Bipolar Affective Disorder Bipolar affective disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, has been identified as a major psychiatric disorder that is characterized by exaggerated mood and behavior changes, ranging from episodes of high euphoric moods to deep depressions. Persons afflicted with this disorder typically do not experience mood variability, however their moods are highly stable at either end of the mood continuum. The type, severity, and duration of mood disorders vary from person to person. The mood episodes can last to a few days to as long as several months. Approximately 1 to 2 percent of the population suffer from this illness, occurring equally in both men and women. The onset of this disorder is typically displayed around 20 and 29 years of age.

There are two main classifications of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I is diagnosed when a person has symptoms of manic episodes and has had no depressive episodes in the past. However, a depressive episode often follows after the first manic episode occurs. Over 90% of people with Bipolar I experience two or more manic episodes in their lifetime. Bipolar II patients have a depressed mood followed or preceded by a hypomania episode, in which they never have a fully developed manic episode. Some people with bipolar disorder also experience a mixed-episode.

People in mixed states alternate their manic and depressive states on a daily basis for at least a week. Cyclothymia disorder is a persistent, but relatively mild form of bipolar disorder, which involves fluctuations of mania and depression. In a bipolar disorder, the manic episode is characterized by an unusually euphoric or irritable mood. The person generally displays a significant rise in self-esteem, believing that he or she can do things that they have no talent or training to do.

They become extremely sociable, aggressive, and even violent. One of the most common symptoms of mania is a decreased need for sleep. With high levels of energy, people may need only a few hours of sleep, or even go for days without sleep and still remain energetic and refreshed. Speech becomes loud, fast, and difficult to interrupt, and he or she may exhibit talking much more than usual.

Persons with bipolar disorder may also be more susceptible to distractions, and find it difficult to carry a conversation for any length of time. During the manic episode, a person may also exhibit a symptom known as a racing of thoughts, or flight of ideas. Thoughts are poorly connected, often switching from topic to topic, and have loose connections between these topics. Logical reasoning is considerably hindered.

This lack of judgment contributes to the involvement of pleasurable activities that often lead to negative consequences. For example, a person may spend a lot of money on strange and excessive purchases, become a compulsive gambler despite their losses, and also may become sexually reckless. High levels of activity are often aimed at completing work or social goals in the manic stage. A person experiencing this symptom may begin many different projects at one time than is realistically possible, however they do become extremely productive with this increased energy. Some research suggests that of the most famous writers, artists, and leaders are said to be afflicted with bipolar disorder because of the enormous outburst of creativity and productivity experienced in a manic episode. The symptoms of depression are generally the opposite of those seen in a manic episode.

A depressive episode is characterized by a depressed mood and a decline in interest in activities N. that would ordinarily be pleasurable. In a depressive episode, many individuals experience problems with concentration and decision making. An individual becomes pessimistic, sad, gains a sense of worthlessness, as everyday become problems overwhelming. Generally, he or she feels apathetic towards life, even neglecting basic hygiene and normal daily habits. They often give themselves negative self-evaluations, unrealistic self-blame, and also a sense of guilt.

Thoughts of suicide are extreme as their sense of hopelessness and pessimism deepens. Their future seems very dark, with little hope of recovery, and believes death is the only solution to their problems. Many times, an individual becomes sad for no reason at all. This chronic sadness often leads to excessive crying. The person may claim a loss of energy, and spend a majority of the day napping. Minor physical activities feel like a huge exertion of their energy, and become he or she become extremely sluggish.

Social withdrawal becomes readily apparent, no longer finding comfort in the hands of close friends and loved ones. Some depressed individuals also report feelings of agitation, and act out in anger. Sexual desire also tends to disappear. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping, is common.

Some depressed individuals are frequently plagued by insomnia, and find difficulty falling asleep, become restlessness during the night, or wake up earlier than usual. Others sleep many hours, even most of the day, although they may still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down by depression, and complain of many physical problems. There are many factors that influence the etiology of bipolar disorders. One of the strongest causes has been linked to genetic vulnerabilities. Data from family, twin, and adoption studies have positively demonstrated that involvement of genetic factors aid in the transmission of bipolar disorder, and the likelihood of family relatives of contracting the same illness.

According to the National Research of Mental Health (N IHM), research suggests that the vulnerability of this disorder is produced by the interaction of multiple genes and environmental factors, which play a role in how these genes may be expressed. Close relatives of people suffering from bipolar illness are 10 to 20 times more likely to develop either depression or manic-depressive illness than the general population, attributing to more than two-thirds of people with this illness. If one parent suffers from manic-depressive illness, a child has a 12-15 percent risk of suffering from a depressive disorder; if both parents suffer from manic-depressive illness, the children have a 25 percent chance each of developing a depressive disorder or manic-depressive disorder Genetics can also influence the susceptibility of bipolar disorder by creating a predisposition of a biological chemical imbalance in the brain. According to this theory, an imbalance of one neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, is thought to cause the symptoms of bipolar disorder. During manic episodes, a person s brain may contain unusually high levels of norepinephrine, and low levels during depressive episodes. Often, the onset of this chemical imbalance, which triggers bipolar disorder, is active when stress from puberty, adulthood, or physical or psychological trauma occurs.

As a result, an individual may not have a genetic predisposition to the disorder, however the presence of another illness, altered health habits, substance abuse, or hormonal fluctuations can also influence the normal chemical imbalance in the brain. The environment can also influence psychological development. Observational learning can also attempt to explain how people learn to manage stress, respond to life problems, and develop behavioral aspects to their personality. For example, if a child grows up in a pessimistic environment, in which discouragement is common and encouragement is rare, that child will develop a vulnerability to depression as well.

Very often, a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors are involved in the development of bipolar disorders. A variety of medications are used to treat bipolar disorder, however Lithium Carbonate, a naturally occurring element, has been used as the primary treatment. It has proven highly effective in calming the patient during a manic episode and preventing the reoccurrence of both manic and depressive episodes. The drug generally takes 2 to 3 weeks to become effective, and has many unpleasant side effects. Anticonvulsant medications, particularly valproate and carbamazepine, have been used as alternatives to lithium in many cases.

Some research suggests that different combinations of lithium and anticonvulsants may be helpful in the treatment of this disorder. During a depressive episode, people with manic-depressive illness commonly require treatment with antidepressant medication. These antidepressant medications interact with neurotransmitters in order to stabilize the levels of chemicals in the brain, which are the cause of the disorder. Along with medication, psychological counseling can help the individual suffering with this disease to cope with the life management problems created by bipolar disorder. In addition to treatment, support from self-help groups, and an especially a loving family can greatly benefit the patient deal with their problems.

Bipolar affective disorder is a lifetime disease. Almost all people with bipolar disorder, even those with the most severe forms, can obtain substantial stabilization of their mood swings and live normal lives. Many brilliant and successful people have reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder and have been able to function successfully in society with competent and responsible treatment. In order to keep the individual s mood controlled, ongoing treatment is needed throughout the individual s life, even when symptoms of bipolar disorder seem to fade away. However, individuals function accordingly much like normal individuals, with the complete ability and capacity to succeed and carry on to live a full life..