Protester Ian Smart displayed signs of bipolar disorder during the Black Lives Matter protest says Dr Dominic Nwokolo, a psychiatrist of Psychiatric Hospital in St Ann’s.
Smart had pulled the hat off a policeman’s head at a Black Lives Matter protest at the Queen’s Park Savannah protest last Monday.
Smart, the son of former Attorney General Anthony Smart, defended his action saying he is bipolar and later on apologized for what he did.
While the policeman faced off with a female protester, Smart grabbed the officer’s hat off his head and raised his middle fingers before running away.
The incident quickly ignited comments across social media from people supporting or criticizing Smart’s actions.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith had taken note of the incident and an investigation has been launched.
Muhammad Muwakil, who was one of the organisers of the demonstration, condemned Smart’s actions saying while he became angered by the policeman’s attempt to film the protesters against their will, he would not have resorted to the violence of any type.
“Definitely, what he did is a symptom of bipolar disorder. Remember, a heightened mood and impulsivity are usually symptoms. They would not think twice before they do what they have to do and they would be excitable. In a situation where there is a riot, this is perfectly suited for the mood for someone who has a manic episode of bipolar disorder. There is also a lack of fear because they feel as if they are privileged at that moment,” Nwokolo said in an interview.
He described bipolar disorder as a mood disorder, in which the person’s mood changes over time, either rapidly or over an extended period of time.
“These moods can be that of depression or having manic episodes at the other extreme. Manic episode means the persons experience an elevated mood and heightened feelings.”
One of the signs of a person displaying bipolar behaviour is someone overestimating their abilities in which they feel they have more power than they really have, Nwokolo said.
Erratic behavior is also another sign of bipolar disorder.
Someone who has become too talkative or making jokes that are uncharacteristic is yet another sign of bipolar behaviour.
According to statistics he gave, between oneper cent to three per cent of T&T’s population suffers from this disorder.
He said in T&T it is usually a disease that affects the late adolescent to early adult demographic.
He added there is no cure for bipolar disorder however it can be controlled.
“The patient can be treated with medication and clinical follow up and observation to be able to detect relapses. These mood disorders tend to be a little more difficult to treat than when someone has major depression.”
His advice for persons who have friends or family members with this disorder is to get treatment for them and monitor them regularly.
“Monitor them regularly, make them that they are always treated as they need more supervision than any other member of the family. The issue with this is that they do not feel unwell, they think that they feel well. They think that they are at their best. Some of them may not be compliant with their medication. These persons must also avoid drug abuse such as Marijuana and Cocaine or alcohol,” he said.
Signs of Bipolar disorder
According to the American Psychiatric Association, signs of Bipolar 1 Disorder include dramatic mood swings. During a manic episode, people with bipolar I disorder may feel high and on top of the world, or uncomfortably irritable and “revved up.“ During a depressive episode, they may feel sad and hopeless. There are often periods of normal moods in between these episodes. Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when a person has a manic episode.
Bipolar 11 Disorder involves a person having at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode. People return to the usual function between episodes. People with bipolar II often first seek treatment because of depressive symptoms, which can be severe. People with bipolar II often have other co-occurring mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder or substance use disorder.