Bipolar Disorder

By: Simran and Harman

Definition

  • is a mental/mood disorder due to the abnormal functioning of the brain
  • causes sudden and unpredictable mood swings
  • identified through the presence of emotions that are usually uncontrollable and irrational

Causes

  • as of now, there is no single cause
  • scientific studies indicate that it may be genetically inherited; however, this is not known for certain
  • linked to brain structure and functioning
  • can also be caused due to environmental factors and stress
  • through brain imaging, it is seen that individuals diagnosed with bipolar have a smaller, and lower functioning prefrontal cortex
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Symptoms

  • individuals experience a range of emotional states; however, emotions are highly intense
  • extreme states of emotions are known as "mood episodes"
  • overexcited, joyful periods associated with hypomania - manic episodes
  • extremely depressing periods - depressive episodes
  • if these states of emotions are both present, it is referred to as being a mix state
  • individuals may act and respond irrationally and be very irritable during a mood episode
  • individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also experience dramatic shifts in energy levels, activity, sleep, etc.
  • individuals will not be able to maintain focus and become incapable of completing simple tasks
  • individuals may speak more rapidly
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Who Suffers?

  • mostly young adults
  • at least half of the cases start before the age of 25
  • both men and women suffer at the same rate

Diagnosis

There are currently four types of bipolar disorder:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder: manic or mixed episodes last longer than seven days, symptoms are severe enough to require hospitalization, depressive episodes last longer than two weeks
  2. Bipolar II Disorder: obvious pattern of depressive and manic episodes, symptoms are not as severe as bipolar I disorder
  3. Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: symptoms do not match requirements of bipolar I or bipolar II disorder
  4. Cyclothymia: symptoms are not severe, usually diagnosed through the presence of depression that has lasted for longer than two years



Treatments

  • is not curable, but can be managed over the long-term
  • is a lifelong illness that requires ongoing treatment in order to control the severity of the symptoms
  • medication treatment is available: mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and the use of antidepressants
  • psychotherapy is used alongside medication (cognitive behavioural therapy, family-focused therapy, social rhythm therapy)
  • other treatments: sleep medication, herbal medication, etc.