It is a lifetime condition that needs to betreated to keep it in remission (APA). It is not just a mental illness, but a medical diseaseinvolving the brain. 2The disease progresses as the years pass and the frequency of mood changingepisodes becomes more frequent (MHN). Bipolar Disorder involves depressive and manicphases. With the symptoms presented, clinicians often misdiagnose patients asschizophrenics (Shalala). 3Bipolar affects an individuals thoughts, feelings, health, behavior and ability tofunction.
The disease is not a result of a weak personality, as many people believe. Instead, it is a medical condition where there is an instability in the transmission of nerveimpulses of the brain (neurotransmitters) that signal appropriate moods (NDMDA). Thebipolar patient responds with inappropriate mood swings independent of what is going onaround them (APA). Bipolar compromises the judgment of those that suffer from it. Some even experience hallucinations (Shalala).
4The disease of bipolar itself is classified as Type I and Type II. Type I are thosethat have had prior episodes of mania. One percent of Americans are diagnosed with this. Type II are those that have hypomania phases only (Shalala). A very small percentage (. 6)of Americans have Type II.
5Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. There is no discrimination whenit comes to mental illness (MDA). Cycling is defined by the shifts from one phase toanother. Women are more prone to the more rapid cycling. This is due to the differenthormone changes in the female body. A male is apt to cycle every two to four years, whilea female may cycle four or more times annually (Shalala).
6The best way to understand bipolar is to learn about the different phases that anindividual experiences. There are four different phases: depressive, manic, hypomaniaand mixed episode (APA). 7The depressive phase can last for several months. The patient will show depressedbehavior daily, weight loss, diminished pleasure, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, lack ofconcentration, restlessness, insomnia or hypersomnia (over sleeping), impaired functioningand suicidal thoughts. These symptoms are present without any evidence of drug oralcohol abuse (Long). Any thoughts of death or suicide should be taken seriously.
8The word mania comes from the French and means crazed or frenzied (Shalala). In the manic phase, the individual sleeps only a few hours, yet is feels perfectly rested. They tend to be talkative, distracted and overly goal-oriented. Unfortunately, they seldomfollow through with their goals. Pleasurable activities become very important, particularlythose that involve high risk.
The ego becomes inflated beyond reality and their thoughtsand ideas race continuously (Long). 9Hypomania is a much milder form of mania. In this phase, the individual can easilyfall into a deep depression or escalate into full-blown mania (APA). 10The last phase, mixed episode, is when an individual shows symptoms from bothmanic and depressive phases.
11There are many different theories on what causes bipolar disorder. There seems tobe a connection with family prevalence. Those with a parent with the disorder have a onein seven chance of being bipolar themselves. An earlier age of onset is typical in thesecases.
the typical age of onset is adolescent and earlier adulthood (Shalala). 12Other probable causes are biochemistry, biological clocks and psychological stress. It is known that those with bipolar disorder are more vulnerable to emotional and physicalstress (APA). 13The diagnosis of bipolar disorder typically takes up to eight years. Cliniciansmistakenly diagnose depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or paranoia. Inappropriatetreatments only make the disorder worse.
Anti-depressants lift the patient into the manicphase and anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium or Xanax depress the patient. Psychotherapyalone does not help (Shalala). 14There are solutions for the bipolar patient. Education is the most important. Notonly the patient needs to be educated, but also those close to them. Understanding whysomeone is bipolar and what symptoms to watch for is the first step in helping theindividual get better and maintain a healthy balance (Francell).
15Medications are prescribed to the patients to balance the chemicals in the brain. The most prescribed drug is Lithium. It acts as a mood stabilizer and is often used inconjunction with an anti-depressant such as Paxil or Zoloft. Other mood Stabilizers areTegretol and Depakote.
These medications require close monitoring of the levels in theblood to prevent toxicity (Parikh). Medications are most likely needed for a lifetime tomaintain remission (APA). 16When medications fail to work, electoconvulsive therapy is appropriate. Far frombeing cruel and inhuman, the electric currents have shown positive responses in patients(Parikh). 17Psychotherapy in conjunction with medication is a useful aid in helping bipolarsdeal with emotional and physical stresses.
The years lost to the disorder before diagnosiscan be dealt with. Support groups also help the individual share the fears and concerns(Francell). 18Proper treatment of bipolar disorder prevents suicide, substance abuse andsocial/personal problems. Eighty percent of bipolars can lead healthy, productive lives(NDMDA). Works Cited(APA) American Psychiatric Association.
Expert Consensus Treatment Guidelines forBipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families. Expert KnowledgeSystems. 03 February 2000.
Internet MentalHealth. 03 February 2000.
, MD Bipolar I Disorder – American Description. Internet MentalHealth. 03 February 2000.
NidusInformation Services, Inc. 03 February 2000.
National Depressive andManic-Depression, Association. 03 February 2000.
Mood Disorders. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 03 February2000.