What is Bipolar Disorder?

Topics: Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Mania Pages: 5 (1490 words) Published: December 15, 2013

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

“What a creature of strange moods [Winston Churchill] is - always at the top of the wheel of confidence or at the bottom of an intense depression,” once said William Maxwell "Max" Aitken. Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance in the brain that has yet to be unraveled; it causes many mood swings that can happen at a moment’s notice without a word. With many mental illnesses in order to diagnose them it takes time and observation with a health care provider. Treatment is also an aspect that takes planning and reflection mostly on how the patient feels in reaction to the medication that they are taking and other forms of treatment. Although bipolar disorder is a complex disease to diagnose, there are several alternative treatments used in conjunction with medication can be effective in managing this serious mental illness.

By definition Bipolar Disorder is associated with mood swings that range from the lows of depression to the highs of mania; otherwise known as obsession . These two separate feelings could come at the same time of the day or may only take place a few times a year; it all depends on the severity of the patient’s disorder. Currently there is no known exact cause for bipolar disorder; although there are several contributing factors thought to cause the disease. Several of the factors involved with causing bipolar disorder are neurotransmitters, inherited traits, hormones, environment, and a life trauma or significant life moment; such as a death in the family or divorce of the parents. An imbalance in naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters seems to play a significant role in bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is most frequently seen in patients whose parents or a blood relative has the same disorder. The stress of one’s environment also plays a key role in bipolar disorder, when something critical happens to a person that could have bipolar disorder this could in turn trigger the disorder out of dormancy.

There are many ways that bipolar disorder affects a person, but two generalized ways are called mania and depression. Depression is the worst one of all; this can cause thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, anxiety, guilt, sleep problems, low appetite and fatigue. There are many more symptoms associated with depression and bipolar disorder; many of these affect the way that the person works and acts around family and friends. Mania is the other side of the spectrum; this can lead to racing thoughts, poor judgment, aggressive behavior, increased sex drive, declined need of sleep, unfocused, and euphoria. Difficult episodes of mania or depression can lead to psychosis, a disconnection from realism. “Emerging evidence from classical and molecular genetics suggests that the division between both unipolar depression and bipolar disorder and between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is likely to be over lapping”

As stated earlier there are a number of symptoms for bipolar disorder, this is why it is a difficult disease to diagnose. On the other hand these symptoms are not as clear cut in children. They could experience most of the previously stated symptoms all in one day; they could go for hour as happy as could be and then all of the sudden turn around and have bouts of crying and anger. In order to diagnose bipolar disorder there are a few test that a primary care physician will do first. The physician starts with a physical exam and lab tests ran on blood and possibly urine. The lab tests help to rule out any other feasible problems that may be causing the symptoms before diagnosing bipolar disorder. Physicians also use what is called the manual for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Mood charting is another good way that physicians are able to diagnosed bipolar disorder; by keeping track of the patient’s mood changes and sleep this helps them as a team to find the...

Cited: Altinbas, K., Smith, D. J., & Craddock, N. (2011). Rediscovering the Bipolar Spectrum. Archives of Neuropsychiatry, 167-170.
Gary Sachs, C. K. (2000). The Treatment of Bipolar Depression. Bipolar Disorders, 256-260.
The Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, Januaray 18). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from The Mayo Clinic : http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/ds00356
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