Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a common, recurrent, and debilitating mood disorder which causes extreme shifts in energy and mood. The word bipolar indicates the two main polar extremes which a person with the disorder experiences. According to NIMH, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that oversees neurological and psychological research, this disorder affects about 2.3 million adults in the United States and about 1.2 percent of the population worldwide. The first signs of this disorder usually appear in adolescence and early adulthood, with cases seldom occuring in childhood. No findings have been made to indicate a difference in frequency among those of differing race or ethnicity. Bipolar disorder can sometimes be co-morbid with several other disorders, including panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance dependence. This essay will discuss the underlying causes of bipolar disorder, study its symptoms and the different forms that it takes, look into its treatments and possible cures, and finally, examine its supposed link with artistic creativity.
There are three different types of bipolar disorder, most of which are characterized by the presence and/or frequency of certain episodes, of which there are several kinds. Manic episodes normally last for at least one week and are characterized by persistently irritable and elevated mood, euphoria, impulsiveness, and expansiveness. People suffering from a manic episode will usually have racing thoughts and will speak using quick, run-on sentences. They will be noticeably more active than usual, get far less sleep, engage in several activities at once, and be very unorganized in said activities. One of the most dangerous symptoms is the excessive involvement in risk-taking activities, known as hypersexuality. If an episode worsens, people may even begin to experience symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia, including hallucinations, delusions, and severely disorganized thinking and reasoning. This often leads to the misdiagnosis of people with bipolar disorder as schizophrenics. Sometimes the episode can even lead to unprovoked violence towards an object or another person. During these manic episodes, people will usually not even perceive exactly what they are doing and will have little, if any, control over their thoughts and actions.
A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode only less severe. The symptoms of a hypomanic episode include most of those in a manic episode, with a decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, occasional anger, and elevated mood. However, hypomanic episodes are usually not perceptible to others and do not impair a person's social, work, or family life in any significantly obvious way. People who are going through a hypomanic episode are usually cheerful and pleasant, need little sleep, and seem to always have an abundance of energy. They may even feel a sense of heightened creativity. While hypomania sounds in many ways like a desirable condition, there are significantly negative downsides. Even though hypomania is less severe than mania, it can still impair a person's judgment with overconfidence, leading to dangerous actions with consequences that the person may not have considered. Even more alarming is the fact that hypomania is very difficult to diagnose because those with the affliction are often mistaken for simply having a naturally energetic temperment. It is very important to diagnose hypomania, because as a stage of bipolar disorder, it will eventually cycle into depression, which carries with it the potential risk of suicide.
A major depressive episode will usually last for at least a two week period. During this time, people with bipolar will become deeply depressed and fatigued, experience either insomnia or hypersomnia, become indecisive and easily agitated, and lose or gain a significant amount of weight. They...
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