Extreme imbalances of emotions that an individual might experience are not merely mood swings. These extreme changes of emotions are indicators of a mental illness called bipolar disorder. This essay discusses the bipolar disorder in detail. It analyses its causes and symptoms, various diagnosis, and treatments available to patients. It also presents various researches that are currently carried out about the bipolar disorder. The paper concludes with a discussion of writer’s personal thoughts and views in relation to bipolar disorder and its effective treatment
Effects of Bipolar Disorder
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Bipolar disorder refers to a mental illness which is characterized by extreme changes of emotional state of a person. Changes in mood are often associated with behavioral changes. Some doctors refer to it as a mood disorder because of the mood swings involved in it. Bipolar disorder is also sometimes referred to as manic depression. Manic depression is a state of mind in which a person experiences depression episodes that disappear from time to time. Yatham and Maj define bipolar disorder as a state of chemical imbalance in the brain of an individual, which results into states of intense feelings of euphoria, or manic episodes, as well as extreme low moods called depression episodes (2010). When a person is frequently experiencing manic and depression episodes, that person is said to be undergoing the process of cycling.
Bipolar disorders may take three forms: bipolar type I, bipolar type II, and bipolar type III. Generally, bipolar disorders often begin during adolescence and may continue throughout the lifespan of a person.
The real causes of bipolar disorder are not known, however, it is believed that the condition results from chemical imbalances in the brain and genes inherited from parents. It also may be caused by biological factors such as changes in the levels of body hormones and by psychological factors such as stress from workplace, social discriminations, or inability to manage emotions.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The condition of a person with a bipolar disorder may be divided into two states: manic episode and depression episode. Each of these two episodes is characterized by different signs and symptoms. Symptoms of bipolar disorders which occur during manic episode include euphoric feelings, extreme body movements, talking too fast, restlessness, and extreme happiness.
Depression episodes are characterized by extreme sadness, low moods, feeling of loneliness, lack of intrinsic motivation, and, sometimes, physical pains. Additionally, a person experiencing a depression episode may also become highly emotionally sensitive. He or she may also have suicidal and other self-destructive thoughts. Furthermore, depression episodes are characterized by feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Depressed patients may lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy doing, for example, they may become less involved in recreational or sporting activities. Patients suffering from bipolar disorders who are married report loss of interest in sex.
Yatham and Kusumakar claim that a person may experience a mixed episode state which comprises of symptoms of both manic and depression episodes (2009). For example, a person in the mixed episode state may impulsively make a decision to commit suicide as a result of depression. In this case, quick decision-making results from manic episode which leads to impaired judgment, while the thought of committing suicide results from depression episode.
When bipolar disorder condition becomes severe, patients often show signs of psychosis. Psychosis is a state in which an individual develops unrealistic thoughts, such as delusions or false beliefs, and hallucinations. In most cases patients having bipolar disorder engage in undesirable behaviors such as increased abuse of drugs and alcohol. This results in social withdrawal, isolation from families and friends, and unhealthy sexual behaviors such as attempts of rape. People with psychosis easily become irritated as well as make unrealistic decisions. Sleep disorders, poor concentration on activities, poor memory, and loss of appetite have also been observed in patients with bipolar disorder. Yatham and Maj observed that patients suffering from bipolar disorder also develop pessimistic thoughts, hence have low self-esteem and low motivation levels (2010). Additionally, prolonged sadness, loneliness, extreme depression, and loss of energy often result into loss of body weight.
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Patients with bipolar disorder often suffer from emotional imbalances. Therefore, it is important for family members to provide adequate emotional support to these patients as part of the treatment process. Patients with bipolar disorder require both emotional and economic support in order to be able to effectively deal with changes in mood and feelings.
The treatment of bipolar disorder involves prescription of drugs and counseling to the patient. Although there is no known cure for bipolar disorder, certain medications such as depressants and mood stabilizers may be used to reduce its effects. As part of the treatment effort it is advisable for patients to choose healthy lifestyles which involve regular exercising, getting enough sleep, developing healthy eating habits, learning to adequately control and monitor personal moods, avoiding stressful environments or situations as well as getting adequate information on how to successfully manage bipolar disorders.
Miklowitz and Frank claim that since bipolar disorder exhibits itself in a similar manner to other lifetime diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it can be successfully managed through appropriate treatment (2010). This would help patients to lead normal and productive lives.
Current Research on Bipolar Disorder
Currently, doctors, scientists, and healthcare professionals are busy researching exact causes of a bipolar disorder. Nowadays, this illness is associated with chemical imbalances in the brain as well as with genetic factors. Most people also believe that bipolar disorder is caused by psychological factors such as hallucinations and behavioral factors such as extreme abuse of drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Recent research studies have revealed that in most cases, when a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, family members exhibit several reactions. According to McDonlad, 73 percent of family members refute the diagnosis and opt for a second diagnosis by a different doctor. Approximately 40 percent of family members also believe that bipolar disorder is caused by extreme abuse of hard drugs hence they blame patients for their state (2011).
Based on these findings of previous researches, doctors, psychiatrics, and behavioral sociologists currently are researching on how to educate and inform the society about bipolar disorder. They are looking for effective ways in which family members may provide adequate emotional and socio-economic support to patients of bipolar disorder.
Personal Thoughts and Reflections about the Disorder
Although bipolar disorder is not a serious mental illness, it still has significant effects on an individual’s psychology, feelings, behaviors, and wellbeing. In most cases, it affects the ability of a person to make sound decisions. Therefore, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately after a person shows signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder so as to facilitate diagnosis and treatment. Bipolar disorder often results into impairment of the ability of a person to make sound judgments.
Conclusively, I would argue that despite the fact that there is no cure for bipolar disorder and none has yet been invented, the condition can be effectively managed in order to reduce its negative effects on the individual. Moreover, some people do not regard bipolar disorder as an illness. In my opinion, however, lack of proper care may lead to unnecessary suffering of the patient for a long period of time. If not properly treated, bipolar disorder may lead to poor health of the patients, increased rates of criminal activity in the society, disruptive relationships between patients and their family members, increased deaths due to drug abuse, or accidents caused by depressed patients. There are various risks associated with bipolar disorder illness, hence great need to effectively manage it. There is a substantial room for further research to be carried out to identify exact causes of bipolar disorder and its cures to assist in its diagnosis and treatment.