For the Anger, Rage and Emotional Volatility of Bipolar Disorder, Type II Patients & Their Families

Archive for Anger Management

Are There Lessons to be Learned About Workplace Violence From the Connecticut Shootings?

By Mary Nelson-Haffner

The shock and trauma from the fatal shootings at a Manchester, Connecticut beverage distributor over the summer, spiraled the local community and nation into sadness, confusion and despair. The incident marks one of the worst cases of workplace violence in Connecticut’s state history. As the details of the story unfolded across the national news media, many people in communities coast to coast, including employees, managers, and business owners are focusing attention on education and training for identifying employees, or associates at risk for aggression and violence.

While some are left to wonder if the problems stemming from the economic recession are igniting more incidents of rage and violence, many experts in the mental health community would say that some of the year’s violent offenders may of had underlying psychological issues that were either misdiagnosed or undetected. Dr. Michael J. Woulas, Ph.D., a Southwest Florida psychotherapist treating patients for over thirty years, believes that much of today’s unexplained violent incidents could stem from the little known disorder of Bipolar Disorder, Type II. Because there are many differences from the better-known Bipolar Disorder, Type I, many managers and human resource professionals are not as familiar with the symptoms that are the hallmarks of this mental health problem.

“The missed diagnosed problem of the century, Bipolar Disorder Type II, may have existed as an underlying problem for the disgruntled employee, and without detection could have been responsible for the current shootings in Connecticut. Anger, rage and violence are core symptoms of Bipolar Disorder Type II. The shooter’s shocking behavior clearly reflects rage and violence directed at his co-workers, which is a common occurrence in untreated bipolar depression,” exclaimed Woulas.

According to Woulas, “most individuals with this serious but treatable mood disorder are passing through under the radar, due to lack of public and professional awareness. Moodiness, emotional volatility, rage and violence are too often and wrongfully associated with personality disorders, drug abuse or milder forms of psychoses. These symptoms are characteristic of a mood disorder, which needs to be brought into public awareness in order to prevent further catastrophic events from occurring.”

Woulas has become an advocate, author, and educator to bring more awareness about Bipolar Disorder, Type II. With better information and education, he believes we can curb workplace, domestic and social violence through greater public and professional awareness of Bipolar Disorder, Type II, or “the silent epidemic.” Visit for more detailed information on the symptoms and treatment options regarding this disorder. Woulas has also authored a book on Bipolar Disorder, Type II called “The Ticking Time Bomb”. Information on how to order the book is available as a link on the website.

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Are We Missing the Signs that Allow Dangerous Offenders to Continue to Walk the Streets, Rage and Kill?

By Mary Nelson-Haffner

The headlines in the news this past year that involved the suspected murder of a young 21 year-old Peruvian woman by Joran van der Sloot feels like a collective universal déjà vu that the world was first alerted to with the disappearance of popular, young, intelligent American high school senior, Natalee Holloway. For five years, readers have followed in disbelief the legal wrangling, interviews, hidden camera profiles and international spotlight on Dutch student, Van der Sloot, a young, educated, and some would say privileged and entitled young man. Like a psychological thriller you can’t put down, people were immersed in the real life story, many expressing condemnation, others asking questions, because Van der Sloot didn’t fit the expected profile of what we think a killer would look like.

In five years, to the day, between Natalie’s disappearance, and now Stephany Flores death in Peru, criminal profilers, psychiatrists, and psychologists have all weighed in their analysis of what psychological disorders were to blame. We’ve heard everything from Van der Sloot being a narcissist, having antisocial personality disorder; a sociopath and some refer to him as a psychopath. A psychological profile released to the media this past summer, stated that Van der Sloot “at the time of the evaluation, does not show pathological disorders that prevent [him] from perceiving and evaluating reality.” It also says that he “presents traces of an antisocial personality,” and “is indifferent when it comes to the welfare of others.”

It is certainly apparent that Van der Sloot’s behavior throughout his life was reckless, impulsive, and lacked empathy. He used manipulation, exploitation, admits he is a pathological liar, and with his recent imprisonment in Peru for the murder of Stephany Flores, the world can now see he was a ticking time bomb of rage, that was set off in an instance, with no ability for restraint or consciousnesses.

