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Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression


Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by unusual mood changes that shift from manic to depressive extremes. People with the illness experience periods of mania and depression. Depressive episodes involve feelings of lethargy while manic episodes involve hyperactivity and intense feelings of happiness. Symptoms depend on the patient’s mood that usually lasts for a prolonged period. Scientists have not established the precise cause of bipolar disorder yet. However, studies have shown that factors such as environment, neurology, and genetics play important roles in its development. Treatment options include medication and psychotherapy. Studies have shown that the most effective treatment plan encompasses both medication and psychotherapy. Management strategies include lifestyle changes and joining support groups.

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Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that is characterized by unusual mood changes that are either manic or depressive. In the medical field, it is also referred to as a manic depression. People with this illness experience intense feelings of happiness at times and intense feelings f depression at other times. The intense feelings of happiness are referred to as mania and are characterized by intense energy, high irritability, and extreme happiness. The causes of bipolar disorder are not clearly understood. However, scientists have suggested that environment and genetics play important roles in its development. It is estimated that approximately 3 percent of people in the United States suffer this illness in their lifetime.

Signs and Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of intense emotions and usual moods (Leonard & Jovinelly, 2012). The manic and depressive moods are typically different from the highs and lows that people experience in their normal lives. These moods affect sleep patterns and activity levels. Symptoms of manic and depressive episodes vary. People with manic episodes feel extremely happy and energetic, experience trouble sleeping, talk fast, are highly agitated and irritable, multitask, engage in risky behaviors and activities, and they are hyperactive (Leonard & Jovinelly, 2012). On the other hand, people with depressive episodes feel sad and lethargic, sleep too much or too little, experience suicidal thoughts, forget easily, experience feelings of emptiness, and have trouble concentrating.


The exact cause of bipolar disorders has not yet been identified. However, scientists cite genetics, environment, physiology, and neurology as potential risk factors (Strakowski, 2014). Environmental factors such as childhood abuse, long-term stress, abandonment play a key role in its development. The risk of bipolar disorder is high in people whose family has a history of the illness.

Bipolar Spectrum

There are four types of bipolar disorder namely, bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and other unspecified and related disorders (Strakowski, 2014). The four types involve drastic mood and activity level changes. The various types are grouped based on the length of manic episodes that the patient experiences.


The first step toward the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is talking to a health professional who conducts a thorough physical examination to ensure that the signs and symptoms present are not caused by other diseases (Strakowski, 2014). Afterward, the patient is referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for further examination that includes a mental health evaluation to determine whether the patient has the illness. Certain symptoms of bipolar are similar to those of other diseases. In that case, doctors apply differential diagnosis methods. Schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and major depressive disorder have symptoms similar to those of bipolar disorder (Leonard & Jovinelly, 2012). Therefore, differential diagnosis helps doctors rule out other conditions. Blood tests and imaging are used in the differential diagnosis.


The most commonly used treatment remedies include psychotherapy and medication (Marchand, 2012). Studies have shown that an effective treatment plan encompasses both psychotherapy and medication. Medications are used to control symptoms. Commonly sued medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and atypical antipsychotics (Marchand, 2012). Psychotherapy provides guidance, education, and support to patients as well as their families. Major forms of psychotherapy sued to treat bipolar disorder include psychoeducation, family-focused therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) (Yatham & Kusumakar, 2013). Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment therapy that is used when other options fail. Besides, it is used when patients’ situations make the administration of medication risky (Yatham & Kusumakar, 2013).

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Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness that is problematic if not properly managed. Lifestyle change is an important component of management. Patients are advised to make lifestyle changes to eliminate certain behaviors that worsen their condition (Yatham & Kusumakar, 2013). For instance, they are advised to form healthy relationships, create healthy routines, and stop taking alcohol and using recreational drugs (Strakowski, 2014). Also, they are advised to keep a mod chart to monitor their mood changes (Fristad & Arnold, 2012). Other strategies for management include learning about the illness, staying focused on personal goals, joining a support group, finding healthy outlets for stress, and learning how to relax and deal with stress.


A specific method to prevent bipolar disorder is non-existent. However, patients need to seek professional help as soon as they see signs of mental illness. Early treatment and taking medications as directed prevent the illness from worsening (Fristad & Arnold, 2012). Also, an individual needs to pay attention to warning signs. Patients need to develop healthy lifestyles that involve physical exercise and healthy diets. Finally, seeking professional help whenever signs are observed is of utmost importance.


Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects about 3 percent of people in the United States during their lifetime. Scientists have suggested that genetics and the environment are largely responsible for its development. Major symptoms include intense feelings of happiness and sadness, irregular sleep patterns, poor concentration, hyperactivity, fatigue, and irritability. Treatment remedies include psychotherapy and medication. Effective treatment plans include both remedies. Proper management of bipolar disorder includes the embracement of healthy lifestyles, early treatment, and proper nutrition.


Fristad, M. A., & Arnold, G. J. (2012). Raising a moody child: How to cope with depression and bipolar disorder. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Leonard, B., & Jovinelly, J. (2012). Bipolar Disorder. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Marchand, W. (2012). Depression and bipolar disorder: Your guide to recovery. Boulder, CO: Bull Publishing Company.

Strakowski, S. M. (2014). Bipolar disorder. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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Yatham, L. N., & Kusumakar, V. (2013). Bipolar disorder: A clinician’s guide to treatment management. New York, NY: Routledge.

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