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Bipolar disorder, also known as the bipolar effective disorder has been identified as a psychological disorder that is characterized by episodes of mood swings, hyperactivity among other instabilities of a normal functioning body. Historically, the disorder was referred to as the manic depression disorder.
The disorder is known to start exhibiting its traits at around the age of fifteen, but its full-blown syndrome exhibit themselves either at late adolescence or in early adulthood. Sometimes, those affected with this disorder can express levels of elevated moods where a person can have extra energy for a particular activity.
Those who experience mania or hyper mania in cases where the levels of mood elevation are too high also suffer from periods of depressions that sometimes follow the periods of elevated moods. This instability in emotions make bipolar disorder to have divergent views as far as its recognition is concerned.
It also leads to increased risks among those affected as the situations of mood swings, either to the hyperactivity or to the depressive states, leads to unstable decisions made by an actor. This indicates the severity of this disorder.
Bipolar disorder has been classified into three categories, Bipolar disorder type I, Bipolar disorder type II and the final type of the disorder being the cyclothymia, a type that involves less severe mood swings. Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder type one are said to have suffered at least one major episode of depression.
Due to this requirement for the definition of bipolar type I disorder, it was historically known as the manic depression. Those diagnosed with bipolar type II disorder are those who had never suffered from a full manic episode or depression. However, such persons are said to have experienced periods characterized with high energy levels as well as impulses that cannot be classified as severe as those experienced by type I patients.
Cyclothymia on the other hand is mild in nature as it involves less severe mood swings. Those diagnosed with this disorder are characterized by alternating periods of hypomania and mild depression. Due to their mild nature, bipolar disorder type II cyclothymia can be confused to people suffering from depression.
Due to its severity, the confusion surrounding its identification, its misunderstanding in the society, lack of clear understanding of how it is acquired, its prevalence in the society among many other factors associated with the disease, bipolar disorder is a heavily researched topic. In his attempt to show the causes of this disease, Miklowitz, (2010), asserts that causes of bipolar disorder are genetic in nature.
This school of thought asserts that there are many chromosomal factors that lead to the development of bipolar disorder. However, there are no conclusive studies to link the issue of bipolar disorder to genetic inheritance.
Nevertheless, some genetic factors have been identified as the main causes of the bipolar disorder. Mondimore, (2006), argues that there are little indicators to show that the issue of bipolar disorder is caused by heterogeneous factors. One of such factors, according to Yatham & Maj, (2011), is the advanced paternal age which affects the offspring sired.
Contrary to issue of genetics, Yatham & Maj, (2011), asserts that bipolar disorder is caused by physiological factors. This involves some abnormalities in the way some of the brain circuits work. However, opponents of this view argue that the differences that are recorded in the brain circuits of those suffering from the bipolar disorder are not the causal factors, but are the products of the disease itself.
This means that it is the presence of the bipolar disorder that alters the functioning of the brain circuits as opposed to the brain circuits leading to the presence of the disease. The final factor that is given to the possible causes of the bipolar disorder is the environmental factor.
According to Mondimore, (2006), environmental factors may interact with other factors such as the genetic factors to trigger the disease. While it is true that the environmental factors can be triggering factors for the disease, there is no enough evidence to show how environmental factors act as the causal factors.
Just like it is hard to know the exact causes of the bipolar disorder, it is very hard to diagnose whether one has the disease or not. As noted by Miklowitz, (2010), one of the major reasons why the disease is hard to diagnose is because there are no set symptoms that characterize it.
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This means that symptoms that may be viewed as being those of bipolar disorder may vary from one society to the other hence jeopardizing the quest of the concerned stakeholders to come up with a universal diagnosis. Lack of universally accepted symptoms of the psychological disease further contributes to wrong diagnosis hence affecting the quality of attention given to those who are classified as affected.
Another major weakness as far as diagnosis of the situation is concerned has been identified by Mondimore, (2006), who notes that it may take up to ten years before a correct diagnosis is given. In most cases, those affected by this disorder may end up being classified as patients of severe depression of hyperactivity.
When such wrong diagnoses are given, the patients are further affected in the sense that they are given medications that ate not meant to treat their problem. This affects the quality of healing experienced by the patients. For instance, when patients of bipolar disorder are treated for severe depression, their chances for recurrence of the depressive state increase due to the wrong diagnosis.
