Bipolar Disorder: Illnesses and Conditions

In today’s society, there has been an influx of talk and awareness being brought forward about mental illnesses and disorders”one of them being bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is commonly expressed in age groups from adolescents to senior citizens, severely impacting the lives of many. Bipolar disorder is a disorder that is characterized by mood swings and manic episodes. It is unknown what the cause of this condition is, but it is commonly believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and altered brain chemistry. About 2.3 million American adults suffer from this illness with about one percent of people over 18 years of age. Bipolarity does not only affect the sufferers, but it affects those surrounding the victims, thereby leaving an impact on today’s society. In America, more people are being diagnosed with bipolarity than in decades past. There is a significant backlash against the diagnosis of bipolarity (Bipolar Disorder).

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Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, has two main stages: manic episodes and depressive episodes (Mood Swings). According to Ken Duckworth in Depression Sourcebook, mania and depression both include a range of symptoms ranging in severity. Mania is defined as a heightened state where a person’s mood is elated and happy or irritable and unpleasant. During a manic episode, patients may experience increased energy, rapid speech, risk-taking, and impulsive urges. At the most severe, bipolar patients may engage in risky activity, sexual indiscretion, and substance abuse as a result of the impulsiveness. Depression is a state of prolonged sadness. During a depressive episode, the bipolar may experience a sharp decrease in daily energy, inability to focus, and change. At the most severe, the patient may experience suicidal thoughts and be unable to sleep, eat, or leave their bed. These episodes normally occur in consecutive periods, but, in a mixed state, the symptoms of mania and depression occur at the same time. Frequent episodes of illness within a year is known to be bipolar disorder with rapid cycling (pp. 33-34).

According to Jerrold B. Leikin and Martin S. Lipsky in their article Bipolar Disorder from the American Medical Association: Complete Medical Encyclopedia, there isn’t a known cause for this illness. Genetic inheritance of bipolarity may be a factor, as a person who has a parent or sibling with the disease is more likely to suffer from it than a person who lacks a close relative with the disorder. Bipolar disorder is equally common in men and women, where men first experience hypomania or mania, and women first experience depression. A woman is more likely to have a manic-depressive episode after the birth of a child, worsening days before starting her menstrual period (pp. 239-241).

To treat manic-depression, the Depression Sourcebook states:

While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, it is a treatable and manageable illness. After an accurate diagnosis, most people can achieve an optimal level of wellness. Medication is an essential element of successful treatment for people with bipolar disorder. In addition, psychosocial therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, family therapy, and psychoeducation are important to help people understand the illness and to internalize skills to cope with the stresses that can trigger episodes. Changes in medications or does may be necessary, as well as changes in treatment plans during different stages of the illness (p. 34).

Following the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, victims are usually prescribed drugs such as antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants to stabilize moody episodes. Antipsychotics are drugs used to treat psychosis, a symptom of bipolar disorder. There are two generations of antipsychotics. The first-generation antipsychotics may be linked to causing depression whereas the second-generation does not appear to be associated. Anticonvulsants are drugs used to treat seizures and typically treat epilepsy. Antidepressants are drugs used to treat depressive disorders. The use of antidepressants, however, in bipolar disorder is very controversial. Several studies found that tricyclic antidepressants may cause the patient to experience more manic episodes. Antidepressants are also linked to rapid cycling, which can be treated by discontinuing antidepressants. There is a little known effect of antidepressants in bipolar and unipolar patients, and they may, instead, cause mood-destabilization. Another important investigation of the drugs of bipolar disorder diagnosis is the effect of combined use of antidepressants and mood stabilizers. When the drugs are used together, patients, rather than experiencing fewer episodes, are more likely to fall into rapid cycling (Recent Advances p. 423).

In addition to pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy is a commonly prescribed treatment. If the treatments are followed correctly and consistently, there is a great success rate. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient develop their negative thoughts and behaviors into being less harmful. Therapies that are focused on family work on communicational and coping strategies within families. In the most extreme cases, patients may need to be hospitalized for their safety as a result of psychosis, risky behaviors, or thoughts of suicide (Calistro).

Manic-depression not only affects the patient but the patient’s family, friends, children, spouse, and others as well. In E. Fuller Torrey and Michael B. Knable’s book Surviving Manic Depression, Families are like mobiles When one member develops mental illness, it sets the whole family mobile in motion and affects each of its parts. An infected individual’s family will feel a sense of loss, while others outside of the family, may only see the person’s successes or public life. The reality for the families, however, is much different. Typically, families will also build anger and resentment in addition to the feeling of loss in a member of the family. Families must give up their personal time to care for the patient, indefinitely. The patient might also take up much of the financial resources, making it difficult for the families to live as lavishly as they might like to. Siblings to a manic-depressed individual will face similar issues, if not more. At a school-age, children are quick to stigmatize other children for being abnormal. When kids value their peers’ opinions, this creates shame and added resentment. Siblings might also be forced to take unwanted responsibilities because of the need for increased maintenance of the patient. Bipolar disorder has a lasting effect on everyone involved (pp. 283-291).

In conclusion, bipolar disorder is a mental illness that has physical repercussions. Although life as a manic-depressed patient is difficult, it is manageable through medicinal and therapeutic treatments. The effects of manic-depression, however, treated and untreated, may have severe effects on the patient, as well as on those immediately involved with the patient; these effects may be relieved with new treatments and increased awareness.

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Bipolar Disorder: Illnesses and Conditions. (2019, Nov 12). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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