Bipolar Disorder Causes & Risk Factors

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Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that can affect everyone of each race, age and gender. This mental illness is known as a mood disorder that causes uncontrollable shifts in moods from excited to severely irritable. Those suffering with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of mania or depression. Individuals that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder can also have symptoms of anxiety that can disrupt their cognitive behaviors, which can lead to substance abuse. In society today, there is a stigma of having a mental illness that can cause discrimination and become labeled as crazy or weird. To eliminate this reasoning, theories are implemented in recognizing the causes of this mental illness. Mental illnesses are at a rise for awareness in the United States as most individuals do not have the knowledge in effectively approaching this condition. The significance of the awareness of bipolar disorder and its effects on society is informative and relates to social work practice as groups and communities can form in the battle for effective treatment of this disorder because it helps inform people about its common factors biologically, environmentally, and physically. The factors can range from genetics, stress levels, or trauma. The models of intervention are also implemented to improve the assistance of their clients and their treatment. In reference to social work, social workers are involved to approach problems of bipolar disorder and the co-occurring symptoms associated with this illness in the micro and macro levels of social work practice. Social workers actively assess bipolar patients with therapy in groups, individually, or as a family unit in identifying factors that present prolonged relapse. Personally, bipolar disorder should be treated distinctly from other disorders as it is often misdiagnosed as other mental illnesses and the proper treatment will not be implemented. Once every individual with bipolar disorder is properly treatment with the most accurate medication, their daily lives will be aligned and they will no longer be compulsive nor disruptive with anxious feelings.


The psychoeducational model is an effective, therapeutic approach on educating bipolar individuals on the information of their illness and its treatment. Support and self-help groups constitute this model in forms of encouraging others to share information and approaches of their alike illness. This benefits the individual, their families and friends, and caregivers as an approach in beginning their initial step in treatment. Psychoeducation is considered a part of mental health practice which a person should (i) accept and recognize the authority of psychiatry to know them; (ii) come to see that they can moderate themselves; and (iii) see themselves as able to undertake a reflexive process of self?examination and change (Maree, 2017). A person accepts and recognizes their illness to get involved with their immediate positions to receive help. A person should also learn to moderate their behaviors through daily habits: eating, sleeping, taking medication. Lastly, the person should participate in changing how they think and what they do. This process falls into three stages of self-surveillance: separating the abnormal from normal, individualization, and specialization. The means of separating the abnormal from normal imposes on the need of contrasting normal and compulsive emotions. Individualization identifies one's own warnings or operational warnings (Maree, 2017), and specialization identifies the signals that precede the warning signs “ 'warnings of warnings' (Maree, 2017). Simply, to investigate further on earlier warning signs beyond the situation. Once the challenge of understanding bipolar disorder, the ability of personally coping and finding their own strengths can offer better control towards those suffering this illness.

Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) is plays a role in cognition with the behavioral pattern used to manage behaviors more commonly used for bipolar disorder individuals. CBT addresses an individual's beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors to improve that person's emotional responses and health (Gooding, 2013). This theory further describes CBT in reference to human behavior and the cognitive triad: the self, the world, and the future. Individuals with bipolar disorder may have feelings of depression and view the world as displeasure and think that their future will result in turmoil. In distinct from other theories, CBT handles current issues, rather than those of the past to focus on correcting the daily state of mind. This treatment can benefit in improving social abilities, practice watching your moods by journaling daily moods from a number scale, and balance a daily routine to prevent stress. Another method is to educate the person on their diagnosed mental illness.

The most effective treatment for bipolar disorder is psychotherapy, which is based on the cognitive model. The cognitive model explains the function of the brain and its association with the body. Psychotherapy, is a type of method that defines coping for those suffering from moderate to severe mental illnesses by eliminating or managing their difficult symptoms to promote healing. This can be conducted as a group, individually, or as a couple for both adults and children. In getting the most out of this therapy, it has shown by research to improve emotions and behaviors and to be linked with positive changes in the brain and body. The benefits also include fewer sick days, less disability, fewer medical problems, and increased work satisfaction (Parekh, 2016). Psychotherapy associates with other approaches for bipolar disorder. The approaches range from one-on-one sessions, to role play or music to channel one's emotions.


It is explained that an individual would may feel dull or lifeless and want to revisit that emotion that made them lively and alert. The substance, now, takes over their moods and they become dependent on the substance in order to function throughout the day. The dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse is defined to represent a significant comorbid population, which is significantly worse than either diagnosis alone in presentation, duration, co-morbidity, cost, suicide rate, and poor response to treatment (Farren, 2012). The dual diagnosis is explained to help the two separate disorders and control one illness to treat it for the other to be defenseless. The effects of bipolar disorder and substance abuse can affect anyone of gender, race, and age. Of the U.S. population, just over 2.8 million new users of illicit drugs in 2013, or about 7,800 new users per day (NIDA, 2015) were abused. It is known in our society that many people are diagnosed with bipolar disorder; however, it is evident that there are many treatments in counseling those with the disorder to help overcome their troubled issues.

