Psychology Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder


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Bipolar disorder is affecting over 2 million American adults. This averages out to be about one percent of the population over the age of 18. Normally bipolar disorder develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, but many people have their first symptoms during childhood and others may develop this condition later in life. bipolar disorder is not categorized as an illness and most people go for years without the proper diagnoses and any treatment. Both males and females are affected equally and there are no significant differences in prevalence among racial groups. It is a long-term illness that you must learn to carefully manage as it will be with you throughout your life.

Bipolar disorder or manic depressive illness is a disorder in the brain. It causes the person to have unusual shifts in their moods, energy, and even the ability to function. Every person has their normal moods of high and low, but those with Bipolar Disorder have severe changes in their moods. These severe mood swings have resulted in broken relationships, poor performance at work or school and some people have ended their lives with suicide.

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. This brain disorder can cause extreme changes in mood, energy, and ability to function, and is often disabling if it goes untreated. In cases that have been left untreated, there is an associated high risk of suicide, approximately 15%. However, if bipolar disorder is effectively treated and managed, people with the condition can have a good quality of life.

The form of the illness that involves periodic episodes of hypomania and depression is known as Bipolar 1 Disorder. People affected by Bipolar 2 Disorder experience milder episodes of mania that alternate with depression.

When 4 or more episodes occur within a year, the condition is called rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. However multiple episodes affect some people every week and some even daily. Rapid-cycling is more common among women and usually develops later in the course of the illness.

Hypomania is a mild to moderate level of mania that requires proper treatment, even though the person experiencing this level of mania may function very well and feel fine. If left untreated, hypomania can sometimes become severe or can change into depression.

Some people, however, experience a mixed bipolar state. Symptoms of both depression and mania may be felt at the same time, including anxiety and other psychotic disorders, trouble sleeping, a marked change in appetite, or suicidal thoughts. A person may feel very sad, yet feel extraordinarily energetic.

Bipolar disorder can be seen as a continuous spectrum of mood states, ranging from severe depression to moderate depression, to mild low mood. At the middle is the ‘normal’ mood state, rising to mild-moderate mania, and at the far extreme is severe mania.


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