Bipolar disorders are in the category of depressive disorders that affect the normal brain functions of an individual. Many people have been diagnosed with depressive disorders. It is approximated that in the U.S. over 17.4 million people experience a form of depressive disorder yearly. This implies that one out of every seven individuals is afflicted with the condition. The people afflicted with bipolar disorders normally experience mood disorders clinically called mania or, if milder, hypomania, and depression.
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Bipolar disorder has a number of alternate names: “manic depression, bipolar, manic-depressive disorder, manic-depressive illness, bipolar mood disorder, and bipolar affective disorder” (The Nemours Foundation, 2010, para. 3). The disorder is categorized into four types: “Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic Disorder, or Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.”
Scientists classify the mental condition into the four forms for the reason that its symptoms vary depending on the particular person. When medical health experts have recognized the form a person has, they are able to modify medication to suit the requirements of the patient. Bipolar disorder does not discriminate.
It affects men and women, every race, and cuts across the socio-economic levels. The condition most of the time shows up during the late teens or early twenties. Nevertheless, studies have indicated that the initial episode of the condition takes place much earlier: the first symptoms are manifested in teenagers, and even kids can start showing symptoms.
Scientists have discovered that children and adolescents afflicted with bipolar disorder do not manifest similar behavioral patterns that adults with the same condition manifest. For instance, children afflicted with the condition may experience one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood together with other mood-related symptoms such as irritability and high levels of anxiety.
However, the children may not experience other symptoms, which are usually more widespread in grown-ups. Since the functions of the brain is involved, the ways patients with the condition think, act, and feel are all impinged on and this can make it particularly hard for normal individuals to understand them.
The victims of the disorder most of the time get frustrated when people fail to appreciate their condition and provide them with help when necessary. The condition is not an indication of weakness or a character flaw. Bipolar disorder is a serious medical condition that needs attention, similar to other conditions (Schwarcz, 2010).
The phenomenon of bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of mania (highs) and depression (lows), which occur at different times. These episodes are not the regular times of joy and sadness that we normally encounter. Instead, the periods are severe mood disorders that elevates continually.
Symptoms of mania include racing speech and thoughts, improved energy, reduced number of sleeping time, elevated mood and exaggerated optimism, lack of good judgment, and reckless behavior. Symptoms of depression include lack of interest in every day activities, prolonged sad or irritable moods, too much sleeping, poor concentration, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and loss of appetite or overeating (National Institute of mental Health, 2009).
In grown-ups, periods of mania or depression most of the time takes place for a number of weeks, even though they can be shorter in length whereas in kids and teenagers these periods are usually shorter. A child or an adolescent is able to go back and forth between mania and depression during the day.
Experiences of mania or depression can take place unevenly and follow an unexpected pattern. Alternatively, the periods can be related, with a manic period that always trails an experience of depression, or vice versa. Occasionally, the periods may take place seasonally, for example, mania in the spring, may be trailed by a depression in the winter.
A number of individuals afflicted with this condition start using alcohol and drugs. They feel temporarily better when they are high but this often leads to disastrous results. The use of alcohol and drugs complicates the condition and makes it difficult for health experts to detect.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is still not known. However, medical experts postulate that the condition is caused by biochemical, hereditary, or environmental factors, or a combination of both. They think that the disorder is due to lack of balance in brain chemicals referred to as neurotransmitters. The imbalance of the neurotransmitters makes the brain’s mood-controlling system to malfunction. Hereditary factors are also attributed to the condition (Soares and Gershon, 2000, p.32).
The chances of an individual developing the disease are higher if someone in the family suffers from the same ailment. However, this does not imply that a person will automatically develop the condition if a family member has bipolar disorder. Scientists are currently studying on the different genes that cause the condition. Environmental factors can also lead to the development of the condition.
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In adolescents, trauma incidences, for example, death of a close relative, divorce in the family, dropping out of school, or other life experiences may facilitate a first period of experiencing mania or depression. At times, undergoing the transformations during adolescence trigger an episode, for example, girls may experience symptoms related to their menstrual cycle.
Diagnosis of bipolar disorder is usually based on self-reported symptoms of the person afflicted. Family and friends may also report abnormal behaviours of the patient. A medical professional finally observes secondary symptoms in a clinical assessment.
Even though there is no specific laboratory test to diagnose the condition, medical examination is usually done to rule out other medical ailments. In the young people, bipolar disorder may be misdiagnosed for other depressive disorders. These include schizophrenia, ADHD, and posttraumatic stress disorder. A complete detailed history is essential to avoid the misdiagnosis.
Even though medical experts have not come up with a cure for bipolar disorder, treatment is usually administered to help alleviate the related symptoms. A treatment plan is usually developed to manage the ailment.
Appropriate medication such as a mood stabilizer provided by a psychiatrist alleviates the mood related symptoms and a psychologist may give counseling or psychotherapy needed. Finally, clinicians may offer any additional medication needed.
Suffering from bipolar disorder is not a death sentence. The indispensable aspect in understanding bipolar disorders is to realize that those who are afflicted with the condition are normal human beings. The only difference is that the patients are affected by a medical condition that deteriorates the normal functioning of the brain.
Treatment and prevention of bipolar disorder is necessary. Making a few lifestyle changes, for example, avoiding stressful situations, having a good meal, and frequent exercise can assist an individual afflicted with the disorder. Joining support groups for individuals with the condition is also helpful.
National Instute of Mental Health. (2010). What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder? Web.
Schwarcz, B. (2010). The Psychology of Bipolar Disorder. Articlesbase. Web.
Soares, J.C. & Gershon, S. (2000).“Bipolar disorders: basic mechanisms and therapeutic implications.” New York: Marcel Dekker.
The Nemours Foundation. (2010). What is bipolar disorder? Web.