A Reflective Paper On Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar is a condition known as manic-depressive disorder, which referred to as bipolar or manic depression, a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more abnormal episodes. An estimated 15-20% of patients who suffer from bipolar disorder and who do not receive medical attention commit suicide. Bipolar disorder is a very dangerous illness that is often over looked. Although many people may assume that bipolar disorder is just a person’s personality fluctuating between highs and lows, there is much more to this disease. Bipolar disorder is a complex physiological and psychological disorder that can influence and manipulate a person’s thoughts and actions in their daily life.

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Bipolar elevated moods are symptoms of mania or milder hypomania. Individuals who experience manic episodes have both mania and depression present at the same time. These episodes are usually separated by periods of “normal “mood; but, in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate, which is known as rapid cycling. Feldman, R.S 2009.

In addition, extreme manic episodes can sometimes lead to psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. Depression phase of bipolar disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and loss of appetite and interest in usually enjoyable activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or loss of interest in sexual activity, and chronic pain. John M. Grohol.Psy.D.

However, one of the possible causes of bipolar disorder is altered levels of neurotransmitters, chemicals that cause reactions in the brain. According to Psych-Central, neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine may be the cause of bipolar disorder, as these chemicals are associated with different moods. There are imbalances of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that causes the extreme mood changes associated with bipolar disorder, including severe depression and mania. However, a neurotransmitter imbalance is likely not the only cause of bipolar disorder. The Mayo Clinic 1998-2010 reports that environmental factors or hormonal changes may trigger this imbalance.

Another potential cause of bipolar disorder is altered brain structure. The Mayo Clinic1998-2010 reports that images taken of the brain of people with bipolar disorder are often structurally different from the brains of healthy individuals. The National Institute of Mental Health 1995-2010 reports that these structural changes are similar to those seen in people with other related mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia and multidimensional impairment. These changes in the brain’s structure may begin to develop as early as childhood. In fact, similar genetic factors are associated with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Brain structure alone may not be the cause of bipolar disorder, but it can predispose a person to the mental illness.

The difficulties of bipolar disorder causes the brain to react differently, brain imaging studies reported that during periods of depression, the prefrontal cortex in the brain has shown to function abnormally in brain scan images. This was a dramatic change from the images of the brains of people in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, which showed an abnormally high metabolism throughout the whole brain. Over time, bipolar disorder may permanently affect the brain. However, people with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings. They can go from feeling very sad, despairing, helpless, worthless, and hopeless (depression) to feeling as if they are on top of the world, hyperactive, creative, and grandiose (mania). Both mania and depression sometimes occur together that causes “mixed state bipolar disorder. The extremes of mood usually occur in cycles. In between these mood swings, people with bipolar disorder are unable to function normally, hold a job, and have a normal family life. The episodes of mood swings tend to become closer together with age. When a person is in the grip of this disease, chaos can occur. Bipolar disorder can cause major disruption of family and finances, loss of job, and marital problems.

Severe depression can be life threatening. It may be associated with thoughts of suicide, actual acts of suicide, and even acts of homicide in some cases. Extreme mania can lead to aggressive behavior, potentially dangerous risk-taking behaviors, and homicidal acts. A number of people with bipolar disorder may turn to drugs and alcohol to “self-treat” their emotional disorder, resulting in dependence for substance abuse.

Most people start showing signs of bipolar disorder in their late teens (the average age of onset is 21 years). These signs are dismissed as “growing pains” or normal teenage behavior. On occasion, some people have their first symptoms during childhood, but the condition can often be misdiagnosed at this age and improperly labeled as a behavioral problem. Bipolar disorder may not be properly diagnosed until the sufferer is 25-40 years of age, at which the time pattern of symptoms may become clearer.

Consequently, bipolar disorder occurs in both men and women. About 5.7 million people in the United States have the disorder. Because of the extreme and risky behavior that goes with bipolar disorder, it is very important that the disorder be identified. With proper and early diagnosis, this mental condition can be treated. Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that will require proper management for the duration of a person’s life.1 Bipolar I Disorder involves one or more manic or mixed episodes, and often one or more major depressive episodes. A depressive episode may last for several weeks or months. Between episodes, a person may function normally.

Bipolar II Disorder involves one or more major depressive episodes along with at least one hypomania episode. Hippomanic episodes have symptoms similar to manic episodes, but are less severe. Between episodes, a person may function normally. Symptoms may also be related to seasonal changes the same as bipolar I. However, multipolar disorder is a mental disorder, which includes a broad range of intense and sometimes violent emotions. Multipolar disorder is marked, by frequently reoccurring episodes of catatonia, melancholia, psychotic depression, mania, and hypomania. Characteristics of Multipolar disorder are intensity and frequency of emotional outbursts and grandiose behavior. This disorder is the classic high/low pattern, alternating frequently between emotional extremes to the point of delusion.

In addition, Grandiosity is a multipolar personality who feels extreme love and goodness one minute and intense anger the next minute. These frequent and intense emotional episodes take their toll on family, friends, and co-workers. The intensities of emotion in the multipolar personality can lead to extreme behavior patterns and addictions. These may include but are not limited: heavy drinking, drug abuse, high-risk promiscuous sex, over-eating, spending sprees, workaholic, and fighting in general. The course of bipolar II disorder is different from that of bipolar I disorder or multipolar depression, with distinct differences in rates of recovery, clinical features, and number of episodes.

