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Bipolar Disorder

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Essay title: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar affective disorder has been a mystery since the 16th century. History has shown that this disorder can appear in almost anyone. 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 amount of people suffering from it, we are still waiting for explanations for the causes and cure. The one fact of which we are aware of is that bipolar disorder severely undermines its victim’s ability to obtain and maintain social and occupational success.

“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic- depression illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function” (Spearing 2002). “It is much less common than major depression disorder, affecting about 1.2% of the U.S. population in any given year, and the lifetime prevalence rates are about the same for males and females” (Wood, Wood, and Boyd 2006). Every normal person has their own ups and downs but the symptoms for bipolar patients can be severe (Spearing 2002). The disorder can ruin relationships, cause poor job or school performance, and even cause people to commit suicide (Spearing 2002). Although this disorder can be freighting it can be treated and people can lead full and productive lives (Spearing 2002).

Bipolar disorder has a large variety of symptoms which are divided into two categories called mania and hypomania. In the book Bipolar Disorder Demystified by Lana Castle

“Mania involves extreme changes of moods, thoughts, and feelings; appetite and sleep patterns; energy and activity levels; self-esteem and confidence; and concentration and decision making abilities. The signs and symptoms of hypomania are, for the most part, the same as mania but are less severe. Symptoms and mood- shift patterns vary with each individual and appear in differing degrees. Some people plunge directly from an extreme high to severe depression. For others, the change occurs more gradually. Some people have manic episodes but no depression episodes at all” (Castle 2003).

There are several stages of mania beginning with optimism and euphoria, in which patients are infatuated with life, have clever ideas, and “get all geared up to head in exciting new directions” (Castle 2003). “Inevitably, things get out of control and someone or something drives them back down. Eventually, either the mood escalates into mania or they will burn themselves out and fall into depression” (Castle 2003). Anger and aggression can occur with some, manic episodes in which some “patients may pick fights in public, become impatient, demanding, or easily provoked” (Castle 2003). “During Euphoric mania or hypomania, everything becomes possible. People embrace each challenge with open arms, life is simple, and they feel an exuberant connection to the universe” (Castle 2003). Also in a manic or hypomanic state people may lose their appetite for hours or even days will go by without them eating anything; people also may have elated energy, rapid speech, lose focus on priorities, become distracted, have impulsiveness by wanting to dine out of the country, have risky behaviors, substance abuse, and have bizarre thoughts and behaviors by believing they can hear plants and animals talking to them (Castle 2003). Bipolar disorder is diagnosed if an episode of mania occurs whether depression has been diagnosed or not. “Everyone gets down from time to time and occasionally has the blues, but clinical depression affects cognitive, physical and/or social functioning” (Castle 2003). “When people are depressed people may think they are “neurotic” and discount the seriousness of their situation” (Castle 2003). Sometimes both manic and depressive symptoms occur at the same time in what is called a mixed episode (Spearing 2002). Those affected are at special risk because people could feel agitated, have trouble sleeping, significant change in appetite, psychosis, and suicidal thinking (Spearing 2002). A person may have a very sad, hopeless mood, while at the same time feeling extremely energized (Spearing 2002). The National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (DMDA) have found out in their research that bipolar disorder can create a negative effect on spouses and partners, family matters, friends and co-workers. Many times, bipolar patients report that the depressions are longer and increase in frequency as the person ages. Many times bipolar states and psychotic states are misdiagnosed as schizophrenia (Ford-Martin and Odle 2004). The patterns and severity of symptoms or episodes, of highs and lows determine the four different types of bipolar disorders. The first disorder is Bipolar I which is the “high” of the manic depressive cycle characterized by manic episodes (Ford-Martin and Odle 2004). The manic episodes are characterized

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