Bipolar Disorder: Its Causes and Effects At least 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, more commonly known as manic-depression. This illness usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life.
Although it may come into affect at any time, most individuals with the disorder experience their first mood episode in their 20s. However, manic-depression quite often strike teenagers and has been diagnosed in children under 12. The risk of suicide among persons afflicted with bipolar illness is unrealistically high. As many as 1 in 5 people with this disorder have committed suicide. This rate is nearly 30 times greater than that of the general population.
Research suggests that people who commit suicide, whether depressed or not, tend to be more impulsive in their behavior. Manic-depressives, due to their spontaneous nature, are more likely to commit suicide than depressives. Manic depression involves alternating episodes of serious mania and depression. An affected persons mood can swing from excessive highs (mania) to deep hopelessness (depression), usually with periods of normal mood in between. Some individuals may display mixed symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time, while others may have fewer symptoms of mania (also referred to as hypomania).
The type severity, and duration of mood episodes may vary. Some individuals may experience excessive mania, or excessive depression, and some may experience an equal amount of both. The mood episodes can last for a few days to as long as several months, especially when left untreated or not treated effectively. Usually a person with bipolar disorder can expect an average of ten episodes of either mania or depression in their lifetime, but some individuals experience much more frequent mood episodes. Some characteristics of mania include: increased energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapid talking; excessive euphoria; extreme irritability and distractibility; a decreased need for sleep; unrealistic beliefs in ones abilities and powers; uncharacteristically poor judgment; unusual behavior; an increased sexual drive the abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications; a provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior; and a denial that anything is wrong. Some characteristics of depression include periods of: persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood; feeling of hopelessness or pessimism; feelings or guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities; decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being “slowed down”; difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions; restlessness or irritability; sleep disturbances; loss of appetite or weight, or weight gain; chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical disease; thoughts of death or suicide; and suicide attempts.
There are also several types of bipolar disorders, depending on the nature of the illness. The main types are Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar I disorder includes individuals who have had at least one full manic or mixed mood episode, and may or may not suffer from episodes of depression. Bipolar II disorder includes persons who have had at least one depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but never experience a full manic or mixed mood episode. Bipolar II may go unrecognized because the hypomanic symptoms may not appear that unusual. Cyclothymic disorder includes individuals who have suffered numerous hypomanic and depressive symptoms over at least 2 years that are not severe or not long enough in duration to meet the criteria for a mood episode.
The subtypes of bipolar disorder include: rapid cycling, seasonal pattern, and post-partum onset. Individuals who experience more frequent mood episodes (4 or more per year) are called rapid cyclers. Some persons have predictable seasonal patterns to the onset of their mood episodes. Post-partum onset describes the time in which the mood disturbance occurs within 4 weeks of childbirth. Extensive research displays that mental disorder are derived from chemical glitches in the brains “complicated network” for signaling between nerve cells in the brain. Scientists believe that depression is related to a deficit of neural transmitters- either the chemicals norepinephrine or serotonin, at important synapses in the central nervous system.
In experiments with animals and humans, an increase in serotonin has been associated with less aggression, irritability, and impulsive behavior. However, it is believed that mania is related to .