The risk of suicide appears to be particularly elevated. High rates of co morbid disorders have been reported, including substance abuse dependence, and, anxiety disorders or personality disorders. Few definitive studies exist on which to base conclusions about the differential efficacy of various treatment strategies in bipolar II disorder and bipolar I disorder. Preliminary studies suggest that the newer anticonvulsants may be of benefit for patients with bipolar II disorder, while other psychologist suggests that there may be a greater role for antidepressant medications.

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However, medical evidence has shown that patients with bipolar disorder have higher death rates from suicide, heart problems, and death from all causes. Patients who get treatment, however, experience great improvement in survival rates. The risk for suicide is very high in patients who suffer from bipolar disorder and who do not receive medical attention. Between 10 – 15% of patients with bipolar disorder commit suicide, with the risks being highest during episodes of depression or mixed mania. Some studies suggest that the risk for suicide in patients with bipolar disorder II is even higher than it is for those with bipolar disorder I. Patients, who also suffer from an anxiety disorder, are also at greater risk for suicide.

Many pre- and early adolescent children with bipolar disorder are more severely ill than adults with the disease. According to a 2001 study, 25% of children with bipolar disorder are seriously suicidal. They have a higher risk for mixed mania, multiple and frequent cycles, and a long duration of illness without well periods. Therefore, patients do not manifest their negative behaviors such as spending sprees or even becoming verbally or physically abusive. They have a direct effect on others around them. It is very difficult for even the most loving of families or caregivers to be sympathetic with an individual who periodically and unexpectedly creates chaos around them. Many patients and their families find it difficult to accept that these episodes are part of an illness and are not normal, characteristics. Patients who are highly articulate, and who can intelligently justify their destructive behavior, not only to others, but also to themselves, often strengthen such denial. Family members may also feel socially alienated by the fact of having a relative with this mental illness, and feel forced to conceal this information from their acquaintances.

Consequently, Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Researchers have identified a number of genes that may be linked to this disorder, suggesting that several different biochemical problems may occur in bipolar disorder. Like complex inherited disorders, bipolar disorder only occurs in a fraction of the individuals at genetic risk. For example, if an individual has bipolar disorder and his or her spouse does not, there is only a one in seven chance that their child will develop it. The chance may be greater if you have a greater number of relatives with bipolar disorder or depression.

On the other hand, Bipolar disorder can look very different in certain people. The symptoms vary widely in their pattern, severity, and frequency. Some people are more prone to either mania or depression, while others alternate equally between the two types of episodes. Some have frequent mood disruptions, while others experience only a few over a lifetime. Signs and symptoms of mania, manic phase of bipolar disorder, feelings of heightened energy, creativity, and euphoria are common. People experiencing a manic episode often talk a mile a minute, sleep very little, and are hyperactive. They may also feel like they are all-powerful, invincible, or destined for greatness.

However, mania feels good at first; it has a tendency to spiral out of control. People often behave recklessly during a manic episode: gambling away savings, engaging in inappropriate sexual activity, or making foolish business investments. For example. They may also become angry, irritable, and aggressive-picking fights, lashing out when others do not go along with their plans, and blaming anyone who criticizes their behavior. Some people even become delusional or start hearing voices. In the past, bipolar depression was lumped in with regular depression. However, a growing body of research suggests that there are significant differences between the two, especially when it comes to recommended treatments. Most people with bipolar depression are not helped by antidepressants. In fact, there is a risk that antidepressants can make bipolar disorder worse triggering mania or hypomania, causing rapid cycling between mood states, or interfering with other mood stabilizing drugs.

Despite many similarities, certain symptoms are more common in bipolar depression than in regular depression. For example, bipolar depression is more likely to involve irritability, guilt, unpredictable mood swings, and feelings of restlessness. People with bipolar depression also tend to move and speak slowly, sleep a lot, and gain weight. In addition, they are more likely to develop psychotic depression-a condition in which they have lost contact with reality-and to experience major disability in work and social functioning. Common signs of a mixed episode include depression combined with agitation, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, distractibility, and racing thoughts. This combination of high energy and low mood is a particularly high risk of suicide

Therefore, Bipolar disorder requires long-term treatment. Since bipolar disorder is a chronic, relapsing illness, it is important to continue treatment even when you are feeling better. Most people with bipolar disorder need medication to prevent new episodes. There is more to treatment than medication. Medication alone is usually not enough to fully control the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The most effective treatment strategy for bipolar disorder involves a combination of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and social support.

In addition, it is best to work with an experienced psychiatrist; bipolar disorder is a complex condition. Diagnosis can be tricky, and treatment is often difficult. For safety reasons, medications should be closely monitored. A psychiatrist who is skilled in bipolar disorder treatment can help you navigate these twists and turns. If you spot the symptoms of bipolar depression in yourself or someone else, do not wait to get help. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away; in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships or to your health. Diagnosing the problem as early as possible and getting treatment can help prevent these complications.

In conclusion, if you are unwilling to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when you are manic; remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you. Bipolar disorder is a complex physiological and psychological disorder that can influence and manipulate a person’s thoughts and actions in their daily life.


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