1) Bipolar Disorder – What is it?
- a condition where a person has an experience of alternating periods of depressed moods and periods of manic or excited moods
- No one knows what exactly causes bipolar disorder. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry reports “the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of overstimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder.” Researchers have known for decades that a link exists between neurotransmitters and mood disorders, because drugs which alter these transmitters also relieve mood disorders. Some studies hypothesize that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause. Others indicate that an imbalance of these substances is the problem - i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters. Still other studies have found evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the issue.
- A factor involved is stress. A "stressful life event" can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job, from the birth of a child to a move. It can be pretty much anything, but it cannot b
However, once the disorder is triggered and progresses, "it seems to develop a life of its own. On average, without treatment, manic or hypomanic episodes last a few months, while depressions often last well over 6 months. People with mania typically lack insight, deny anything is wrong, and angrily blame anyone who points out a problem. In hypomanic episodes, the individual may have an elevated mood, feel better than usual, and be more productive. Characteristics associated with mania include: Irritability Euphoria Hostility Decreased sleep Rapid speech, racing thoughtsDifficulty focusing attention Abundance of energy Inflated self-esteem Grandiose or lofty plans Poor judgment and recklessnessHypersexual feelings Mania often begins with a pleasurable sense of heightened energy, creativity, and social ease-feelings that can quickly escalate out of control into a full-blown manic episode. With that in mind, research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. It"tms equally common in men and women in the United States. Although most individuals who experience a manic episode return to full functioning, they remain at risk for recurrent episodes of mania. A small number of people cycle frequently or even continuously through the year. Episodes can last days, months, or sometimes even years. Antipsychotic medication is used to control severe mania. People vary in the types of episodes they usually have and how often they become ill. There are different patterns of bipolar disorder. It sometimes results from "chasing" depressions too hard with antidepressants, which may trigger a high, followed by a crash.