious, sitting at his desk reading, and if you even try to talk to him, he'll get pissed. Ever since I met him, I knew there was something kind of wrong with him, and here it is, all spelled out in this hypomania chart on page 459."

Wenger first began to suspect Doane was afflicted with bipolar disorder before Spring Break. He confirmed his suspicions Monday, when, for the second time in three days, Doane declined an invitation to play basketball with Wenger and a group of friends from Tillich Hall.

"Chad, you've got to get out more," Wenger told his roommate. "People that don't get any sunlight get something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). They've done studies, and test subjects were found to undergo dramatic personality changes if kept in a room without windows. It's a scientific fact."

Doane replied that he "[didn't] feel like playing basketball" and returned to watching TV, lending further credence to Wenger's theory.

"That's just what my T.A. was talking about," Wenger said. "People who are depressed just don't care anymore. It becomes an inescapable cycle."

Wenger then recounted a telling incident that occurred last week.

"Friday afternoon, Chad called me and asked if I wanted to see The Skulls at 9 that night," Wenger said. "But then, like an hour before the movie, he called and said he didn't feel like going anymore. He is definitely an ultradian cycler. Those are manic depressives who have distinct and dramatic mood shifts within a 24-hour period."

As Doane's roommate, Wenger has had the opportunity to observe a side of the bipolar sufferer few others have.

"Living with Chad, I see his sleeping and eating patterns, and they definitely shift erratically," Wenger said. "Sometimes, he'll be up until, like, 4 a.m. and still make it to his 9 a.m. lecture. Another time, he might sleep for 10 hours straight. But that's how it is for the person who cycles between insomnia and hypersomnia."

Wenger recently attempted to convince Doane to seek the help of a counselor at University Health Services.

"I told him he should talk to someone, but he immediately resisted, telling me he's fine and that he doesn't want to hear my 'stupid psych crap.'" Wenger said. "That didn't surprise me at all: It's very common for someone with a mental illness to be in denial, largely because of the terrible stigma attached to it."

Continued Wenger: "It can be pretty tough to live with Chad, especially when he's all clinically depressed over some girl who dumped him. But it's important to remember that it's not his fault: There are chemicals in the bipolar sufferer's brain responsible for the disturbances in mood. I can't remember the names of them offhand, but I'll know them by next week's exam."