To understand one's mind usually takes an entire lifetime. Through the labyrinths of thoughts and events sometimes the mind cannot handle everyday happenings as well as others. Emotions and moods become roller coasters which have no seatbelts. Episodes of serious mania and depression are outlined feelings through a disease called bipolar disorder.

Take account this person's explanation of there minds flips and turns through everyday happenings: "I doubt completely my ability to do anything well. It seems as though my mind has slowed down and burned out to the point of being virtually useless… [I am] haunt[ed]... with the total, the desperate hopelessness of it all… Others say, "It's only temporary, it will pass, you will get over it,' but of course they haven't any idea of how I feel, although they are certain they do. If I can't feel, move, think or care, then what on earth is the point?' "At first when I'm high, it's tremendous… ideas are fast… like shooting stars you follow until brighter ones appear… All shyness disappears, the right words and gestures are suddenly there… uninteresting people, things become intensely interesting Sensuality is pervasive, the desire to seduce and be seduced is irresistible. Your marrow is infused with unbelievable feelings of ease, power, well-being, omnipotence, euphoria… you can do anything… but, somewhere this changes. The fast ideas become too fast and there are far too many… overwhelming confusion replaces clarity… you stop keeping up with it– memory goes.

Infectious humor ceases to amuse. Your friends become frightened… everything is now against the grain. you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and trapped.' Bipolar disorder typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life. It is often not recognized as an illness and people who have it may suffer needlessly for years or even decades. Bipolar disorder involves cycles of mania and depression.

Signs and symptoms of mania include discrete periods of: Increased energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapid talking Excessive "high' or euphoric feelings Extreme irritability and distractibility Decreased need for sleep Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers Uncharacteristically poor judgment A sustained period of behavior that is different than usual Increased sexual drive Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior Denial that anything is wrong Signs and symptoms of depression include discrete periods of: Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being "slowed down' Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions Restlessness or irritability Sleep disturbances Loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical disease Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts It may be helpful to think of the various mood states in manic-depressive illness as a spectrum or continuous range. At one end is severe depression, which shades into moderate depression; then come mild and brief mood disturbances that many people call "the blues,' then normal mood, then hypomania (a mild form of mania), and then mania. Some people with untreated bipolar disorder have repeated depressions and only an occasional episode of hypomania (bipolar II). In the other extreme, mania may be the main problem and depression may occur only infrequently. In fact, symptoms of mania and depression may be mixed together in a single "mixed' bipolar state. A variety of medications are used to treat manic-depressive disorder.

But even with optimal medication treatment, many people with manic-depressive disorder do not achieve full remission of symptoms. Psychotherapy, in combination with medication, often can provide additional benefit. More than two-thirds of people with manic-depressive disorder have at least one close relative with the illness or with unipolar major depression, indicating that the disease has a heritable component. Studies seeking to identify the genetic basis of manic-depressive disorder indicate that susceptibility stems from multiple genes. Despite tremendous research efforts, however, the specific genes involved have not yet been conclusively identified. Scientists are continuing their search for these genes using advanced genetic analytic methods and large samples of families affected by the illness.

The researchers are hopeful that identification of susceptibility genes for manic-depressive disorder, and the brain proteins they code for, will make it possible to develop better treatments and preventive interventions targeted at the underlying illness process. Bibliography Albanese, Catherine L. Corresponding Motion: Transcendental Religion And The New America. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1977. B 905. A 43 Barbour, Brian M.

American Transcendentalism; an Anthology of Criticism, 1973. S 217 T 7 B 3 Boller, Paul F. American Transcendentalism, 1830-1860: An Intellectual Inquiry. NY: Putnam, 1974.

B 905 B 64 Buell, Lawrence. Literary Transcendentalism; Style and Vision in the American Renaissance. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1973. PS 217 T 7 Cameron, Kenneth W. Concord Harvest; Publications of the Concord School of Philosophy and Literature with Notes on its Successors and other Resources for Research in Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott and the Later Transcendentalists. Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1970.

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