Bipolar Disorder, Its Causes and Treatment Methods

Introduction

Bipolar disorder is a medical condition that affects the moods of an individual. People with this condition experience extreme mood variations where at one moment they are cheerful and at the other, they are depressed and sad. The different changes in moods are referred to as episodes where one can feel very excited and have a positive attitude towards life. This state is known as the hypomania state. While in this state, a patient can be very productive and excited and in some cases, he/she will become impulsive about everything. This paper sets out to discuss bipolar as a disease, its effects, its causes, the physically notable symptoms as well as recommended methods of treatment.

A brief description of Bipolar as a disease

Also known as, the manic-depressive illness, bipolar is regarded as a mental condition. The disease is characterized by an uncontrollable shift of moods from very happy and extroverted behavior to depression and vice versa. However, it is important to verify that bipolar episodes are not influenced or induced by the daily challenges that an individual faces. Bipolar occurs in two different extreme conditions namely, mania and depressive episodes. In the mania state, an individual becomes extra euphoric and this can lead to dangerous behaviors like impulsive sexual activities (Nordqvist, 2006).

On the other hand, depression episodes make a person very sad and he/she exhibits signs of low levels of energy (Nordqvist, 2006). In this state, the person lacks pleasure in everything he/she does and often shows signs of insomnia. In addition to this in both extremes, the patient lacks a rational mind, and differentiating reality from fantasy becomes a difficult task (Nordqvist, 2006). Some patients who suffer from bipolar may have their moods changing in response to the weather conditions and seasons.

Behavioral or functional changes that can occur due to the illness

Patients suffering from this mental condition are prone to great dangers including the threat of suicidal tendencies. In the depressive episode, bipolar patients can get very angry and have extremely negative thoughts concerning life, which can lead them to contemplate suicide. The shift in moods can have dire ramifications in the individual’s relationships with others as well as his performance in the workplace. Students who suffer from bipolar disorder end up performing very poorly in their education due to this condition. As Woody (2013) asserts, although compared to other mental disorders bipolar can be seen as relatively mild, it has great impacts on an individual’s thinking, feelings, and decision-making.

According to Woody (2013), due to the chemical imbalances in the brain, bipolar causes individuals to have extremely good moods and extreme bad moods interchangeably. The change involved in the shifts from one extreme mood to the other is known as ‘Cycling’. When these changes are rapid, the patient is said to be experiencing rapid cycling (Woody, 2013). Bipolar disorder cause impairment to the patient’s judgment and these can cause him/her to perceive things unrealistically hence making impractical judgments.

Known causes and the role of genetics on the onset of the illness

Bipolar disorder can be caused by several factors. The family genealogy is one of the basic ways through which bipolar disorder can be contracted. People who have a family member suffering from bipolar have a higher predisposition to being affected by the disease. However, this is restricted to family members with blood relations. The disease is genetic and can skip some generations without showing signs of existence (Nordqvist, 2006).

It has also been discovered that the disease occurs in different forms from one generation to the other. Research has also shown that children suffering from bipolar disorder experience their first episode10 ears earlier than their parents’ generation although the reason for this trend is still unknown (Nordqvist, 2006). In other cases, bipolar disorder can be caused by physical changes in the human brain although scientists have not yet indicated what can lead to such an event. As mentioned earlier, the brain–chemical imbalance can cause bipolar disorder. This concerns the imbalances of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that enable communication between the brain cells (Nordqvist, 2006).

The concentration of chemicals in the brain of people with bipolar disorder is high compared with those who do not suffer from the disease. The illness causes an increase in the concentration of glutamate, which is an amino acid functioning as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (Nordqvist, 2006). This particular chemical is responsible for sending signals to the brain. We can, therefore, conclude that biochemical changes in the brain are highly responsible for the occurrence of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of bipolar

The occurrence of bipolar disorder is seen in varied ways. They include euphoria and a feeling of energetic actions. Goodwin & Jamison (1990) state that in the manic state, a patient’s confidence and self-esteem is heightened to a level where they become unrealistically overconfidence. As mentioned earlier, in this state judgment is impaired and unrealistic. Patients may make unreasonable decisions based on the feel-good moment and may talk too much and rapidly even though in their normal state they do not act the same way. A patient may also experience a situation where he/she has random thoughts also known as ‘racing thoughts’ (Goodwin & Jamison, 1990).

People who indulge in risky sexual behaviors and drug abuse are most likely suffering from bipolar disorder. Another symptom of this condition is that a patient can be easily distracted leading to underperformance (Goodwin & Jamison, 1990). In the depressive state, hopelessness and low self-esteem are some of the major characteristics. This is followed by visible and extreme sadness leading to a permanent state of melancholy. The depressed episode makes the patient anxious about very inconsequential matters, leading to guilt. In this state, the patient’s patterns of eating change to either taking more or less food consequently leading to weight loss or gain depending on the eating trend (Goodwin & Jamison, 1990).

Current treatments and future research for the prevention or cure

Several therapies can be applied to treat bipolar disorder. They include prescription of medicine that can reduce the incidence of mania/depression episodes, prescription of medicine to deal with the episodes when they occur, and changing an individual’s lifestyle (Leahy & Johnson, 2003). Taking the patient to the hospital is also an option although nowadays very few people are exploiting that option. Lithium carbonate is the commonly used drug for treatment of the long-term bipolar disorder. Leahy & Johnson (2003) confirm that there are other options for treating bipolar disorder and they include, use of drugs such as ketamine, antipsychotics, and conducting psychotherapy on the individual. One of the most effective ways to treat bipolar disorder is by avoiding situations that trigger the episodes.

Conclusion

This essay has discussed the bipolar disorder in-depth and has identified several things about the disease. As noted in the paper, bipolar disorder is a mental disease although its severity cannot be compared to other mental conditions. In the introduction, the paper gives a brief preview and explanation of what bipolar disorder means. It then goes on to discuss the disease, its effects, and causes in an informative way. Lastly, the paper concludes by discussing some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder as well as offering a few treatment options.

References

Goodwin, F. K., & Jamison, K. R. (1990). Manic–Depressive Illness. New York. NY: Oxford University Press.

Leahy, R., L., & Johnson, S., L. (2003). Psychological Treatment of Bipolar Disorder. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Nordqvist, C. (2006). What Is Bipolar Disorder? What Causes Bipolar Disorder? Web.

Woody, K. (2013). The Effects of Bipolar Disorder. Web.