According to the World Health Organization, 230 million people, or 1 in 20 adults, are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010 (Drug use, 2018). The abuse of substances affects the body's normal functioning and behavior of an individual, and has become a crucial problem in the United States for those with mental illnesses. As alcohol being the most commonly abused substance among bipolar individuals(Bipolar Disorder and Addiction, 2018), individuals abuse this substance more commonly as a calming comfort for their episodes of depression. Of the many drugs in the U.S., alcohol is more accessible and widely consumed as it is perceived as a recreational drug. Alcohol is known to alter moods of relief from tension and anxiety and promotes relaxation. In many cases, bipolar individuals are only consuming substances, like alcohol and pain medications, to control their symptoms instead of visiting a doctor and discussing medical help to manage in their own effective methods. One the other hand, there are most cases that harder substances, like cocaine and heroin, are abused to induce a manic state.


People with bipolar disorder often suffer from anxiety. This combination is dangerous as it can cause levels of energy and moods to elevate substantially to where the person cannot control themselves. Anxiety is a symptom of bipolar disorder that worsens the mental disorder. Anxiety is also a reaction to a stressor. It is a feeling of fear, unease, and worry. It can be rooted in any event that makes one feel frustrated, angry, or nervous (Difference between Anxiety and Bipolar, 2018). The impact of social anxiety, the fear of being judged or criticized in public, may occur alongside bipolar disorder. An individual can become stressed when they are encountered with an anxious situation. Although, it can be easily treated as he or she is able to manage the stressor. When an individual with bipolar disorder, with anxiety as a symptom, they are unable to control their elevated moods and often experience morbid irritability with extreme agitation and nervousness. It is clear to recognize the diagnostic of bipolar disorder co-occurring with anxiety. Common distinctive signs of a person with the diagnosis is averting from activities that may activate the feeling of anxiety and prolonged anxiousness even when not in a manic state. The individual's severe condition will become recognizable to everyone as they may not experience that fast thinking, but instead just an extremely disorganized thinking ” not being able to keep their mind on one thing for more than a few seconds, not being able to accomplish anything (Phelps, 2014). It is evident that the link between anxiety and bipolar disorder conjoins affecting a person's cognitive behavior. This combination is complex for individuals and often leads to substance abuse that worsens the disorder.


Manias are episodes of high, energetic moods that lasts a week or longer. People experiencing manic moments may suffer from irritability, have increased activity levels, have a lot of energy, talk really fast about a lot of different things (Bipolar Disorder, 2016) and insomnia. The depressive state is simply a biweekly period of intensive misery. The individual will have decreased activity levels, feel very sad, down, empty, or hopeless and feel like they can't enjoy anything (Bipolar Disorder, 2016). This can become overwhelming due to the fear of criticism or embarrassment perceived from others in society. The challenges faced with this illness are their uncontrolled actions and behaviors, searching for the most accurate mood-stabilizing medications, and the anxiety that accompanies the illness. As these social problems all accompany the condition, anxiety plays a role in the condition as it occurs together resulting in the uncontrolled mood swings.

Bipolar disorder is a common mental illness that affects the normal functioning of the brain and the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide (Akinhanmi, 2018). It is occasionally referred to as a mood disorder as an individual with bipolar disorder may experience phases of repetitive, mood-altering swings varying from calm to irritable and depressive. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder (Prevalence Of Mental Illness, 2015). Adults and children in the U.S. with bipolar disorder can, but have difficulties, live a normal life as everyone in society. Everyone experiences moodsbad, good, grumpy, and exciting oneshowever, this is different for those with bipolar disorder. Their moods are uncontrollable as they will experience highs and lows at odd times. For example, an individual can feel depressed at a birthday party and be ecstatic about an injury. An individual with bipolar disorder will endure unexpected episodes of intense changes in moods. These episodes will undergo symptoms of manic, depressive, or a combination of both symptoms.


Every citizen in the United States can be diagnosed with a mental illness in their earlier or later years of life. This illness can affect nearly each normal functioning component of a person's body and cause brain dysfunctions. In each year, almost 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.43.8 million, or 28/5% - experiences mental illness (Prevalence Of Mental Illness, 2015) in their lifetime. Mental illnesses, with a lack of understanding, are viewed as a stigma, a disgrace or prejudice against the mentally ill. This stigma creates discrimination to those with mental illnesses leading to the response of stating that they are crazy, nuts, a freak, or weird. Most illnesses are revealed through biological, psychological, or environmental factors. Genetics, stress, traumatic incidents, viral infections, anxiety, and substance abuse are common causes in explaining the development of mental illnesses. One common mental illness that develops from anxiety and stress is bipolar disorder.

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Bipolar Disorder Causes & Risk Factors. (2019, Aug 07). Retrieved June 15, 2024 , from

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