The Neurocritic has a very interesting post in response to a recent case study. A 24-year old lady with Bipolar Disorder was diagnosed with a Manic Episode. During this episode there was an increase in her use of mobile phone text messaging as well as the number of people she would be texting during this period. There was an increase from 15-20 texts a day to over 200 per day. The Neurocritic is right to point out that this can be a potentially helpful quantitative outcome. Usually there are a number of other factors that help the clinician to make a judgement about the diagnosis but a simple number such as this which acts as a proxy marker of illness can be very useful. An increase in this texting activity can potentially be costly in terms of relationships and phone bills.
Doing a quick Medline search using the terms ‘text and Bipolar’ (probably not the best search phrase but it did produce some useful results) returned 82 articles. Most were not relevant but there were a few studies where researchers had used mobile text messaging to ask people with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to rate their mood. In one paper the researchers suggest this approach can be quite helpful. Interestingly this approach was not designed to pick up the increase above. However if increased texting was a consistent feature of Mania then this might show through as an increased number of responses to a single such request for information on mood. Perhaps there is a study in there somewhere.
The Neurocritic has a very interesting contrast with the hypergraphia seen in some people with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and it is well worth reading the post. The Neurocritic’s suggestion of looking at social media output is interesting although it is one that has many ethical implications. There are many people who have been courageous in revealing their illnesses in social media forums. There are boundaries between the medical label that can help a person to seek and gain the help they need and the use of such labels in social situations to speculate about a person’s health. One way it might work is for the person to have a trusted network they have chosen to help them keep a check on any such tell-tale signs. All of this however would benefit from an investigation through clinical research in order to see if such an approach may be helpful and could be advised.
At the moment, as the Neurocritic points out there is very little research literature to support a detailed discussion.
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