Bipolar disorder or recurrent psychosis is a mental disorder consisting of abnormal mental status, energy and operational ability change of a person. Thus, a sequence of manic episodes and depressive episodes appears. Unlike changes in a person’s mental state during normal life, symptoms of this disease are more severe. Due to the variety of sensitiveness, an individual with this disorder can’t maintain friendly relations, has trouble at work, has poor performance and can even reach suicide. Typically, bipolar disorder begins in adolescence. Sometimes, however, it can develop from early childhood or even later, at old age.
People who have extreme mood changes from depression to severe manic episodes, may suffer from bipolar disorder.
During manic episodes of bipolar disorder, sufferers tend to have a euphoric mood, be hyperactive, restless and without feeling the need to sleep. They often spend large sums of money, which lead to severe financial problems.
During depressive episodes, people with this disorder are sad, feel hopeless, guilty and / or worthless and have low energy. Bipolar disorder is a disease that also affects the patients’ relatives.
Causes of bypolar disorder:
The causes of bipolar disorder vary among individuals. Studies of monozygotic twins show a substantial genetic contribution but the environment also has a great influence.
- Childhood experiences:
Some long term studies indicate that children who receive a late diagnose with bipolar disorder may experience early symptoms such as cyclical affective abnormalities, major depressive episodes and possibly ADHD. Hypersensitivity and irritability may be present.
- Experiences of adult life:
Data suggests that environmental factors play a significant role in the development and evolution of bipolar disorder, and that individual’s psychosocial variables interact with genetic predisposition. There is evidence that life events and interpersonal relationships contribute to the onset and recurrent episodes of abnormal emotionality, as well as recurrence of depression. It has been demonstrated that half of the adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder report traumatic childhood events, such events being associated with early onset, recurrent episodes of negative evolution and disease.
- Neural processes:
Researchers believe that structural and functional abnormalities of brain circuits can provide the basis for disorders of emotionality. Some studies have found anatomical abnormalities in areas such as the amygdala, the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Yet, despite 25 years of research there is still debate on the neuroscientific elements.
It has been suggested that a hipersensitivity in the eye-lovel melatonin receptor activity is a trustworthy indicator of bipolar disorder.
Episodes of mania and depression are repeated throughout the life of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, most patients do not show any symptoms between the manic or depressive episodes. Only one third of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder present some symptoms (yet unexplained) between episodes of mania and/or depression.
- Bipolar disorder type I
Bipolar disorder type I is the classic form of the disease in which patients have periodic episodes of mania and depression.
- Bipolar disorder type II
Is the form in which patients do not develop severe mania but go through episodes of hypomania that alternate with milder depression.
- Rapid cycling bipolar disorder
You can talk about rapid cycling bipolar disorder when patients exhibit more than four manic or depressive episodes.
When it comes to long-term prospects related to patients with bipolar disorder, it is important to understand the disease with and without treatment.
Without proper treatment, the disease tends to worsen over time, depressive and manic episodes become increasingly severe. Episodes also tend to be more common.
On the other hand, when appropriate treatment is followed, patients with bipolar disorder can have a normal and productive life. Much of the therapy will help reduce the frequency and severity of manic episodes and/or depression, thus patients can enjoy life.
The role of medication and psychosocial treatment
It is important that bipolar disorder is treated as soon as possible whilst under medical supervision. Most people who suffer from bipolar disorder can achieve a stabilization of the mood swings and symptoms associated with them, if they follow appropriate treatment. Recurrent bipolar disorders are diseases in which long-term therapy is required. To control the disease in the long term, a combination of medication and psychosocial treatment is the best treatment plan.
Drugs known as “mood stabilizers” are usually prescribed to stabilize mood swings of bipolar disorder patients. These drugs are administered over long periods of time (years). Drug treatment may be associated on short-term with other therapies to treat episodes of depression or mania that occur despite treatment for mood swings.
Atypical antipsychotic medication is also used in the treatment of bipolar disorder. These products have a special value in the treatment of manic episodes and help alleviate psychotic symptoms.
Lithium has been used for a long time as a first choice treatment for anger control. It prevents both depressive and manic episodes.
Anticonvulsants also serve as a mood stabilizer, particularly in patients who respond well to treatment. Sometimes they are administered in combination with lithium or its alternative.
High-power benzodiazepines facilitate a peaceful sleep for patients suffering from insomnia. However, because these drugs can be addictive they can only be administered if the physician agrees and only for a short period of time.