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Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorders are one of several medical conditions called depressive disorders. Depressive disorders affect the way a person's brain functions.

Depressive disorders are widespread. In the United States alone, it's estimated that more than 17.4 million adults have a depressive disorder each year. That works out to about 1 out of every 7 people, so there's a good chance that you or someone you know is dealing with a depressive disorder.

Bipolar disorder or manic–depressive disorder, also referred to as bipolar affective disorder or manic depression, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or more depressive episodes. The elevated moods are clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypomania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes, or symptoms, or a mixed state in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time. These events are usually separated by periods of "normal" mood; but, in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate, which is known as rapid cycling.

Bipolar disorder is classified into four different types: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic Disorder, or Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Mental health experts separate the condition into these four types because the symptoms of bipolar disorder show up differently in different people. When doctors know what type someone has, they can tailor treatment to that person's specific needs.

Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people experience abnormally elevated (manic or hypomanic) and, in many cases, abnormally depressed states for periods of time in a way that interferes with functioning. Not everyone's symptoms are the same, and there is no simple physiological test to confirm the disorder. Bipolar disorder can appear to be unipolar depression. Often bipolar is inconsistent among patients because some people feel depressed more often than not and experience little mania whereas others experience predominantly manic symptoms. Additionally, the younger the age of onset—bipolar disorder starts in childhood or early adulthood in most patients—the more likely the first few episodes are to be depression.

Symptoms

  1. Depressive episode
  2. Manic episode
  3. Hypomanic episode
  4. Mixed affective episode

Causes

  1. Genetic
  2. Physiological
  3. Environmental

Treatment

Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy). More >>

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