Out of many disorders that bother human psyche, bipolar disorder, or as it is also called manic depression, stands out as one of the most common and interesting to study, as its diversity, the variety of its symptoms, and the seriousness of the damage it causes makes it a great candidate for a profound research.
Manic depression is described as a mental disorder that is known for abnormal mood swings, as well as energy diminution, fluctuations in the ability of completing everyday tasks, activity levels, etc. Sadly, this disorder is considered to be a serious mental illness that can easily damage any kind of relationships, academic performance, career prospects, and also cause suicidal thoughts (Nordqvist, 2006).
One of the distinctive features of a patient with bipolar disorder is severe mood swings - from depression to mania. But besides that, the patient’s mood is normal (Nordqvist, 2006). Many of us would say that these swings are connected to the ups and downs every person experiences throughout his or hers life, but this is not correct – people with bipolar disorder cannot control the changes in their mood, moreover, these mood swings appear suddenly and are debilitating.
People whose relatives or friends suffer from manic depression often ask about the causes of this disorder.
According to educational information on Medical News Today, there are certain factors that may influence the development of the disorder. They include genetics, biological traits, brain-chemical imbalance, hormonal problems, and environmental problems (Nordqvist, 2006).
Medical News Today claims that bipolar disorder can be divided into three types according to the number of manic episodes and differences in symptoms:
- Bipolar I Disorder – “patients experience at least one manic episode or mixed episodes (with or without previous depressive episodes).” (Nordqvist, 2006).
- Bipolar II Disorder – patients experience “one or more episodes of depression and at least one hypomanic episode. A hypomanic state is less severe than a manic one.” (Nordqvist, 2006)
- Cyclothymia - also known as cyclothymic disorder is seen as a milder form of bipolar disorder. “There are numerous mood disturbances, with bouts of hypomanic symptoms which alternate with periods of moderate or mild depression.”(Nordqvist, 2006)
Despite the prevalence of bipolar disorder, it is still hard to diagnose, as many of the symptoms of manic depression may also fit the description of other illnesses. However, there are some conditions that are specific to bipolar disorder only. For example, manic episodes that patients experience must last for at least a week, and necessarily include irritable mood, racing thoughts, rapid speech, grandiose beliefs, impulsivity, poor judgment, and many more (Dryden-Edwards, MD & Stöppler, MD, 2012 ).
Bipolar disorder is a hard illness to cure, therefore friends, family, and especially doctors and nurses need to do everything possible to prevent manic depression from development. While treating the disorder, psychiatrists need to stop the repetition of manic episodes and to reduce the harshness of symptoms. Only by doing that people who suffer from manic depression can continue living a normal life.
Different therapies are the only thing that can guarantee the effectiveness of treatment and present one with visible results. So in order to cure patients from manic depression, some of these methods that Medical News Today suggests may be used:
- Prescription medication – usually reduces the frequency of manic episodes
- Lithium – most often prescribed drug that is used to treat only the long term episodes of manic depression
- Anticonvulsants are stabilizing drugs that are sometimes prescribed to treat depression
- Ketamine – guarantees improvements within 40 minutes after a single dose, which may last for as many as 3 days
- Psychotherapy – helps patients to identify and recognize the key triggers of the depression
- Lifestyle – only a healthy lifestyle can help patients to recover! (Nordqvist, 2006).
Due to the fact that bipolar disorder is a common illness, there is a great variety of community resources that were created to provide people with qualified information and successful treatment.
According to the medical informational website Medicinenet.com, there are a lot of institutions all over the US where people can get help. They include,
“Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), National Foundation for Depressive Illness, Inc., Mental Health America, and many more”(Dryden-Edwards, MD & Stöppler, MD, 2012 ).
The website also gives full information about these institutions, their addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and websites, in order to make the search easier and more available for people.
All in all, bipolar disorder is a serious danger to the life of every human being who suffers from it, as it is a complex and exhausting illness. Friends, family, doctors, and community services are doing everything possible to make lives of those who live with manic depression easier and more comfortable, and thanks to the modern community resources, medication, and knowledge about the problem, they are doing it right!