Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is more than just ordinary mood swings. People suffer from periods of mania to periods of depression. Bipolar disorder is a significant medical condition that is a great health interest in America (Hopkins Medicine). The number of people being diagnosed with bipolar disorder increases every year; therefore, the importance of education and understanding of this disorder also increases because it can affect so many people’s lives.
According to Johns Hopkins medicine, manic depression affects more than 5.7 million American adults--or about 2.6 percent of Americans age 18 and older in a given year. Both sexes are affected equally. Bipolar disorder does not discriminate against race, ethnicity, or social class. Adolescence or early adulthood is when bipolar disorder normally begins, with 25 being the average age. Although researchers have not yet identified the gene, it is believed to be hereditary and likely runs in the family (Hopkins Medicine).
The precise cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but there are a few components that to may lead to bipolar episodes. Experts believe bipolar people have biological changes in their brain and an imbalance in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). Hormone imbalance is also believed to be a cause of episodes. People that have a blood relative with bipolar disorder have a greater chance of also being bipolar. When someone has a stressful, abusive event, or has suffered a great loss may also trigger bipolar (WebMD).
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary from mild to severe. The symptoms of mania consist of mood changes such as periods of feeling “high” or exceedingly happy and outgoing while also being agitated. People suffering from mania also have behavioral changes such as fast speech, mind racing, distractibility, unrealistic goals, little sleep, and impulsive behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, symptoms of depression consist of mood changes with periods of emptiness or worry, and loss of interest in enjoyable activities. Behavioral changes for people suffering from depression include feeling tired, being irritable, unable to focus or make decisions, changes in sleeping or eating, and thinking of death or suicide. People with severe periods of mania or depression may also experience hallucinations or delusions (National Institute of Mental Health). Patty Duke is an actress with bipolar disorder. Describing a hallucination she said, “The voice [on the car radio] told me someone was taking over the White House, and that I could be of assistance in this matter. I had to get to Washington! I was on a mission” (27). Bipolar people often have increased self-esteem; feel overly important, such as thinking they are a queen or messiah. They can even suffer from paranoia. (Torrey and Knable).
There are different kinds of bipolar disorder that all include periods of depression and mania. The different types are bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic...