Bipolar disorder is a complex mood disorder characterized by extreme mood and behavior changes that seem unexplainable. Bipolar disorder has been associated with deterioration in the chemical genetics of the brain cells. The exact causes of bipolar remain unknown; however, bipolar has been linked to genetic and environmental influences. Bipolar disorder often develops during adolescence and early young adult years but has been found in children as young as seven. Although America has the largest population of bipolar patients, other countries are finding bipolar more prevalent in recent years. “Research has shown a strong biological component for this disorder with environmental factors playing a role in the exacerbation of symptoms” (Heffner Media Group, Inc., 2011). Neurological changes in the brain as well as psychological and biological changes occur as a result of bipolar disorder. This disorder may lay dormant for years but suddenly become activated on its own or triggered by external factors, such as psychological stress or certain social interactions. Many forms of treatment are available to help manage bipolar disorder. As research on bipolar disorder continues, new information about this disorder is known.
Bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a complex mental illness that involves extreme emotion and behavior patterns over a specific amount of time. There are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar type I, bipolar type II, and bipolar NOS (not otherwise specified). Most people experience typical high and low periods during his or her life; those with bipolar experience extreme forms of the typical highs and lows that last hours, days, weeks, or even months at a time. The difference in the types of bipolar can be found in the severity of impairment in behavior and functions. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by extreme mood swings. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (2011), bipolar disorder causes unusual and dramatic changes in mood, energy, and the ability to think clearly. Bipolar disorder inhibits the normal function of daily tasks; work, school, social skills, and thought processes are negatively affected by bipolar disorder.
There are some known causes for bipolar disorder; however, there are still possible causes that are unknown. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that occurs in specific areas of the brain, causing the dysfunction of certain neurotransmitters or chemical messages in the brain (Bressert, 1992). The dysfunction of chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are known to be a significant cause for bipolar disorder. Hereditary of bipolar disorder is common; half of the population with bipolar inherited the disorder from a family member. Parents with bipolar disorder have a 25% increased risk of passing the disorder to the child. Genetics as well as environmental factors play a role in the causes of bipolar disorder. The environment plays another important role in bipolar disorder; if a child is raised with a bipolar parent, the child may already predisposed to trauma, abuse, and neglect. Bipolar disorder also can be caused by medications or illicit drug use. Mania can be triggered by antidepressants, appetite suppressants, excessive use of over-the-counter medications, non-psychiatric medications, illicit drugs such as amphetamines, and excessive caffeine.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by intense emotional states of mind, which result in “extreme changes in mood, thought, energy, and behavior” (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 2009, para. 5). Bipolar disorder alternates between mania (highs) and depression (lows) or sometimes they occur simultaneously as a mixed state. Mood swings are recurrent and can change rapidly with the seasons, emotions, or a trigger. Bipolar type I is the most severe form of bipolar disorder resulting in failed relationships, unemployment, imprisonment, and suicide. Mania is often experienced as the most intense form of high with euphoric feelings, elevated self-esteem, and grandiosity. Loss of impulse control is common as spending sprees, gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, high risk-taking behavior, and an increase in sexual promiscuity. The person may become explosive, irritable, agitated, and restless. Oftentimes sleep is difficult to achieve as thoughts race during periods of mania. As soon as the high quickly fades, severe depression becomes apparent with longer sleep cycles, lack of interest in pleasurable activities, and poor to no decision-making skills. Thoughts of worry, emptiness, and suicidal thoughts are common during the depression episode. A mixed episode occurs when depression and mania occur together, such as hopeless but energized. Bipolar I patients typically require hospitalization when psychotic symptoms such as delusion and hallucinations appear.
Bipolar II has similar episodes but the behavior and functions are less intrusive. The mania experienced with bipolar II is called hypo mania because the symptoms do not cause impairment in occupational or social functioning that requires hospitalization. Bipolar NOS is a less severe type of bipolar. Lack of concentration, poor work or school performance, change in decision making skills, and sudden appetite changes accompany bipolar disorder.
Researchers have been studying individuals with bipolar disorder to determine the cause of hereditary in the genes. Although the exact cause of bipolar is not known, what is known about genetics and bipolar is it is often carried through generations with a particular chromosome. In studying the chromosomes, the researchers examine the genes, known as the building blocks of heredity. The chromosomes play a crucial role in how the brain and body work and also grow. Genes contained within a human’s cells are passed on to children from their parents. It is estimated that when a parent has bipolar disorder, a child is four to six times more likely to develop the illness later in his or her lifetime.Researchers are starting to find more data in regard to bipolar disorder with the advancements in technology. Some of the things that scientists are looking into are visible signs of the disorder such as traits, trying to link back to what gene may be causing them. Common behaviors or traits that are associated with bipolar disorder include family members hospitalized with psychiatric disorders; the number of manic episodes; obsessive compulsive disorders that co-occur with bipolar disorder symptoms and many others (National Institute of Mental Health, 2012). As scientists continue to study these traits that occur with bipolar patients, scientists will be link the traits to the genes causing the traits and eventually have a full understanding of how Bipolar Disorder develops as it transfers through the genes.
Bipolar disorder is a psychological, biological, and neurological complex illness. There is strong evidence of deregulation in the pathways of rational thinking, with the brain failing to regulate the emotional reactions (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2012). The inability to regulate thoughts, emotions, and impulses make bipolar disorder so difficult to overcome. Sensory and processing parts of the brain also contribute to the disorder. According to Broadhurst (2000), a scientific study found “phospholipid metabolism of the neuron cells play a crucial role in the development of mental disorders.” Bipolar is often linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain; the neurotransmitters of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are increased during times of mania and decreased during times of depression. Mood disorders such as bipolar disorder are commonly associated with inflammation in the brain, which causes the body to respond with physical or emotional stress. Stress plays an important role in bipolar, either creating a trigger for mania to occur to a trigger for depression. Sleep cycle and nutrition play important roles in the functioning of the neurons, which can reduce stress and decrease anxiety.
