Characteristics of Bipolar Disorders
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain
disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and
ability to function (Mental Help Net, 2004). Different from the normal
ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar
disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor
job or school performance, and even suicide.
Bipolar Disorder is broken down into two types:
Bipolar I: For a diagnosis of Bipolar I disorder, at least one manic
or mixed episode clearly is or has been present (APA, 2000). DSM-IV
Criteria for Bipolar I Disorder consists of:
One or more Manic or Mixed episodes
Commonly accompanied by a history of one or more major depressive
episodes, but not required for the diagnosis.
Manic or Mixed episodes cannot be due to a medical condition,
medication, drugs of abuse, toxins or treatment for depression.
Symptoms cannot be accounted for by a psychotic disorder.
Mania is sometimes referred to as the other extreme to depression.
Mania is an intense high where the person feels euphoric, almost
indestructible in areas such as personal finances, business dealings,
or relationships. They may have an elevated self-esteem, be more
talkative than usual, have flight of ideas, a reduced need for sleep,
and be easily distracted. The high, although it may sound appealing,
will often lead to severe difficulties in these areas, such as
spending much more money than intended, making extremely rash business
and personal decisions, involvement in dangerous sexual behavior,
and/or the use of drugs or alcohol. Depression is often experienced as
the high quickly fades and as the consequences of their activities
becomes apparent, the depressive episode can be exacerbated (APA,
Bipolar II: Similar to Bipolar I Disorder, there are periods of highs
as described above and often followed by periods of depression.
Bipolar II Disorder, however is different in that the highs are hypo
manic, rather than manic (APA, 2000). In other words, they have
similar symptoms but they are not severe enough to cause marked
impairment in social or occupational functioning and typically do not
require hospitalization in order to assure the safety of the person.
A person's family history and genetics (diathesis) often play an
important role in the greater likelihood of someone having bipolar
disorder in their lifetime (Mental Help Net, 2004). Increased stress
and inadequate coping mechanisms to deal with that stress may also
contribute to the disorder's manifestation. Bipolar disorder is most
often experienced as a swing between a manic and a depressed mood,
which may often be related to increased stress or other event in a
person's normal life (Mental Help Net, 2004). Nearly...