The story raises many issues regarding whether our global community’s collective judicial, medical, and mental health community are doing enough to diagnosis these ticking time bombs earlier. Even in his own self-published book Van der Sloot wrote called, “The Natalee Holloway Case: My Own Story about her Disappearance on Aruba,” he openly admits that he was in need of psychiatric help at a very young age. His mother also revealed in media interviews that doctors believe he was suffering from a mood disorder for years and was ironically, scheduled to be evaluated by a psychiatric hospital in Holland before he flew to Peru.

Dr. Michael J. Woulas, Ph.D., a Southwest Florida psychotherapist has been treating patients with mental and mood disorders for over thirty years. His research on Bipolar Disorder Type II, its symptoms and effects has him also weighing in on this story, as well as whether family, school officials, and maybe doctors missed some early telling signs. “Whenever I see someone who appears on the outside to be an ordinary functional person and then when provoked, turns into a raging, violent or abusive person, I suspect the existence of a Bipolar Disorder Type II. Both Type I and Type II bipolar mood disorders are serious behavioral conditions. Type I is often referred to as ‘manic depression’.

People with Bipolar disorder, Type I have very high and low moods, which are obvious to most clinicians and to those individuals who are close to them. In their high moods, they tend to be overly talkative, hyper; as well as reckless with money, impulsive and they require very little sleep. This mood state will then eventually turn into a deep depression. Generally, people with Type I do not display the anger and rage, which is typical of Type II,” Woulas explained.

But, what are these “missing signs” that parents, educators, the medical and mental health community are missing? Woulas details, “Parents who observe their child is easily angered with a bad temper should consider this a major indicator. Now I am not referring to the ‘terrible twos’ or the ‘trying threes’. At theses ages it is common to see a tantrum when the child gets frustrated. It’s when these tantrums turn into rages and continues well past the ages of four. The young child will appear moody, cry easily at times and becomes easily agitated or angered when ordinary limits and discipline are imposed. But it always goes back to the rages and potentially violent or abusive behaviors, which are the hallmarks of Bipolar Disorder Type II.”

It has only been recent that the psychiatric community started recognizing Bipolar as a spectrum-disorder, but there is still a lack of awareness among medical and mental health professionals. Woulas explains that several different conditions could exist simultaneously with Bipolar Disorder Type II, such as substance abuse and attention deficit disorder. Or in Van der Sloot’s case, the mood disorder could be discovered along with antisocial behaviors. The key behavior, in this case that was not addressed, was emerging volatility. “The anger and rage can become a steady emotional state which remains just under the surface. Many externalize the rage through violence; others internalize the rage or take it out on themselves. They generally engage in very self-destructive behaviors as a way of dealing with the anger and rage,” says Woulas.

Because there are so many misdiagnoses that exist, Woulas has stepped up his advocacy to help educate people about the differences between the two types of bipolar disorders. “The biggest misconception is that these violent acts against families and society are not considered to be part of Type II bipolar disorder. It is misdiagnosed because there is often too much focus on the detection of mania symptoms by clinicians. Patients with type II have, as a rule, very low manic traits. The cycling of mood is more associated with anger, rage and depression than those with mania and depression. So the whole issue of a person’s volatility being a bipolar problem is many times mistakenly removed from the equation. Thus, all the rage and violence continues against innocent people including close associates, family members and the final act of violence which becomes suicide,” stressed Woulas.

As a psychotherapist, Woulas has witnessed first hand how patients with the correct diagnosis, medication, and therapy have learned to regulate their moods, contain and redirect their rage and anger in more positive ways. It is also possible that someone, even like Van der Sloot, with correct early intervention may not have spiraled out of control. There is no guarantee, but for many families that deal with violence and abuse, education and more understanding about Bipolar Disorder Type II may save lives. “I use the phrase anger, rage and emotional volatility as a subtitle to my new book, ‘The Ticking Time Bomb,’ which offers an excellent description of all the signs, symptoms and family experiences associated with Bipolar Disorder Type II. Individuals and loved ones can also go to our website, which has been created specifically to help those with Bipolar Disorder Type II and their families,” exclaims Woulas. Those interested in purchasing Woulas’s new book can find a link to the publisher on his website.