According to the DBSA (2009), A study from the World Health Organization's World Mental Health (WMH) collected data from Asia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Europe, and America; finding bipolar disorder is most prevalent in America (4.4%), affecting nearly six million adult Americans. The lowest rate of bipolar disorder was found in India, with 0.1%. Bipolar disorder that began during adolescence accounts for more than half of those who took part in the study. A study of 263 adolescents shows an increase in bipolar disorder in children ages seven to 17. According to the study, children experienced more symptoms and rapid cycling in moods than adults. Many children with bipolar disorder have a coexisting disorder, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Bipolar disorder typically occurs with at least one other disorder in more than 75 percent of the cases internationally. "Patterns of coexisting conditions were similar across countries" (DBSA, 2009, para. 3). The data from the studies show an international prevalence of bipolar disorder with increasing rates in children and adolescence. The rate of African Americans with bipolar disorder is the same among other Americans. However, most African Americans are untreated or undiagnosed. Lower socio-economic status is one factor in undiagnosed cases of bipolar; approximately 25% of African Americans are underinsured or not insured (Mental Health America, 2010).
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mental illness; constant treatment and interventions are necessary to maintain proper mental health. Medication, education, psychotherapy, lifestyle management, and support are a few ways to manage bipolar disorder. Dual diagnosis and integrated treatment of mental illness and addictions is beneficial to those with bipolar disorder; a combination of medication with psychotherapy is often times necessary to stabilize the dramatic mood swings and control symptoms. Medications typically used to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, or a combination of these medications. Becoming educated about bipolar disorder is an important step in managing the illness; learning new ways to cope with the illness and to become more aware of the symptoms are the key goals in education. Psychotherapy is a necessity for patients with bipolar disorder to maintain a balance in life. Psychotherapy can help the patient with daily struggles by discussing coping strategies surrounding relationships, feelings, stress, and mood regulation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and family-focused therapy are especially helpful when trying to manage bipolar disorder and the symptoms.
According to Smith, M., Segal, J., and Segal, R. (2012), “by carefully regulating your lifestyle, you can keep symptoms and mood episodes to a minimum.” Keeping a daily journal of sleep schedule, eating habits, exercise, and mood is one way of managing a healthy lifestyle. Avoidance of drugs or alcohol, stable exposure to sunlight, and maintaining a healthy diet and sleep schedule are some ways of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Because bipolar disorder is so complex and challenging, it is important to have a strong support of friends, family, or group members who can share experiences and life motivation. As knowledge of bipolar continues to increase, so does the chance for future prevention. Some newer therapies used together with medication, therapy, and lifestyle management. These newer therapies include light and dark therapy, mindfulness meditation, and acupuncture; termed complementary treatments. New medications are sought for the treatment of bipolar; this includes new mood stabilizers, which combat both mania and depression symptoms. Nuvigil and Provigil are currently being tested for their effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder, according to Wang.
As technology continues to broaden, two new tools may be effective at managing bipolar disorder; the positron emission tomography (PET) scan and the Trans-cranial magnetic system (TMS). The PET is effective at helping researchers identify which section of the brain functions during a particular circumstance. The PET replaces the need for the current magnetic treatment. The TMS is a machine that controls specific body parts by touching the machine to the head of the patient. The brain interacts with the TMS wand producing a strong magnetic pulse, which interacts with the brain. The effects of the TMS machine are closely monitored for improvement of patients with bipolar disorder.
An increasing number of individuals, more than 30 million, throughout the world struggle with bipolar disorder; overcoming barriers so they can be successful in their daily life can be challenging. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is needed to manage bipolar disorder. Educating society about bipolar will give a clear understanding of how the illness works; in behavior, biological, and neurological functions. Encouraging the steps for continued treatment, although challenging, is necessary. As technology advances new treatments, medications, and strategies are found to increase the success at managing bipolar disorder and living a symptom free lifestyle.
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Douglas, H., Hanyzewski, A., Loepke, D., Pavlick, M., andWatson, B.PSY/340 – Biological Foundations of PsychologyManon Doll
Genetic and environmental influences Adolescence and young adulthood Neurological, psycholo gical, and biological changes
Lifestyle Management Daily Journal Healthy Diet New Therapies Light/Dark Therapy Mindfulness Meditation Acupuncture New Medications Nuvigil and Provigil
Positron emission tomography (PET) Trans-cranial magnetic system (TMS)
All Psych Online. Psychiatric Disorders. Retrieved from allpsych.comMental Health America. (2010, Jan.). International Bipolar Foundation. BipolarDisorder and African Americans. Retrieved frominternationalbipolarfoundation.orgNational Alliance on Mental Illness. Bipolar Disorder – What is Bipolar Disorder?Retrieved from nami.orgNational Institute of Mental Health. (2012). Bipolar Disorder. Nimh.nih.govNational Institute of Mental Health. (2006, Feb.). Largest study to Date onPediatric Bipolar Disorder Describes Disease Characteristics And Short-TermOutcomes. Science Update News. Nimh.nih.govBroadnurst, L. (2000). Polyunsaturated Fats and Neurological Disorders. TheChiropractic Resource Organization. Chiro.orgBressert, S. (2012). Psych Central –The Causes of Bipolar Disorder (ManicDepression). Retrieved from psychcentral.comGosselink, L. (2008). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from Serendip.brynmawr.eduSmith, M., Segal, J., Segal, R. (2012, Jan.). Treatment for Bipolar Disorder.Retrieved from HelpGuide.org