Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar Disorder
Angela M. Powell
English Composition I
April 18, 2011
Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar Disorder Page 2
Brain disorders are commonly misunderstood due to the
actions of the person living with the disorder. Education about brain disorders should decrease the misunderstanding of the disorders, and increase the support for those suffering with the disorder.
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with distress or disability that occurs in an individual and which is not part of normal development or culture. Some mental disorders are diagnosed based on the harm to others they cause, regardless of the
subject’s perception of distress. I will discuss the likenesses and differences between two mental illnesses affecting the brain. Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic and disabling brain disorder that has affected people for some time. About 1
percent of Americans suffer from the illness. People with
schizophrenia may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may even believe that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to do harm to them at times. These beliefs can terrify them, make them feel
withdrawn or extremely agitated. Due to the emotional
instability of a person suffering from schizophrenia, they may encounter difficulties holding a job or even caring for themselves. Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 3
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive illness, is a chronic brain disorder like that of schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, activity level and their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder normally affects people in their late teens or early adult years. At least 50% of all cases are reported before the patient is 25 years of age. While people with schizophrenia have difficulties or may never hold a job or care for themselves; people with bipolar disorder can lead full and productive lives. The symptoms of schizophrenia fall under three general categories. There are positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms. The positive symptoms are the
psychotic behaviors or actions of a schizophrenic. These
behaviors are not normal in healthy people. A schizophrenic may often lose touch with reality by having constant
hallucinations. Hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and movement disorders are all considered positive symptoms of
schizophrenia. Negative symptoms are disruptions to a person’s normal emotions and behaviors. The symptoms may be harder
to recognize because they are normally mistaken for depression. Examples of negative symptoms are the lack of ability to begin Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 4
and sustain planned activities, lack of pleasure in everyday life, and speaking very little when forced to interact with others. Cognitive symptoms are the most subtle of the three symptoms. Like the negative symptoms, cognitive symptoms are harder to recognize without additional testing done on the patient. These are the symptoms that make it harder for a person to lead a normal life or earn a living. Poor “executive functioning” or the ability to understand and use information to make decisions, trouble focusing or paying attention, and problems with the ability to use information immediately after learning it; are all examples of cognitive symptoms.
People with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, have very different categorized symptoms. They experience distinct
periods called “mood episodes”. Where there are three types of symptoms in schizophrenia, there are only two episodes in
bipolar depression. The...