Bipolar Disorder

Mood disorders are mental disorders characterized by disturbance in one’s mood. The mood disturbance may be severe and may include depression, mania, or hypomania, or any combination of these.

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder. It entails swings in mood from elation to depression without identifiable external cause. The patient experiences swings from depression to mania. In the manic phase of this disorder, the patient may show excessive, unwarranted excitement. They may also show poor judgment and recklessness and may be argumentative. A manic person may speak rapidly, have unrealistic ideas, and jump from subject to subject. They may not be able to sleep. These symptoms are major characteristics of bipolar disorder for a specific period of time lasting for a few months. Hospitalization can often be necessary to keep the person from harming themselves and others. Bipolar disorder has another side, the depressive episode. Bipolar depressed patients often sleep more than usual and are exhausted. Distinguishing it from major depression, they usually has trouble sleeping and is agitated. Irritability and withdrawal symptoms can be seen during bipolar depressive episodes.

There is still no identifiable reasons as to what causes mood disorders. There are chemicals in the brain, called endorphins, that are responsible for positive moods. Other chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, regulate endorphins. Most likely, depression and other mood disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Life events such as unwanted changes in life may also contribute to a depressed mood. Also, genetic factors could be a prospect in causing bipolar disorder. Since it is related to depression, a gene may be responsible for the occurrence of the disorder. And this gene may be triggered by the environment, such as serious life-changing events. Evidence suggests that environmental factors play an important role in the development and course of bipolar disorder, and that individual psychosocial variables may interact with genetic dispositions.

Moreover, some limited long-term studies indicate that children who later receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder may show subtle early traits such as sub-threshold cyclical mood abnormalities, full major depressive episodes, and possibly ADHD with mood fluctuation. Hypersensitivity and irritability can also appear. There is some disagreement whether the experiences are chronic. An account of stimulant use in childhood is found in large numbers of bipolar patients and has been found to be a reason of an earlier onset of bipolar disorder, worse clinical course, independent of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Bipolar disorder is often treated with mood stabilizer medications, and sometimes other psychiatric drugs. Psychotherapy also has a role, often when there has been some recovery of stability. In severe cases in which there is a risk of harm to oneself or others involuntary commitment may be used; these cases generally involve severe manic episodes with depressive episodes with suicidal intention.

Making a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is quite a complicated case. The reason is due to the fact that the pattern of highs and lows varies in every patient. There are some people where mania or depression can last for weeks or months, even for years. For some, bipolar disorder takes the form of frequent and dramatic mood shifts.

According to Michael Aronson, MD, a clinical psychiatrist, there’s a whole spectrum of symptoms and mood changes that have been found in bipolar disorder. It’s not always dramatic mood swings. In fact, some people seem to get along just fine. There is productivity even in manic periods. They think things are going great. The danger comes when the mania grows really worse. Changes can be very dramatic, with catastrophic results. People can get involved in reckless behavior, spend a lot of money, there may be sexual promiscuity, sexual risks. The depressed phases can be equally dangerous: A person may have frequent thoughts of suicide.

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