Bipolar Nature or Nurture

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Developing Skills for Studying and Learning
Using Academic Literature

An Evaluative Essay on Nature/Nurture in Bipolar

Hayley Wilde

Bipolar disorder or as it was previously called Manic Depression is a mood disorder that affects about one in a hundred people (data from where??). The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2011) states that there are four? types of Bipolar these are Bipolar I in which a person has experienced at least one manic episode that has lasted for more than one week. It says that people usually experience depressive episodes although some only have the mania. Manic episodes if left untreated normally last 3-6 months whereas depressive episodes can go on for longer 6-12 months. Bipolar II is categorised by only having a mild manic episode and more than one occurrence of major depression. Rapid cycling is categorised by having had more than 4 ‘episodes’ of mood swings which can happen in both type I and type II Bipolar. Lastly Cyclothymia in which the mood swings are not as acute as they are in full-blown Bipolar. Some of the symptoms experienced in Bipolar can be psychotic episodes in which the patient loses contact with reality, they may experience delusions, hallucinations, hear voices that aren’t there, their sense of smell may also be affected. In a manic episode they experience racing thoughts and feelings of grandiosity. Owen & Saunders (2008) suggests that it may be due to the way that the brains cells communicate with each other and that the name ‘manic depression’ was first used by a German doctor Emil Kraepelin in 1896. However Fast and Preston (2006) states that the illness had been documented by Hippocrates more than two thousand years ago and his conjecture was that mood swings were the result of fluctuations in bodily fluids. The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2011) states that the disease seems to run in families rather than due to the way in which we are brought up.

On the other hand the way in which nature has an effect is talked about at length by Oliver (2007) who states that whilst this is the second most commom genetic disease it can be brought about by what happens in our childhood. He suggests that if a parent has been unresponsive to the child that he can develop a ‘hyper mode’ in which he may become forever on guard, lack sleep, and fretful of his surroundings. Which acts as a precursor to the manic depression. Similarly if the parenting is invasive or if the child is criticised then depression sets in. Although he does point out that genes are a factor, childcare also plays an important role. This belief is also put forward by Kinsella & Kinsella (2006:28) who cite the work of Honig et al (1997) who says that whilst it has not been scientifically tested some doctors believe that a person with bipolar may have had overly judgemental and sheltered upbringings. Kinsella & Kinsella (2006:28) go on to cite the work of Garno et al (2005) who in current research have found that 50% of patients with Bipolar have described an abusive and anguished childhood. On the other hand, having looked at the comments on the Action for Postpartum Psychosis website and taking into account that 1300 women each year experience ‘Postpartum Bipolar Disorder’ there are suggestions that lack of sleep is a major contributory factor for developing the illness.

Kinsella & Kinsella (2006:26) cites the work of Craddock & Jones (2002) who tells us that the latest findings are that there is no single cause of bipolar disorder but that it is a combination of historic events, genetics, brain biology and life stress at work. They go on to say that a person may be born with an inclination to develop the illness but that it is not from one specific gene and that it takes a number of factors to activate the illness. In a recent study Craddock & Forty (2006) reported that there is not one gene but that several are at play.

On the other hand Hunt (2005) states that bipolar seems to happen in families and...
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