Bipolar disorder is defined as a chronic mental condition with the ability to cause mood swings and the inability to make decisions clearly. Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder present both high and low moods which are clinically known as mania and depression. Mania and depression vary from typical ups and downs, and if left untreated, they can get worse over time.1 Despite worsening symptoms, most affected individuals can lead a better life with a good treatment program. Bipolar disorder is an adverse condition which has the ability to cause risky behaviors characterized by suicidal tendencies. It can also be managed through therapy and medication. Our Orange County bipolar treatment center is here to provide these services.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition, typically experienced in early adulthood with an onset age of 25 years.2 However, in some cases, bipolar disorder can be diagnosed in childhood or in older years. In the USA, it is estimated that about 2.9% of bipolar cases are diagnosed on an annual basis with approximately 83% categorized as severe.3 Research shows that the condition affects both men and women equally. Since its conception, physicians have made great strides to have a full comprehension of the various moods involved in the classification of bipolar disorder to make an accurate diagnosis. Prior to this groundbreaking discovery, doctors had challenges in differentiating bipolar disorder from other conditions such as depression and schizophrenia. However, having a greater understanding of the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, doctors have been able to better diagnose bipolar disorder, improving the management and treatment of the condition.
Despite the common presentation of manic episodes or hypomania as defining features of bipolar disorder, depressive episodes are observed throughout the course of the condition. Depression is a major cause that results in the inability to function normally in daily activities for a period of two weeks. Many individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder present symptoms of depression. In a longitudinal study involving 146 bipolar I disorder patients, subjects showed subsequent depressive symptoms which were three times more than manic symptoms. In another study that involved 86 bipolar II disorder patients, subjects spent approximately 50% of the time during the study presenting depression symptoms. Depression ranges from severe to moderate to low, and when presenting in a chronic form it is called dysthymia.
Individuals presenting symptoms of depression show other major signs that challenge their daily functioning. For instance, depressed persons present a significant loss of interest in things that they previously had passion engaging in. Other symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, inadequate sleep, feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, and suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are elevated during depressive episodes, with approximately 17% of individuals diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and 24% of individuals with bipolar II disorder attempting suicide during the course of the condition. In the worst case scenario, approximately 8% of men and 5% of women with bipolar disorder die from suicide. Moreover, research shows that about 0.4% of individuals with bipolar disorder succumb to suicide annually. Notably, significant cases of suicidal thoughts and actual suicides are reported during depressive episodes over the course of the disease.
Mania is also a major symptom of bipolar disorder. For an individual to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder they must present signs of mania or hypomania. Hypomania is categorized as a milder form of mania, with symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations and delusions. Individuals who have been diagnosed with hypomania have the ability to function typically in a social or professional situation. The experience of mania and hypomania differs from one individual to another where some people experience the symptom regularly while for others it is a rare experience.
Some people may enjoy the experience of mania. Especially when experienced shortly after an episode of depression, the experience may go beyond the control of an individual. Thus, elevated moods get to an uncontrollable level when they become irritable, adversely affecting behavior and individual judgment. Also, individuals in mania episodes tend to make reckless decisions and behave impulsively. During these occasions, they are frequently unaware of the adverse consequences of their actions.
Additionally, in a manic state, it’s common to exhibit features that pose challenges to daily functioning. For instance, individuals may present signs of inflated self-esteem, outspokenness, and elevated levels of over-familiarity. An observer may report unkemptness and inappropriate dress code from the affected individual. Additionally, individuals in a manic state may talk excessively, and their speech may be faster and louder than usual. In its severe form, a manic state renders speech incoherent and difficult to understand. Also, an individual may find it difficult to be calm and concentrate, and may find it necessary to use gestures in their expression.
Bipolar disorders are linked to genetic risk factors, and research has been useful in providing evidence of genetic transmission in bipolar cases. Twin studies and familial research have shown a close link between inheritance and bipolar disorder.
Approximately 60% of individuals inherit mood disorders from family members and relatives. Despite this association, demonstrating genetics and genetic phenotypes have been a difficult concept to explain. Notably, the issue of inheritance is complex and is not consistent with the specific gene model for bipolar disorder, with the exception of a few family cases.
Studies have been essential in demonstrating that bipolar disorder is a familial disease. Individuals with parents or siblings diagnosed with bipolar disorder have an increased risk of developing the disease or another related psychiatric disorder. Additionally, these people have a high susceptibility to developing unipolar major depression, which provides major insight on the close link between the two conditions. Research involving the study of both monozygotic and dizygotic twins (in which none the twins are affected with bipolar disorder) consent with the genetic transmission of bipolar disorder. For instance, monozygotic twins with bipolar probands have an approximate risk of 40 to 70% in developing bipolar disorder with a concordance rate of 60%, which is higher than in dizygotic twins. Research has been using the variation of concordance rates between dizygotic and monozygotic twins to approximate the effect of genes causing bipolar disorder.
Beyond Bipolar: Finding Happiness After Diagnosis
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