Bipolar disorder is also known to trigger the urge for substance abuse. This further affects the process of diagnosis as most professionals, family members and other caregivers may associate periods of hyperactivity or depression with the effects of the substances being abused by the patients.’
This makes Mountain, (2003), to argue that the main problem that makes it hard to diagnose bipolar disorder in its early stages is that it often triggers many other incidences that may interfere with the ability of the health professionals to suspect its presence. He further notes that bipolar disorder is manifested by signs and symptoms that are associated with many other psychological effects that have a higher prevalence in the society hence the higher chances for a wrong diagnosis.
As far as treatment is concerned, Castle & Peter, (2002), note that there is no a directly known treatment for the disease. However, patients of bipolar disorder can receive medical attention that can help them maintain their mood swings. David, (2008), further notes that the fact that the disorder is life-long necessitates a lifelong treatment.
However, it is important to note that even where there is medication, not everyone responds to medication effectively. In such cases, the patients are put under various medications to ensure that the best treatment is established. Among the common treatments associated with this disorder are the mood stabilizers.
This is often the very first option for treating bipolar disorder. Patients who are given this form of treatment normally continue with it for years. Most of these mood stabilizers are also anticonvulsants that can be used to treat seizers.
The first mood stabilizer to be medically accepted by the relevant licensing body for the treatment of bipolar disorder was lithium, the only stabilizer that does not fall under the category of anticonvulsants. Other forms of treatment associated with this disorder include the atypical antipsychotic medications and the Antidepressant medications. In most cases, these medications are taken together with mood stabilizers.
The effects of bipolar disorder to the patient’s way of life cannot be ignored. As far as daily life is concerned, the disease has tremendous effects to the quality of decisions taken by the patients. As already noted, the disease triggers the urge for drug abuse which has a tremendous effect to the quality of life.
The disease is also associated with issues of alternating mood swings which makes the patients unpredictable and misunderstood by those within their environment, especially if such people have little knowledge of the effects of the disease. Patients can also result to irrational decisions that can have dangerous effects to their social life.
Such irrational acts may include promiscuity which may endanger the life of such patients, or irrational spending sprees that may jeopardize the financial stability of the patients. At the workplace, patients can find it hard to concentrate in their work especially during periods of mania or other forms of depression.
This jeopardizes the productivity of such patients that may result to disciplinary actions or even termination. This further exacerbates the disease as such environmental factors can further trigger periods of severe depression.
Periods of hyperactivity are also detrimental at the workplace. As noted by Mondimore, (2006), one of the major symptoms for a period of hyperactivity is unrealistic confidence on self-ability. Such unrealistic self-confidence can make a person at the workplace to undermine the need for teamwork especially if tasks were to be completed with urgency.
This can severely hamper the work relations and to some extent, the withdrawal of the team members at a particular task. When such withdrawal occurs, the patient is left to accomplish the set target alone, which is virtually impossible as the targets were unrealistic in the first place. These further exacerbate chances of the period of hyperactivity being replaced by a period of severe depression.
In conclusion, it is evident that bipolar disorder is a disease that is poorly understood by most facets of the society. Even in the medical realm, the disease still experiences poor understanding in the sense that it is hard for the medics to come up with an effective diagnosis.
The fact that the disease may take up to ten years before a correct diagnosis is made is an indication that there is a need for more efforts to understand bipolar disorder. Above this, there is a need for measures to be put in place to ensure that correct diagnosis is made early enough to eliminate chances of suicide or adoption of different forms of risky behavior such as drug abuse.
Castle, L., R. & Peter, C., M. (2002). Bipolar Disorder Demystified: Mastering the Tightrope of Manic Depression. New York: Da Capo Press.
David, M. (2008). Bipolar disorder: a family-focused treatment approach. New York: Guilford Press.
Miklowitz, D., J. (2010). The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know. Boston: Guilford Press.
Mondimore, F., M. (2006).Bipolar disorder: a guide for patients and families. New York: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Mountain, J. (2003). Bipolar Disorder: Insights for Recovery. Chicago: Chapter One Press.
Yatham, L., N. & Maj, M. (2011). Bipolar Disorder: Clinical and Neurobiological Foundations. 2nd Ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.