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Actor Mel Gibson’s Vitriolic Rant, Was He a Ticking Time Bomb Waiting to Self-Destruct?

By Mary Nelson-Haffner

Celebrities, public officials and politicians’ lives imploding before our eyes have prompted an avalanche of opinions in coffee shops, on the airwaves and in website chat rooms around the blogosphere. Another popular celebrity that publicly self-destructed this year is Academy Award winning director and a-list actor, Mel Gibson. No stranger to controversy, his career had already survived and rehabbed from a racist and anti-semantic diatribe he went on years ago after a DUI arrest.

The latest controversy involved leaked audiotapes to an entertainment website, that involved an argument between Gibson and his former Russian girlfriend, and mother of his young child, Oksana Grigorieva. The firestorm of reactions to his latest verbal eruption has people wondering if there is a disturbing mental illness that was responsible for igniting his deeply embedded fury. Millions listened to the profanity filled-rants on TV shows, cable, and radio, online and in youtube clips. The news media was abuzz with debates over whether his career has seen its final act.

Most disturbing in his tirade is alleged domestic abuse and violent warnings that were made to Greigorieva that involve vulgar verbal assaults and death threats. Gibson’s actions have prompted a formal criminal investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and prosecutors. In the tapes, it is alleged that he hit Grigorieva in the face, breaking the veneers on her teeth, and hit her once while she was holding their baby. Some domestic abuse advocates are cheering that Grigorieva was smart enough to get her verbal threats and abuse documented, and most importantly, reported to the authorities.

Unfortunately, the horrific exchange, played for the world to hear, is for some families a painful, yet familiar soundtrack they experience first-hand behind closed doors in homes across the country. In many domestic violence altercations, often that involve substance abuse, the result is violent beatings, prison sentences and death. In Gibson’s recent rampage, many professionals have speculated whether his actions were the result of a bipolar condition that was not being treated or out of control. In a 2008 report in the Sydney Morning Herald they quote Gibson in a 2002 documentary as saying, “I recently found out I’m manic depressive.” Gibson has also gone on record as saying he started abusing alcohol at the age of 13. Many would take that to conclude his problems stem from alcohol abuse and impulsive, destructive behavior. However, if that becomes the last line to this media story, keen mental health observers claim there are underlying issues that need and beg to be explored.

As armchair counselors debated on their blogs as to whether Gibson is really bipolar or a misogynistic, racist jerk, professional psychologists and psychiatrists preferred to hone in on his history and behavior, that often reveals more telling signs. As mental health writer and bipolar sufferer, John McManamy wrote on his blog, “Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose, particularly because those with the illness tend to feel great when they’re manic, oblivious when those around them think they’re behaving like jerks. It is even harder for celebrities to be diagnosed because many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, excessive spending, drug/alcohol abuse, promiscuity and arrogance are prevalent in Hollywood anyway.”

Most people believe that a diagnosis of being “bipolar,” is someone with an illness where the person or patient flips back and forth between contrasting or “polar” opposite moods, often referred to as euphoric or dysphonic states. One would also assume someone in that much mental disorder would be easy to spot and have difficulty functioning. If someone like Mel Gibson is bipolar, how could he have been named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man in America” in 1985, or chosen along with Michael Moore as Time Magazine’s “Men of the Year” in 2004, and generously donate millions of dollars
to philanthropic organizations around the world. How could he have held it together this long to run a successful movie production studio, win a coveted Academy Award as well as produce, direct, and star in movies that have grossed over two billion dollars in the U.S. alone.

Southwest Florida psychotherapist, Dr. Michael J. Woulas, Ph.D. would say that much of the symptoms of bipolar disorders are misunderstood, and sadly misdiagnosed a large majority of the time. While patients suffering from Bipolar Disorder, Type I often have major coping problems in life, those with Type II are high-functioning in some areas of their lives, or their illness is often not discovered until traumatic events lead to troubles with the law, domestic and substance abuse, as well as mental breakdowns. Woulas is trying to educate and advocate more understanding about mental health disorders, how they lead to abuse and violence in our society, and more specifically explain how bipolar needs to be viewed more as a spectrum disorder, as many professionals are now doing with Autism.

