Bipolar Illness Essay

2573 words - 10 pages

Bipolar Illness

      Bipolar illness, also called manic depression, is misdiagnosed on the average of two out of three times; unfortunately it is an illness that kills one in four afflicted persons. Major psychiatric disorders such as bipolar illness make up half of the leading causes of disease related disability in the United States (

     Bipolar illness is a major psychological disorder characterized by episodes of mania, depression, or mixed moods. One or the other phase may be predominant at any given time; one phase may appear alternately with the other, or both phases may be present simultaneously. Causes of this illness involve biologic, psychological interpersonal, social and cultural factors (Mosby 193). It is a life-long illness, which requires life-long treatment. Lithium, a mood stabilizer, is usually one of the first prescribed medications. Sometimes psychotherapy is helpful when combined with the drug treatment. A regular routine is also helpful in letting a bipolar individual lead a more productive lifestyle. The reason that bipolar illness is misdiagnosed so often is because the person commonly focuses on the depressive symptoms rather than the manic symptoms, which occur also. The individual is either ashamed or afraid to tell the doctor about the manic side of the illness. Bipolar illness affects approximately ten percent of the population.

      There is no one cause for this illness. Some theories about what causes it are: genetics, stressful life events, and chemical imbalances ( Psychologists and neurobiologists argue whether ego damaging experiences and self-deprecating thoughts or biological processes cause the depression. The mind does not exist with out the brain. Considerable evidence indicates that regardless of the initial triggers the common pathways to depression involve biochemical changes in the brain. Geneticists have provided some concrete proof of a biological connection; manic depression frequently runs in families (Scientific American 42).

      It is not a discriminating illness; it affects all races and social classes. It has been said that Michealangelo would have produced three times the works we have today if he had been properly diagnosed and medically treated for manic depression. In 1982, Patty Duke was diagnosed as manic-depressive. She was relieved to finally have an answer to her alternating bouts of rage and despondency (Hales 42).

      Bipolar disorder has many effects on the families lives as well. They range from emotional to social issues; they deal with changes in family members and the structure of the family. The family must learn how to deal with the very real threat of suicide. After the diagnosis, many families may have a series of mixed emotions such as anger or extreme guilt. They may also feel ashamed or anxious. Sometimes they worry about having caused their loved one to become...

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