Term Paper: Manic Depression Bipolar

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¶ … Bipolar Disorder. The writer explores the disorder, symptoms and treatments as well as changes that have taken place over the years with regards to the disorder. There were 11 sources used to complete this paper.

Bipolar Disorder Explained

While mental health field is still in its relative infancy it has made many large discoveries and advances with regards to mental health issues and disorders in recent years. One of the most difficult yet treatable mental health disorders is Bipolar. Bipolar has a range of symptoms that can have an extremely negative impact on one's life as well as the lives of those around the Bipolar patient. While Bipolar is treatable it is not considered curable and when left untreated it can have devastating consequences. Symptoms can range from mild to psychotic depending on the severity and type of Bipolar. With advances in the mental health field however, effective treatment is available and the majority of patients can live full lives.

Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a disorder that can create havoc in the patient's life and is often seen in alcoholics and drug addicts (Brady, 2002).

Bipolar is believed to have a highly genetic component and it is able to skip generations before showing itself again in a family which can lead families to wonder where it came from if they are not aware of a great aunt, grandmother or other relative further up the family tree that had Bipolar disorder (History of Bipolar disorder (http://www.depression-guide.com/bipolar-disorder-history.htm).Because Bipolar disorder is a relatively newly discovered mental illness the generational knowledge is not as well documented as other disorders have been and mental health professionals are left to rely on family anecdotal stories about relatives' behavior to determine whether or not there is a genetic component or whether there is a familial propensity to developing the disorder.

Even when there are no clear genetic markers, the disorder can be brought on with environmental factors that influence whether a particular person or child will develop Bipolar (Strakowski, 2000).

Studies have concluded that the risk of developing Bipolar disorder for the general population is approximately 1 in 100, however, this is considered a conservative estimate as there are many cases of Bipolar that are not being diagnosed and instead are being masked by drug addiction, alcohol abuse or criminal behaviors.

Research has found that when a parent has Bipolar Disorder the children of that parent have a 15-30% chance of developing it., if both parents have the disorder then percentage for the children leaps to a 50-75% chance of developing it.

Recent studies also indicate that if a sibling or fraternal twin has Bipolar disorder then the sibling has a 15-25% chance of it developing but if the sibling with the disorder is an identical twin, the other twin has a 70% probability of developing Bipolar (History of Bipolar disorder (http://www.depression-guide.com/bipolar-disorder-history.htm).

It is interesting to note that since WWII the incidence of Bipolar disorder is increasing. This could be due to environmental issues or because it is more recognized and diagnosed than it was in the past. Regardless of the exact reasons the fact remains that Bipolar diagnosis is on the rise with each passing generation.

Though the disorder is relatively new in its diagnosable stages the family trees of those who have it is usually filled with relatives that had substance abuse issues. In addition the family tree often has many significantly successful relatives in the fields of business, arts and politics (History of Bipolar disorder (http://www.depression-guide.com/bipolar-disorder-history.htm).

Throughout history there have been a number of well-known people that mental health experts now believe had Bipolar Disorder. They included, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Anne Sexton, Winston Churchill, Virginia Wolf, Ernest Hemmingway, Beethoven, Newton and Charles Dickens (History of Bipolar disorder (http://www.depression-guide.com/bipolar-disorder-history.htm).

Symptoms

The hallmark symptom of Bipolar as compared to other types of depression is a roller coaster of highs and lows (Kopetskie, 2001). Those who have Bipolar disorder have periods of highs and lows that are extreme and outside the norm of society. One of the problems in the recognition of Bipolar initially is that the highs and lows cycle but the cycle lengths can vary significantly.

Overview

Bipolar Disorder was at one time called Manic Depression. While the name has changed it is the same disorder though it was only recently recognized that it can manifest itself in children as well as adults.

It is a brain chemical disorder, and while medical science does not yet know the exact cause or manifestation of the disorder chemically it has been shown through research that there are cell membrane issues involved with those who have the disorder as compared to those who do not have it.

While everyone in life experiences occasional highs and lows with their daily routines however with Bipolar those highs and lows are so extreme that they become life altering.

They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives (Bipolar Disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm#intro)."

Currently in America there are almost 6 million adults who have been diagnosed with the disorder which equals about 2.6% of the population (Bipolar Disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm#intro).

Most Bipolar disorder first shows itself in early adulthood however; recently the mental health community has begun to recognize that it can appear in adolescence and early childhood as well.

It is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life (Bipolar Disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm#intro)."

The mood swings that can accompany the disorder can be so drastic that it incites behaviors that are violent or extremely abnormal (Tohen, 1998). People with Bipolar disorder have gone into stores and written thousands of dollars worth of checks that had no money in the bank to cover them, they sometimes hear voices that are not there and see images that do not exist (Mueser, 1998).

Some of the signs and symptoms of the disorder are vague but when there are several consistent symptoms that cycle the diagnosis can be made.

Between cycles however, the moods are stable and normal which presents the questioning of the disorder by patients who then stop their treatment believing they have been misdiagnosed which begins the entire cycle again.

Typical mania symptoms might include:

Increased energy, activity, and restlessness

Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood

Extreme irritability

Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another

Distractibility, can't concentrate well

Little sleep needed

Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers

Poor judgment

Spending sprees lasting period of behavior that is different from usual

Increased sexual drive

Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications (Bipolar Disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm#intro)." manic episode happens when the elevated mood occurs within three or more of the other symptoms most of a day, every day for more than a week long. If the person is also irritable then the need for four symptoms must be documented to diagnose a manic episode.

The depression of Bipolar is similar in nature to other types of depression and include symptoms such as sad, anxious and empty feelings, excessive worry, feeling hopeless, feeling guilty, feeling worthless, feeling helpless, losing interest in things that previously interested the patient, a loss of energy or increased fatigue.

The person may sleep to much or not enough, and there may be thoughts of suicide or death.

These symptoms will last more than two weeks and there should be at least five of the symptoms present for a diagnosis of a depressive episode.

Chronic pain is also a symptom that can occur with an episode of depression.

A mild to moderate level of mania is called hypomania. Hypomania may feel good to the person who experiences it and may even be associated with good functioning and enhanced productivity. Thus even when family and friends learn to recognize the mood swings as possible bipolar disorder, the person may deny that anything is wrong. Without proper treatment, however, hypomania can become severe mania in some people or can switch into depression (Bipolar Disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm#intro)."

Sometimes the mania or depression become so severe that the person suffers from psychosis as well. Psychosis can include hallucinations through seeing, hearing or sensing that something is present that is not, or delusions which include strongly held beliefs that are completely false, (IE believing that one has become Godlike). Believing one is the U.S. president would be another example of delusions that can be seen in a manic or severe depressive state (Bipolar Disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm#intro).

It may be helpful to think of the various mood states in bipolar disorder as a spectrum or continuous range. At one end is severe depression, above which is moderate depression and then mild low mood, which many people call "the blues" when it is short-lived but is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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