Essay, Research Paper: Bipolar Disorder


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Bipolar disorder is perhaps one of the most tragic mood disorders, because it
virtually taunts with the affected person’s mind. Bipolar disorder (also known
as manic-depressive disorder) is a mental condition in which the person
alternates between feelings of mania and depression (Kalat, 614). These feelings
are extreme opposites, and thus create tremendous mental and physical stress on
the person affected. This unfortunate disorder affects one to two percent of the
adult population. 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. Different
symptoms of mania include an increase in energy or activity, rapid speech,
excessive excitement, extreme irritability and distractibility, a decrease in
the amount of sleep needed, uncommonly poor judgment, an increased sex drive,
denial, overspending, and high-risk behavior. 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 (sex), difficulty concentrating,
change in appetite or body weight, and thoughts of suicide. There are also two
less-severe stages a bipolar disorder patient may go through, which are mixed
episodes and hypomanic episodes. A mixed episode contains characteristics of
both manic and depressive stages occurring at the same time. Mixed episodes are
the most difficult to treat, because different types of medicines are necessary
for different episodes. A hypomanic episode is characterized by less severe,
less constraining symptoms of mania. Doctors often overlook hypomanic episodes,
which too often leads to misdiagnosing. When a person experiences a combination
of four episodes within a year, the person is considered to be going through
rapid cycling. There are two types of bipolar disorder. The first is considered
the classic, more popular form, and is considered “Bipolar I Disorder.” This
version of the disorder is when the person goes through full manic or mixed
episode, and usually also goes through episodes of complete depression. The
second type of the disorder is Bipolar II Disorder, in which the person has had
at least one hypomanic episode, and at least one complete depressive episode,
yet never goes through a full manic or a full mixed episode. Treating a patient
of bipolar disorder takes a while. Currently, doctors prescribe three different
types of medication to bipolar patients: mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and
antidepressants. Often times, patients need combinations of the drugs, which
take a while to decipher, so it often takes about a month to find the correct
prescription for someone. Mood stabilizers are mainly used for episodes of mania
or hypomania, and sometimes for mixed episodes. Mood stabilizers are also
utilized to suppress future manic breakouts. Lithium pills are a common medicine
for the suppression of manic episodes, however it can be considered dangerous.
If too little a dosage is taken, it is ineffective, and if too large a dosage is
taken, blurry vision and nausea occurs. If used correctly Lithium pills can be
very effective, and can fight off manic episodes for years at a time.
Antipsychotic drugs are used to suppress severe manic breakouts, and act
quickly. Antidepressants, not surprisingly, are prescribed during the depressive
stage of bipolar disorder. Antidepressants include SSRIs (Selective Serotonin
Re-uptake Inhibitors), Tricyclics, MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors), and
Bupropoin. Usually, when an antidepressant in prescribed, a mood stabilizer is
prescribed along with it, to prevent a possible sway from the depressive stage
straight to a manic stage. If the prescribed medications do not work, and the
case is severe, sometimes ECT (Electro convulsive Therapy) is used to shock the
patient out of his or her depressed stage. Currently, scientists and
psychotherapists are trying to determine how bipolar disorder is caused. Studies
have determined that bipolar can run in families, so the disorder is genetic.
Unfortunately, though, doctors have not yet found any other causes.
Psychotherapists often do psychoanalyses of bipolar patients, to find if
anything that occurred earlier in their lives led to the disorder, but no
concrete evidence has yet been found.

BibliographyFagan, James W. Introduction to Psychology. California: Wadsworth, 1999.
Long, Phillip W. Bipolar Disorder. Home page. Oct. 1994.
What is Bipolar Disorder? Home page.
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