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Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment


Bipolar disorder is sometimes referred to as manic-depression. It is a kind of illness that affects the brain causing unusual changes in mood, levels of activities, the state of energy and the capability to handle the daily tasks. It has severe symptoms which are very different from usual on and off that all the people go through time and again (Goodwin, 2007).

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The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can lead to the disruption of relationships, meagre performance in the places of work or at institutions which can then lead to suicide. Nevertheless, bipolar disorder can effectively be treated. As a result, individuals suffering from illness can lead happy lives. In most cases it starts immediately before the age of 25 years. Others can experience their initial symptoms during the early childhood periods or during late life time.

The bipolar disorder is hardly identifiable especially at its onset with the symptoms appearing to be separate problems that are not easily recognized as being parts that comprise the larger problem. Some groups of people suffer from the disorder for several years before proper diagnosis and treatment can be taken. Similarly to diabetes or rather the heart diseases, bipolar disorder is found to be a long-time kind of illness that needs careful management in the entire life of a person.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder

Majority of the people who suffer from bipolar disorder always experience intense emotional conditions that are not usual and they occur in different periods that are referred to as mood episodes. The overexcited condition is referred to as manic episode while the extremely sad condition is considered to be depressive episode. The mood episode sometimes has symptoms such as; mania as well as depression that are referred to as mixed state. The symptoms of explosion and irritation may show up among the individuals suffering from the bipolar disorder, especially during the mood episode (Mueser, 1998).

High levels of changes in activities, energy, behaviours and sleep go hand in hand with the shifts in mood. Chances of individuals having bipolar undergoing long-lasting periods of poor moods which are not stable are always extremely high. It is considered that an individual may have an episode of the bipolar disorder in case that particular person has several depressive symptoms most of the time, more so on daily basis or two weeks. Sometimes the symptoms are very severe to the extent that a person may not function normally in school, at workplace or simply at home (Goodwin, 2007).

The symptoms of a manic episode

Changes in mood

These include the following; the long lasting moment of high feelings and exceeding irritable mood, full of jumpy feelings and agitation.

Behavioural changes

These involve the following;

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  1. Easily distracted
  2. The state of being restless
  3. Faster talking, possession of racing thoughts
  4. Having very little sleep
  5. High-risk behaviours

The symptoms of depressive episode

Mood changes

There are increased moment of worried feelings and the abandoning of activities due to the lost interest especially after the enjoyment in the action.

The behavioural changes

  1. Feeling so tired
  2. Change of the eating and sleeping habits
  3. The state of being restless
  4. Attempting suicide or just thinking about death

Sometimes, an individual with mania episodes which are severe may have psychotic symptoms as well for instance; delusions or rather hallucinations. With psychotic symptoms it means that a person has extreme mood. Other forms of psychotic symptoms which an individuals suffering from the disease include the following: There is always a belief of possessing a huge amount of money; being highly famous and having extraordinary powers.

Similarly, an individual with a depressive episode is most likely to believe that she or he has been destroyed and is very penniless. As a result, a person having the disorder and who has psychotic signs is not diagnosed in the proper way. People who have bipolar disorder have been identified with behavioural problems. Sometimes they may be found to abuse alcohol, undergo some relationships difficulties and perform very in school or rather at workplaces. Initially, recognizing some of these problems as being signs for this main mental illness is very hard (Goodwin. 2007).

How bipolar disorder affect people

Both the male as well as female are affected by bipolar disorder. In the majority of the people, the initial symptoms turn up in their beginning of twenties. Though, it has been discovered that the initial bipolar disorder episode actually occurs earlier. In case the episode is frequently diagnosed within the adolescence period and in children may result into the disorder.

It has been recently argued that children and teens that are affected by the bipolar disorder they normally have no similar behavioural patterns unlike which is in the adults with same attack of the disorder. For instance, those kids that do have bipolar disorder are most likely to experience quick mood changes with additional of other mood-associated symptoms such as; increased level of anxiety and irritability. However, they are found not show some other symptoms that are frequently experienced in adults.

Due to the insolvents of the brain, the ways individuals with bipolar disorder act, feel and think they are entirely affected. This is considered to be difficult more so for individuals to comprehend their conditions (Mueser, 1998). It may be found to be exceedingly frustrating in case other people behave as if a person with bipolar disorder is expected to instantly come out of the problem. Bipolar disorder is actually not taken as a sign of character flaw, but as a critical medical condition which in actual sense requires treatment, simply like the rest of conditions. The following are the major types of the bipolar disorders;

Bipolar Disorder I

It is basically defined by the mixed episodes which last for seven days. Usually, the individual with this type of disorder is found to have depressive episodes that last for a minimum of two weeks. Depression is found to be the main change from the normal behaviour of an individual with bipolar disorder I.

