Manic Depressive Illness

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Manic-depressive illness commonly known as bipolar disorder is a condition affecting a person’s ability to function by altering mood and energy levels. Bipolar disorder is one of the most severe forms of mental illness affecting an average of 5.7 million adults or 2.6 percent of the population over the age of 18 in any given year. (NIMH 2008) If left untreated it can have a profound impact on its victim’s lives, ultimately resulting in a 15% suicide rate of people between the ages of 15-24. (Long 2005) The most important information to know about this debilitating brain disease are: the symptoms and the available treatments.

Common symptoms of bipolar-disorder are visible through periods of highs and lows called episodes. These episodes are divided into two categories: manic and depressive. Manic episode symptoms include but are not limited to: increased energy, extreme irritability, distractibility, unrealistic beliefs, poor judgment, lasting of behavior that differs from normal, and aggressive behavior. Manic episodes are commonly diagnosed when a person depicts three or more symptoms for the better part of the day, for a period of one week or longer. When a person’s mood alters in a more somber than energetic fashion he/she may have signs of a depressive episode. Depressive episodes are diagnosed when five or more symptoms are present for a period of two weeks or longer. These symptoms include but are not limited to: feelings of hopelessness/guilt/worthlessness, loss of interest in commonly enjoyed activities, restlessness, decreased energy, prolonged sadness, difficulties in concentrating, and diminishing appetite/unexplained weight gain.

There is no known cure for bipolar disorder. Patients diagnosed early can be put on a combination of medical treatments and counseling therapy. With many actively prescribed drugs on the market the first choice may not always be the best choice as it may not work. Doctors will change prescriptions or combine drugs in...
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