Bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic depression illness, is a brain problem that leads to various problems in someone’s normal functioning, for instance, unusual mood shifts, levels of activities, energy, and the ability to carry daily operations (Marneros & Goodwin, 2005). It is a serious mental problem because it leads to one or more abnormal episodes known as mania if critical, and hypo mania if milder.
Usually, there are four mood episodes in bipolar disorder which have different types of symptoms. These moods include hypo mania, depression, mania and mixed episodes (Marneros & Goodwin, 2005). People who suffer from manic episodes also undergo depression at the same time or at different times.
When manic occurrences and depression occur at the same time, it is called rapid cycling, though to some individuals they occur differently. Hallucinations and delusions are severe symptoms which occur when the condition is extreme. I would suggest that once an individual starts noticing some behavioral changes, he/she should consult a doctor/professional before the condition becomes worse.
Bipolar 1, bipolar 11, bipolar not specified and cyclothymia are the known stages of manic disorder. They are classified depending on the condition and seriousness of mood situations experienced. Bipolar disorder leads to unpredictable mood changes from overly high level, sadness and hopeless and then back again leading to serious changes in energy and behavior.
This disorder mostly affects individuals at their late teens or early adult years before age 25, a small percentage shows signs during childhood, and others late in life. Some people suffer for a long duration of time before they are diagnosed because this problem is not spotted easily at the beginning. Like other common diseases, its also along-term discomfort which calls for attention throughout someone’s life.
This condition creates worries and fears as it can result to some undesirable situations like poor performances in school and jobs, damaged relationships, total disruption of ones life, and even can lead to someone committing suicide.
Despite all the above the condition is treatable. In my opinion, all the people near the victim, that is family members, workmates and friends should also be part of the treatment by helping the patient to cope with the situation.
1 out of 45 persons aged above 18 years are estimated to be suffering from this condition in America, leading to more than 5 million victims equally for both men and women (Hansel & Damour, 2008). The condition is in all cultures and ethnic divisions. There are different physical signs of this illness to different individuals which confirm the disorder because there are no signs which can be detected in the victim’s blood.
It’s always hard even for mental health specialists to detect this disorder, especially to differentiate it from unipolar depression as the only observable difference is that, the later victim alternate between conditions of mania and depression.
I believe that as it is hard for any specialist to detect this disorder at first, it’s wise for the victim to reveal all queer changes he has experienced. Any individual suffering from this condition undergoes a period of depression whereby, feelings of sadness, isolation, disturbances in sleep and appetite, chronic pain with or without causes are very common.
In severe cases, the victim’s condition may develop severe bipolar depression. Secondly, the victim undergoes a period of mania whereby it’s an expansive mood state; energy increment and lack of sleep, difficulty speech, and easily drawn away, weakened judgments, among others. Their behaviors may go beyond this level and become intolerant.
Conditions in bipolar 1 involve experiences of one or more manic occurrences sometimes with or without common depression signs. For bipolar one to be diagnosed, one or more manic or mixed occurrences need to be observed (Hansel & Damour, 2008).
According to DSM-IV-TR, however, it’s not a must for depression signs to be detected. Bipolar 11 conditions are marked by hypo manic happenings and at least one common depressive occurrence. It becomes hard to diagnose Bipolar11 because there are no severe causes of social or occupational distractions. There are specifiers that show the presence and the course of the problem in both Bipolar 1 and 11.
When a person has got symptoms which do not match with that of a bipolar 1 or bipolar 11 this condition is called bipolar disorder otherwise not specified.
The person has few symptoms which don’t last long. In cyclothymia, there are hypo manic conditions with phases of depression which do not match with common depressive episodes. Sometimes, the mood here is seen as a normal personality character, however interfering with the performances (Maj & Akiskal, 2002).
The condition is diagnosed with respect to the findings from the following parties: victim’s experiences, abnormal observations from the family members, victim’s friends and his co-workers and finally secondary signs detected by the specialist (psychiatrist).
The kind of symptoms detected determines whether the case will be dealt with on an outpatient bases or with inpatient facilities. Physical examination is the initial stage performed by a physician to asses the condition as there are no biological tests which confirm bipolar disorder.
An interview and a lab tests follows which assist in determining other contributing factors like brain problem, head injury, AIDS, thyroid disorder, salt imbalance and stroke. If these factors are not detected, the physician performs a mental health evaluation.
The doctor may also decide to use a simple questionnaire, called a Mood Disorder Questionnaire to capture some bipolar disorder symptoms which are common, most of the questions asked are meant to determine the reasoning capacity, ability to express things/ideas, memory and how one can maintain relationships (Maj & Akiskal, 2002).
Moreover, a sensitive medical history is taken to ensure a perfect diagnosis; this entails both current and the past signs, symptoms of close family members and relatives. Some people with bipolar disorder survive with it for a very long time before getting the correct diagnosis this is because victims feel alright and energetic hence failure in seeking for treatment.