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Bipolar Disorder II

This is defined by the depressive episodes changing from time to time with episodes of hypomanic, but there are no mixed episodes.

Bipolar Disorder with no specification

The diagnosis of the disease is done when an individual having the disease is having symptoms which cannot fulfil the diagnostic requirements for both bipolar II or rather bipolar I. These symptoms are most likely not to last for a longer period of time and sometimes there may be very few symptoms within a person that can be diagnosed with either bipolar I or bipolar II.

The Cyclothymic Disorder

This is also known as the Cyclothymia Disorder. Cyclothymic Disorder is considered to be a calm type of the bipolar disorder. Individuals having the disorder in most cases have hypomania episodes which change with time and also with the mild depression for a minimum of two years. Nevertheless, the signs in most cases do not always attain the diagnostic requirements for the other forms of bipolar disorder.

Rapid-cycling form of bipolar is a condition when there are four or rather more types of episodes such as; mania, mixed symptoms, depression or hypomania that are diagnosed in a person with this disorder.

Rapid cycling tends to be very common among those people who severely suffer from bipolar disorder. It was discovered that individuals with the rapid cycling experienced their initial episode some four years of its early occurence, which was between during mid and late teens of age that is totally different from people without this king of disorder. Rapid cycling is found to be more common with women than with men (Schneck, 2008).

Illness which co-exist with the bipolar disorder

Substance abuse is found to be very common among the people suffering from bipolar disorder. Some individuals with bipolar disorder may decide to overcome their symptoms through the use drugs. However, with substance abuse the symptoms of bipolar disorder may be triggered that may as well result into difficulties in behavioural control which may be related to mania (Bizzarri, 2007).

A good number of disorders of anxiety for example social phobia as well as post-traumatic stress takes place among individuals having bipolar disorder. In addition, this disorder co-occur the attention deficit kind of hyperactivity disorder that has symptoms which overlap with the bipolar disorder like; ease of being distracted and restlessness (Strakowski, 1998).

Bipolar disorder diagnosis

The preliminary steps aimed at accomplishing proper diagnosis of the bipolar disorder involve a discussion with the medical practitioner who does the interview as well the lab tests together with physical examinations. Presently, it is not possible to diagnose the disorder through blood test and brain scan. Nonetheless, the test can help in averting the contributing factors such as stroke and brain tumor. The medical practitioner is entitled to give referral to an expert in mental health such as a qualified psychiatrist who is highly experienced in diagnosis and bipolar disorder treatment (Krishnan, 2005).

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People faced with bipolar disorder seek support especially when they seem to be depressed than at the time of hypomania experience. Therefore, medical history that is very careful is required to correctly explain the diagnosis of bipolar disorder as a main depressive order (Krishnan, 2005).

The treatment of bipolar disorder

Due to long-lasting and the recurrence of the illness of bipolar disorder, faced with the disorder are required to have long-term treatment to keep the symptoms of bipolar under control. Efficient care of the disorder entails medication as well as carrying out the process of psychotherapy so as to avoid the lapse and also reduce the signs and symptoms (Bizzarri, 2007).


Bipolar disorder is hardly identifiable especially at its onset with its symptoms appearing as distinct problems that may not be easily recognized as being parts that encompass the larger problem.


  1. Bizzarri, J. (2007).The spectrum of substance abuse in bipolar disorder: reasons for use, sensation seeking and substance sensitivity. Bipolar Disord.Vol.9, No.3, 213-220.
  2. Goodwin, K., (2007). Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. Krishnan, K., (2005). Psychiatric and medical comorbidities of bipolar disorder. Psychosom Med. Vol. 67, No.1, 1-8.
  4. Schneck, C., (2008). The prospective course of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder: findings from the STEP-BD. New York: Am J. Psychiatry.
  5. Mueser, K., (1998). Trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in severe mental illness. J Consult Clin Psychol. Vol. 66, No. 3, 493-499.
  6. Strakowski, M, (1998). Course of psychiatric and substance abuse syndromes co-occurring with bipolar disorder after a first psychiatric hospitalization. J Consult Clin Psychol. Vol. 59, No.9, 465-471.

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