In a 2008 American Psychological Association symposium, Frederick Goodwin MD, former head of the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), observed that clinicians are now seeing patients in states “altered by antidepressants.” The symposium reported that general practitioners write eighty-six percent of antidepressant scripts. Moreover, fifty percent of those with bipolar have been misdiagnosed by their psychiatrists. It is these misdiagnoses that exacerbate the public’s understanding of bipolar disorders.

Woulas has recently authored a book about the often little known diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, Type II. His book is titled, “The Ticking Time Bomb.” The subtitle reads, “for the anger, rage, and emotional volatility of Bipolar Disorder, Type II patients & their families.” I think there would be little argument among the public that Gibson, along with other public figures lives were ticking towards self-destruction. The problem is for the millions of people and families trying to get help that are not surrounded by Hollywood handlers. These people and their loved ones need compassion, information, treatment, and direction. Woulas, who treats many patients suffering from bipolar or other mental health disorders also launched a companion website for his book called, On the website, people can get information on the symptoms and treatment for Bipolar Disorder, Type II and visitors to the site can link directly to the publisher to purchase a copy of his new book.

To understand this condition, Woulas explains some of the common misconceptions surrounding this disorder, and how we can draw some parallels from Gibson’s troubles to many others facing these problems out of the public eye. Many with bipolar symptoms use alcohol or other substances to deal with their disorder. One question is why self-medication through alcohol and drugs is so commonly used by patients, and what problems result when people develop addictions along with their disorder? “Self-medication is common due to a person that is misdiagnosed. This often leads to incorrect medication prescribed that does not treat the underlying bipolar mood condition. Symptoms become magnified due to the use of substances. For example, increased anger, rage and abuse (both emotional and physical) occur following substance abuse. At this stage, those seeking help may be treated for what is referred to as a dual diagnosis,” says Woulas.

When a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder, Type II experiences impulsivity and launches into rages, their belief structure or negative emotions become amplified. Woulas strongly suggests, “if someone in a domestic, or personal relationship with a loved one who is possibly suffering from a bipolar disorder, and they encounter the person acting irrationally or with hostility, they should remove themselves from the situation to avoid injuries or some catastrophic event from taking place.”

“Paranoia, and a tendency to blame others is also a symptom of Bipolar Disorder, Type II, since the ‘stressors’ triggering anger and rage come from external events. The patients automatically blame others for their innate symptoms,” says Woulas. A person that is correctly diagnosed should receive psychotherapy from a trained therapist, familiar with type II bipolar disorders, to improve their psychological health, as well as learn how to regulate their moods and develop new coping mechanisms.

Woulas points out, “many people with depression could actually be suffering from Bipolar Disorder, Type II. The treatment and medications could be different for those not correctly identified. Generally an antidepressant is used to help with the depression phase, and a mood stabilizer is often added to help with hypomania, irritability, and rage symptoms.” This disorder can also develop in childhood, with some in the medical community missing the signs. “It is often confused with ADD/ADHD and other behavioral problems of childhood and adolescence. That is why parents, families, and pediatricians, as well as school counselors, teachers, and administrators should become more educated about the disorder,” stressed Woulas.

As a practicing psychotherapist, treating patients for over thirty years, Woulas has witnessed and helped people who have lost years of their life because they were not correctly diagnosed, and he is now actively working to educate families about Bipolar Disorder, Type II. “The fact that families and individual lives are being destroyed in epic proportions from a correctable mood disorder is very frustrating, and it motivated me to write the book and create the website,” exclaims Woulas. It is important to note that many people with the appropriate medication and psychotherapy can achieve happiness and health if they get the correct therapy.

“It is important that primary care practitioners, people working in the judicial system, community mental health agency workers, domestic violence shelters, human resource directors and the media become aware and educated about this disorder to help prevent the aftermath and societal consequences that can result from a person’s anger, rage and emotional volatility if it goes untreated,” exclaimed Woulas.

For more information about Bipolar Disorder, Type II, you can purchase Dr. Woulas’s book, “The Ticking Time Bomb” through a link on his website, The website also has helpful knowledge about the disorder, and ways to recognize the symptoms.

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