Bipolar Disorder (manic-depressive illness) has been defined as a major affective mood disorder in which one alternates between the mental states of deep and brutal depression and embellished elation. These cyclical episodes are a catalyst for noticeable psychosocial impairment.
Bipolar Disorder also affect’s one’s cognition, emotions, perceptions, and behavior- along with psychosomatic presentations (such as pain with depressive episodes, for example).
It is thought to be due to a physiological dysfunctional brain in one affected with bipolar by many. Yet Bipolar allows for exceptional abilities when a bipolar person is in their manic phase at times.
The etiology for bipolar disorder is unknown. As many as half of those suspected as having a bipolar are thought to have at least one parent with some sort of mood disorder similar to bipolar disorder, which suggests a genetic predisposition may be present.
Because of the complexity associated with bipolar disorder, greater than 50 percent of those afflicted are misdiagnosed as major depression, or perhaps schizophrenia.
It is also believed that bipolar presents itself with symptoms associated with the definition of bipolar when one is between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. The disorder was entered in the psychiatrists’ bible, the DSM, in 1980, although bipolar disorder is thought to have existed for quite some time.
Also, those with bipolar are thought to be in possession of heightened creativity during their manic phases, as well as they have accelerated growth of their neurons. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it seems. Conversely, those with bipolar disorder experience up to 3 times the number of depressive episodes as manic ones.
Research has determined that as many as 15 to over 30 percent of bipolar patients commit suicide if they are left untreated, or undertreated. Also, as many as half of those affected with bipolar also have at times severe substance abuse issues along with their bipolar as well. Co-morbid medical conditions should be taken into consideration when evaluating one suspect of, or having bipolar disorder.
Bipolar patients are also often experiencing anxiety issues that vary, and are treated often as a result of these medical issues. The disorder varies as far as severity goes- with some bipolar patients being more severely affected than others.
In fact, there are at least 6 classifications of bipolar, according to the DSM.
Bipolar patients are thought to be symptomatic half of their lives. As stated previously, the depressive episodes occur more frequently than manic ones. When symptomatic, bipolar patients are thought to be rather disabled, according to some, when in their depressive state in particular.
The diagnosis has become more frequent recently. In one decade, the assigned diagnosis of bipolar rose from being about 25 per 100 thousand people to being 1000 per 100,000 people.
Most diagnosed with bipolar are not diagnosed based on solid, comprehensive, or psychiatric review that is often absent of valid or standard diagnostic methods. Some believe as many as 5 percent of the human population may be affected by bipolar disorder- which may include as many as 12 million people in the United States.
This is if the diagnostic criteria developed by others were to be fully utilized. An emphasis should be implemented by the health care provider to utilize available clinical evidence, and review this scientific literature.
A subjective questionnaire called the Mental Status Examination is often utilized when diagnosing one suspected has having bipolar disorder. Many believe the diagnosis has increased recently due to the progressive treatment options now available.
It is an argument of increased awareness versus over-diagnosis.
Yet the diagnosis is vague, as children and adolescents are often absent in research with bipolar. Also, there is not any objective diagnostic testing to rely upon for bipolar. There is also a mental diagnosis of what is called mixed depressive disorder, which is one with depression who also has minimal manic episodes.
Many younger than 18 years of age are prescribed atypical anti-psychotics as first line treatment, which is largely not recommended as treatment options. In fact, close to half a million of those younger than 18 years of age are prescribed the atypical anti-psychotic Risperdal alone, it has been determined. The class of medications overall is thought to be prescribed to about 10 percent of those non-adults thought to have bipolar.
While not recommended, about a half of all those assessed as being bipolar are prescribed antidepressants, such as SSRIs, as first line treatment. It has been suggested that this class of drugs has decreased the risk of suicide attempts compared with other classes of antidepressants for close to 20 years.
Yet tricyclic antidepressants have been determined to be efficacious in over half of those diagnosed with bipolar - with a greater amount of research behind this class of drugs. Furthermore, therapy with any antidepressants has been associated with what is known as treatment-emergent mania.
This is when a bipolar disorder that is in a depressive state rapidly enters a manic phase. This occurrence can be unmanageable by the bipolar disorder patient.
The most recognized treatments for bipolar long term are lithium (Ekalith or Lamictal- along with an anti-convulsant. Sugar intake is thought to vex the symptoms of one with a bipolar disorder as well.
Atypical anti-psychotics have been prescribed for bipolar, which change some aspects of the brain, physiologically, as does the disease itself. In fact, one may argue the brain becomes more efficient due to both the disorder and the treatment with the atypical anti-psychotics. Yet many recommend the utilization of this class of drugs with bipolar disorder only if psychosis is present as well.
As many as 15 percent of bipolar disorder patients diagnosed as such are prescribed an atypical presently. This class of medications may be particularly beneficial for those women who are diagnosed with bipolar who are pregnant, however.
Lithium, which is essentially a very light metal with low density in which the salts are obtained for medicinal treatment, and an anti-convulsant are believed to be standard bipolar treatment, pharmacologically, studies have shown. This is due to Dr. John Cade and his examination with lithium and its benefits with those who have psychotic excitement close to 60 years ago.
Ekalith is believed to be both neuro-protective as well as having an anti-suicidal affect in those believed to be bipolar- and is viewed as a mainstay as far as treatment for bipolar goes with many who treat the disorder.
Lithium is thought to regulate the calcium molecule in the brain, so this and valporate are historically the medicinal treatment options preferred for those with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar is difficult to detect, and is often diagnosed as major depression with many affected by this disorder. There is no objective criteria protocol available to utilize when assessing any patient believed to be suffering from any mental disorder.
So such mental disorders that are diagnosed are ambiguous, yet that does not conclude that such disorders do not exist, such as the case with bipolar disorder.
Yet perhaps a health care provider should be very thorough and knowledgeable when assessing a patient believed to have a mental condition such as bipolar.
As should the health care provider keep in mind that the ultimate goal with this disorder is to stabilize the mood of the one affected.
Author’s note: What has been annotated is based upon information and belief.