Bipolar disorder is a medical condition characterized by unusual shifts in one’s mood, activity levels, energy, and the ability to undertake various tasks (Mondimore 21). The condition is also known as manic-depressive illness. Individuals suffering from this health problem are always unpredictable even to themselves. Sometimes they may be very happy, cheerful, and energetic. In other instances, they become sad, reserved, and unwilling to undertake their daily activities without a clear cause. In this paper, the researcher seeks to analyze types, causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of bipolar disorder.
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Types of Bipolar Disorder
According to Whitton et al., bipolar disorder can be classified into four basic categories (10). They include the following:
Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar I disorder is characterized by extreme cases of manic episodes (when one is elated, energized, and happy) that lasts over seven days. During that time, a person may experience happiness whose source cannot be explained. In some cases, the patient may also experience depressive episodes which can sometimes be suicidal. The condition may need urgent medical attention, especially it is evident that the patient becomes suicidal.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II disorder is less extreme compared to Bipolar I disorder. It is characterized by depressive episodes that may last a few hours. Sometimes patients with this condition may not realize that they have a problem. It can be addressed through counseling, especially if it is caused by psychological trauma.
Cyclothymia is a condition where a patient experiences numerous manic episodes and depressive symptoms for over 2 years (Strakowski 41). The two extremes may not be very severe and can easily be ignored. However, it may need some form of treatment.
Other Types of Bipolar
In some cases, a patient may experience bipolar symptoms that cannot be classified into any of the above three categories. The intensity and time it takes before it resolves may determine the urgency with which it should be treated.
Causes of Bipolar Disorder
According to Mondimore, there is no single cause of bipolar disorder (45). Genetics is one of the known causes of this condition. People with specific genes are more likely to experience this medical problem than others. That is why the problem sometimes runs in families. A child is likely to inherit the condition if either of the parents had a similar problem. Environmental factors such as trauma during childhood may also cause this problem. In some rare cases, neurological injury or condition such as HIV infection, stroke, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and porphyria may also cause bipolar disorder (Landau 42). Some medical experts believe that temporal lose epilepsy is also a risk factor.
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Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder vary depending on the type. People suffering from manic episodes are always elated, with lots of energy and increased levels of activity (Mondimore 78). They talk a lot about many issues, feel agitated, overestimate their capabilities, and sometimes engage in risky activities. They may also have problems sleeping. Patients suffering from depressive episodes often feel empty, sad, and hopeless. They have little energy and experience decreased levels of activity. They tend to be forgetful, slow, and find trouble concentrating on specific activities. Some of them may embrace suicidal thoughts.
When a person believes that he or she is suffering from bipolar disorder, the first step is to see a doctor. A psychiatrist will conduct a mental health evaluation to determine if one has the condition. Of interest to the psychiatrist would be the existence of intense moods. The doctor will inquire about past illnesses, physical injuries on the head, or family history of the disease.
Treatment and Therapies
When one is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is important to seek medical attention to gain control of their mood swings and related symptoms. According to Landau, psychotherapy is one of the most common approaches that are often used to manage the condition (31). A psychiatrist gets to talk with the patient to understand the source of the problem and understand how best they can overcome the problem. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and family-focused therapy are some of the approaches that may be used depending on the nature of the problem. A patient may also use antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or atypical antipsychotics. For patients having difficulties falling asleep, a doctor may prescribe sleep medications.
Bipolar disorder is a common medical condition that many people often ignore. It makes it difficult for the affected person to control feelings such as happiness and sadness. People suffering from manic episodes experience unexplained happiness and high energy that make them overestimate their capabilities. On the other hand, people having depressive episodes often feel sad and hopeless. They may develop suicidal thoughts because of the intense emotional pain they go through. In both cases, a person acts weirdly and may easily harm self. It is important to seek medical attention when one is diagnosed with this condition.
Landau, Jennifer. Bipolar Disorder. Rosen Digital, 2014.
Mondimore, Francis. Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
Strakowski, Stephen. Bipolar Disorder. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Whitton, Alexis et al. “Reward Processing Dysfunction in Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.” Current Opinion in Psychiatry, vol. 28, no. 1, 2015, pp. 7–12.