Everyone has ups and downs in their mood; such as happiness, sadness, and anger that are normal emotions and an essential part of everyday life. In contrast, Bipolar Disorder is a medical condition in which people have mood swings out of proportion, or totally unrelated, to things going on in their lives. These swings affect thoughts, feelings, physical health, behavior, and functioning. Those who have children know it is rough enough at times to keep one’s composure, but could you imagine being a parent of a child with a mental illness. All children have temper tantrums and episodes where their behavior tests their parents’ patience. However, picture one of these episodes lasting anywhere from one to three months long and bringing on truly bizarre behavior, insomnia, recurrent thoughts of suicide, and changes in cognitive thinking (APA, 2000).
Before Bipolar Disorder can be fully understood, the two main mood stages must first be identified. During an endless bout with Bipolar Disorder, a person experiences many stages of mania and depression (Comer, 2005). Different symptoms of mania include an increase in energy, rapid speech, excessive excitement, extreme irrability and distractibility, and high-risk behavior (Comer, 2005). All of these symptoms may not be prevalent in a Bipolar Disorder patient; however, the more severe the case, the more likely all symptoms may occur. A depressed episode includes the opposite characteristics, including a persistent sad or empty feeling, decreased energy, loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed, difficulty concentrating, and change in appetite or body weight (Noshpitz, Kernberg & Bemporad, 1997).
There also are two less-severe stages a bipolar patient may go through, which are mixed episodes and hypomanic episodes (APA, 2000). A mixed episode contains characteristics of both manic and depressive stages occurring at the same time (APA, 2000). Mixed episodes are the most difficult to...
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