Bipolar disorder is one of the most common cognitive behavioral disorders and it affects people of all ages. The disease has very many names that the psychologists and psychotherapists use to describe it. The disease is also called manic depressive disorder, affective disorder or manic depression. It is a condition that is characterized by the presence of extra ordinary levels of energy in the body of a person, leading to development of modal episodes that affect behavior (Earley, 2006). The disease creates mood disorders and some low level depressive episodes. The elevated modal episodes are psychologically referred to as mania, but in their mild form, they are referred to as hypomania. One characteristic of the modal episodes is depression. Sometimes, mania and depression combine to form more severe manic episodes but there are intervals in the development of this disorder where the victim experiences normal moods. Elevated manic episodes have more serious symptoms such as delusion and hallucination. Going by the severity of the modal episodes experienced by a victim, the disorder is divided into three main types. The three main types are bipolar one, bipolar two and Cyclothermia.
Phases of bipolar disorder
There are various stages of the disease. The least severe form of the disease is called hypomania and one of the major symptoms of this stage is feelings of euphoria because of elevated levels of energy. The condition affects mood and can lead to bad decision making strategies that can be harmful to interpersonal relationships, careers and one’s reputation.
The other phase of this disease is mania or manic depression. This stage is occasioned by heightened energy levels that create euphoria and some levels of creativity and over productivity. There is loss of sleep, hyperactivity and fast talk in the victims of the manic phase of the bipolar disorder (Behrman, 2002). The victims feel great and their activities normally spiral out of control. At this stage of the disease, it is almost impossible to differentiate it with ADHD. When hit by a manic episode, the victims become very reckless. They can make foolish investments, gamble away their savings or indulge in risky sexual activities. Their levels of irritability go up and can easily pick fights in this state of mania. Delusion and hallucinations are other symptom of manic depression. There is a difference between depression and bipolar disorder. Most people are not able to differentiate these two conditions mainly because depression is the major symptom of the bipolar disorder but bipolar disorder has more severe symptoms apart from depression. Even some clinicians are not able to identify bipolar disorder and end up treating depression which leads to the development of the disorder because treating depression treats part of the disorder. The treatment of bipolar disorder can only be successful if the actual cause of the depression is identified (Lovelace, 2008). Medication can only buffer the symptoms of the manic disorder but the best way to treat this disorder is the identification and the treatment of the root causes of the disorders. One of the root causes is depression but clinicians should not focus on depression alone.
Myths and facts
There are some myths about this disorder that need to be debunked.
One of the commonly held myths is that the bipolar disorder victims cannot heal or lead ordinary lives. However, many victims of this disorder are successful in their careers and businesses, lead happy lives and take care of their families’ responsibly. Living with this disorder is quite challenging but proper treatment accompanied by proper coping skills can make the lives of the victims more comfortable, helping them to lead ordinary lives and succeed. The other myth that that bipolar disorder affects mood only. The fact is that the disorder affects other aspects of personality like memory, concentration, judgment, patterns of sleeping, self confidence and the sexual ability. The disease also leads to many other conditions like diabetes, migraines and hypertension (Simon, 2002). People with this disorder are highly likely to involve themselves in substance abuse and are highly susceptible to anxiety disorders. The other myth that is commonly held by people is that there is no other thing that can be done to contain the disease apart from medication. The truth is that medication is a very important step in the treatment of the bipolar disorder but it cannot work alone. For full recovery to take place medication must be used alongside physiotherapy and self support strategies. Symptoms of the bipolar disorder can be controlled through regular exercise, eating right and avoiding stressful situations. When a victim of this disorder is surrounded by people who are supportive, the symptoms can easily be controlled because depression is kept at bay.
Bipolar disorder and suicide
The depressive phase of this disorder usually has severe symptoms and one of the most possible risk factors is suicide. There is a high probability of suicide cases from victims of bipolar disorder than from victims of other forms of depression. There are several warning signs of suicide. These include frequent talk about self harm, feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness. The other warning is possession of pills or weapons that appear lethal and incessant talk about death.
People with bipolar disorder undergo a lot of stigma especially when they are living with people who have never lived with victims of the disorder or people who are insensitive about their condition (Raeburn, 2004). There are various forms of sufferings that the victims of bipolar disorder undergo as a result of the high levels of stigmatization in the society. These people are treated as second rate citizens and they are not respected by most people. Due to their extreme behaviors, the victims of the diseases are often isolated by the rest of the society and this has negative ramifications because it usually impacts of their depressive condition.
It is evident that the disorder is a serious social condition that has the ability to wreck the lives of the victims. The myths that are commonly held about the disease are mostly used to stigmatize those people that suffer from the disease. However, the facts that have been laid out will help people to understand the victims more and provide the necessary social support because medication without self and social support is not enough to treat this disorder. The understanding of the various behaviors that can signal suicide is one of the best human protection methods because this will help in monitoring the victims to ensure that cases of suicide do not arise. The other human protection method has been outlined in the analysis of the general symptoms of the disease. The understanding of the symptom of the various phases of the disorder is important because it will help in the administration of protective measures for both the victims and the people living with the victims of this disorder.
Behrman, A. (2002). Electro boy: A Memoir of Mania. New York: Random House
Earley, P. (2006). A father’s account of his son’s bipolar disorder. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Lovelace, D. (2008). Scattershot: My Bipolar Family. New York: Dutton Adult
Raeburn, P. (2004). Acquainted with the Night: A Parent’s Quest to Understand Depression and Bipolar Disorder in His Children. New York: Sage
Simon, L. (2002). Detour: My Bipolar Road Trip in 4-D. New York: Simon and Schuster.