When serious depressive occurrence happens, that’s when most people start seeking for treatment which leads to a physician likely to give diagnosis of a depression instead of bipolar disorder 1.
Telling the doctor about all the realized changes in behavior, lifestyle and mood swings will assist to diagnose the problem easily because different people respond differently to this condition, symptoms vary in pattern, frequency and how severe the are.
Some people experience mood disruptions continuously while to others it happens severally over a life time which makes the situation hard to be diagnosed.
According to Marneros & Goodwin (2005), Bipolar disorder is caused differently between individuals, mainly by genetic factors and environmental influence. Environmental factors are considered to be the major cause especially social life events and interpersonal relationships.
Genetic factors are also stated as the cause through a gene which is found in a chromosome known as a candidate gene responsible in carrying traits such as diseases hence why the illness is seen running in families as a result of being passed down from parents to children.
A family with a member suffering from this disorder, children are four to six times more likely to catch the problem than the children without a history of bipolar disorder, its my opinion that, for those with family history of this condition to be extra cautious with the mild initial symptoms, and seek medical attention early enough from a psychiatrist so as to receive the right medication.
The earlier the treatment is received the better, as the severe symptoms will call for more attention and will be expensive to be treated. Majority tend to fear due to the chronic diseases which are always associated with the bipolar disorder like AIDS, brain tremor, diabetes etc.
Ignorance of the mild symptoms may also lead to the most severe stages which are unbearable to the victim and the people around him hence making the condition complex and expensive to handle.
Bipolar disorder has no known cure but there is treatment for the major symptoms like mood swings which are controlled for a long duration of time. This treatment includes medication and psychotherapy to reduce the seriousness of the symptoms Clinical psychologist and psychiatric nurse specialist can give the treatment, although the best treatment is believed to come from a psychiatrist.
In my suggestion, any sick person should seek medication from qualified personnel so as to be sure the treatment one is getting, to avoid making the condition worse. Different patients respond differently to medications, therefore, there is need to test the medication before the defined treatment is found.
The doctor will ensure an effective treatment by taking a daily life chart of the patient for symptoms like sleep patterns and life events and decide whether to change the medication or continue with it.
Most medications taken are mood stabilizers which are taken continually for years. Anticonvulsant medications are also used to control moods as well. In 1970s, lithium was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to be used in controlling and avoiding the recurrence of manic and depressive occurrences. Another alternative for lithium used to control moods is valproic acid which was approved in 1995 by the FDA.
These medications especially valproic acid and lamotrigine, have got some adverse side effects of increasing the risks of suicidal thoughts, worsened depression and unusual mood changes (International Society for Bipolar Disorders, 2005). Dizziness, headache, constipation, heartburn and mood swings are the common side effects of other mood stabilizers.
Psychotherapy is also a treatment to bipolar disorder which involves providing support, advising and guiding people with bipolar disorder it entails; cognitive behavioral therapy which enables people to change positively, family focused therapy which helps family members to adjust and cope with the victim and how to help them in the day to day operations especially when the patient is undergoing the treatment, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy which helps the sick people on how to manage themselves and maintain their relationships with others in schools, working areas and in their families, psycho education which educates the sick people about the illness, signs and the early treatment when the symptoms have not become severe.
This helps the patient so much as he is made aware of when and where to seek the right medication. Failure to receive the correct treatment of this condition may lead to some other serious problems like attention deficit, panic disorder and social problems, according to International Society for Bipolar Disorders (2005).
Therefore, people should always be keen on minor changes, especially in moods, mild pains, anxiety, feeling depressed among others as they are the initial symptoms which people tend to ignore and finally lead to bipolar disorder, especially people who have family history of this condition.
Most areas do not have psychiatrists and so the patients are advised to seek assistance from the local support groups who can deal with the condition before they refer the patient to the psychiatrist. I suggest the local support groups to venture as many local regions as possible to reach a large group of people and offer them the needed assistance. When a patient fails to receive treatment on time, bipolar disorder becomes worse.
However, the symptoms awareness to the patient is the first step to getting it treated. Therefore, it’s clear that people should be careful with the initial symptoms which show at the early stages and report to the qualified physician so as to get the right treatment before the condition becomes worse. Severe symptoms of this condition may be very expensive to be treated.
If a family has got a history of bipolar disorder, they should have certain psychiatrist to whom they should be reporting the initial symptoms so as to get the tests required and the right treatment on time.
The family members and the friends who are living with the patient should also play a major role in supporting the sick person, especially assisting him in undergoing the treatment so as to recover quickly. I propose this because these are the people who are close to the patient, and they can help the physician in taking the daily life chart of the patient.
Hansel, J. & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
International Society for Bipolar Disorders. (2005).
Maj, M. & Akiskal, H.S. (2002). Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. John Wiley and Sons.
Marneros, A. & Goodwin, K.F. (2005). Bipolar Disorders: Mixed State, Rapid Cycling, and Typical Forms. Cambridge University Press.