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Bipolar Disorder

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Essay title: Bipolar Disorder

In recent years, the medical world has researched bipolar disorder, also treatments and theories that would help prevent it. Many people are not aware that not only is bipolar diagnosed in adults, but also in adolescents. Even the great painter Vincent Van Gogh is believed to have had bipolar disorder. It is clear that in our society, many people live with bipolar disorder. However, despite the abundance of people suffering from it, we are still waiting for explanations for the cause and cure. The one fact of which we are painfully aware is that bipolar disorder severely undermines its' victims ability to obtain and maintain social and occupational success. Because bipolar disorder has such debilitating symptoms, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in the quest for explanations of its causes and treatment. The onset of Bipolar disorder usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 30 years of age, with a second peak in the mid-forties for women. Psychologists have studied that children and adolescents suffer with bipolar disorder also.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by a multitude of symptoms that can be broken into manic and depressive episodes. The depressive episodes are characterized by intense feelings of sadness and despair that can become feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Some of the symptoms of a depressive episode include disturbances in sleep

and appetite, mild retardation, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, difficulty thinking, indecision, and recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. The manic episodes are

characterized by elevated or irritable mood, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, poor judgment and insight, and often reckless or irresponsible behavior. In some cases, an individual may experience more episodes of mania and depression that succeed each other without a period of remission. When both manic and depressive symptoms are concurrent, it is called a mixed episode or rapid cycling. Up to 50% of all patients with mania have a mixture of depressed moods and anxiety. Patients report feeling depressed, and unhappy; yet, they exhibit the energy associated with mania.

Lithium has been the primary treatment of bipolar disorder since its introduction in the 1960's. It is main function is to stabilize the cycling characteristics of bipolar disorder. In a majority of bipolar patients, it lessens the duration, frequency, and severity of the episodes of both mania and depression. Unfortunately, as many as 40% of bipolar patients are either unresponsive to lithium or cannot tolerate the side effects. Some of the side effects include thirst, weight gain, nausea, diarrhea, and edema. Patients who are unresponsive to lithium treatment are often those

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