Bipolar Disorder and Its Effects Through the Lifespan

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Misty Jackson-Green
February 21, 2011
Bi-Polar Disorder And Its Effects Throughout The Lifespan
Bi-polar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a serious mental illness that can manifest itself at nearly any point in a person’s lifetime. The effects of the disorder can vary widely depending on at what point in life it is diagnosed. Children may have different signs and symptoms than an adolescent who may have different signs and symptoms than an adult. A child with the disorder may be more aggressive, and display an explosive temper whereas bipolar adults may display risky behavior such as sexual exploits with several different people, or excessive spending. At any stage in life bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose, find the right treatment, and adjust to living with the disorder and managing it. Bi-polar disorder is a serious, but treatable mental disorder that demands understanding from the people around you in order to help the diagnosed live a healthy full life.

Bi-Polar Disorder: A History
Bi-polar disorder is a serious mental disorder that afflicts thousands of people in the United States alone. At its most basic level, bipolar disorder can be defined as: “a treatable mental illness that is characterized by episodes of extreme mood swings from mania to depression, and affecting the afflicted person’s energy level, thoughts, and behavior (Jon P. Bloch, 2006, p. 1).” Throughout history scientists and doctors have tried to recognize and label manic-depression. In the second century A.D., Aretaeus of Cappadociam recognized bipolar disorder by identifying and relating the manic and depressive moods experienced (Jon P. Bloch, 2006, p. 1). In 1650, British scientist, Richard Burton, wrote, The Anatomy of Melancholia. The volume focused on diagnosing patients based on their relative “melancholia” or depression but did not take into account mania and its role. Frenchman Jules Falret, in 1854, offered his interpretation of the symptoms as folie circulaire, or circular insanity. Falret connected depression with manic states as a separate issue from just depression, and he connected depression with suicide. At the same time that Falret was making his connections, another Frenchman, Francois Baillarger, was making the connection between depression and mania, identifying it as double insanity, and differentiated bipolar from schizophrenia (Jon P. Bloch, 2006, p. 2).Further identification of bipolar disorder happened in Germany, 1913. German Emil Krapelin officially created the terminology “manic-depressive”. It wasn’t until the 1950’s and 1960’s that researchers began defining the difference between bipolar, unipolar, and the forms of bipolar. There are several types of bipolar disorder identified by the medical community. They are Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymia. Bipolar I is the most severe form of the illness. Bipolar I demonstrates three types of episodes: manic, manic-depressive (also called mixed), and at least one depressive episode. Bipolar II is similar to Bipolar I but is less severe. Instead of full blown mania, you may experience a less severe form of mania called hypomania; also the periods of depression last longer than the periods of hypomania. With cyclothymia the episodes of both depression and mania are the least severe of the three types. Appendix, Figure 1 shows the spectrum of moods experienced by bipolar people. Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive disorder, can afflict people of all ages, possibly starting as early as infancy (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 2006). Bipolar disorder may affect children and young adolescents differently than older adolescents and adults. Symptoms may vary at different stages of life as well. Bipolar is a long-term, disruptive condition but you can keep your moods in check and the illness controlled with proper treatment (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research,...
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