Bipolar Disorder

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By: Stephanie Barrett

Instructor: Jennifer Hensley

July 16, 2012

Bipolar disease is defined as extreme mood swings, from manic highs to severe depressions. It is called a mood disorder because it profoundly affects a person’s experience of emotion and “affects” (the way a person conveys emotions to others). It is called bipolar because the mood swings occur between two poles- high and low- as opposed to unipolar disorder, where mood swings occur along only one pole- the lows. In the manic “high” state, people experience different combinations of the following: elated or euphoric mood (excessive happiness or expansiveness), irritable mood (excessive anger and touchiness), a decreased need for sleep, grandiosity or an inflated sense of themselves and their abilities, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts or jumping from one idea to another, an increase in activity and energy levels, changes in thinking, attention, and perception, and impulsive reckless behavior. These episodes alternate with intervals in which a person becomes depressed, sad, blue, or “down in the dumps,” loses interest in things that a person ordinarily enjoys, loses weight and appetite, feels fatigued, has difficulty or making decisions, and often feels like committing suicide. Episodes of either mania or depression can last anywhere from days to months. Some people (about 40 percent by some Calabrese et al., 1996) don’t experience depressions and manias in alternating fashion. Instead, they experience them simultaneously, in what we call “mixed episodes.” Episodes of bipolar do not develop overnight, and how severe the manias or depression get varies greatly from person to person. With the bipolar disease there are neurotransmitters associated with disease. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that are implicated in mental illness. There are several different types of neurotransmitters that are associated with bipolar disease. One of the most common is Dopamine; this affects the mood, behavior, and thought process of the disease. Dopamine can trigger the manias and the thoughts of suicide. Norephinephrine affects the arousal, anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure of bipolar disorder. Norephinephrine triggers the energy level and the extensive energy level that also comes along with the disorder. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that I would say “is the upper” of the disease this is depression side. Serotonin gives the person the inability to need sleep, affects sexual behavior, and motor activity. All of these things help gives the doctor’s a better way of diagnosing this disease to an individual. The first step in getting a proper diagnosis is finding the right doctor. Make sure the doctor specializes in psychiatric care and have a referral from your regular doctor. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is established through clinical interview, in which the patient will be asked whether you have experienced certain symptoms over a given period of time. A diagnosis for bipolar disorder is a timely process and it takes a lot researching to diagnose a person with this disease. Psychiatrists and psychologists rely on the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to make diagnoses (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994a, 2000). Note the term “manual” in the title: A clinician should be able to pick up the manual and decide whether patient criteria for a specific psychiatric illness. Applying these diagnostic criteria reliably (that is, being able to tell one disorder from another) cannot be done quickly or haphazardly: it requires considerable training, experience, and skill on the part of mental health professional. The doctor will identify your symptoms you have, how severe the symptoms are, and how long they have lasted. From your particular pattern of symptoms, he or she will then determine if the diagnoses of bipolar disorder- as outlined in the DSM-IV fits you. If it does, then your...
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