Bipolar Disorder, often called Manic Depression, is a medical condition that
involves severe mood swings in an individual. It is a lifetime condition that needs to be
treated to keep it in remission (APA). It is not just a mental illness, but a medical disease
involving the brain.
The disease progresses as the years pass and the frequency of mood changing
episodes becomes more frequent (MHN). Bipolar Disorder involves depressive and manic
phases. With the symptoms presented, clinicians often misdiagnose patients as
Bipolar affects an individual’s thoughts, feelings, health, behavior and ability to
function. The disease is not a result of a weak personality, as many people believe.
Instead, it is a medical condition where there is an instability in the transmission of nerve
impulses of the brain (neurotransmitters) that signal appropriate moods (NDMDA). The
bipolar patient responds with inappropriate mood swings independent of what is going on
around them (APA). Bipolar compromises the judgment of those that suffer from it.
Some even experience hallucinations (Shalala).
The disease of bipolar itself is classified as Type I and Type II. Type I are those
that have had prior episodes of mania. One percent of Americans are diagnosed with this.
Type II are those that have hypomania phases only (Shalala). A very small percentage (.6)
of Americans have Type II.
Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. There is no discrimination when
it comes to mental illness (MDA). Cycling is defined by the shifts from one phase to
another. Women are more prone to the more rapid cycling. This is due to the different
hormone changes in the female body. A male is apt to cycle every two to four years, while
a female may cycle four or more times annually (Shalala).
The best way to understand bipolar is to learn about the different phases that an
individual experiences. There are four different phases: depressive, manic, hypomania
and mixed episode (APA).
The depressive phase can last for several months. The patient will show depressed
behavior daily, weight loss, diminished pleasure, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, lack of
concentration, restlessness, insomnia or hypersomnia (over sleeping), impaired functioning
and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms are present without any evidence of drug or
alcohol abuse (Long). Any thoughts of death or suicide should be taken seriously.
The word mania comes from the French and means crazed or frenzied (Shalala).
In the manic phase, the individual sleeps only a few hours, yet is feels perfectly rested.
They tend to be talkative, distracted and overly goal-oriented. Unfortunately, they seldom
follow through with their goals. Pleasurable activities become very important, particularly
those that involve high risk. The ego becomes inflated beyond reality and their thoughts
and ideas race continuously (Long).
Hypomania is a much milder form of mania. In this...