The psychological disorder I decided to study is bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health bipolar disorder is defined as “a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity level, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
” There are four types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic Disorder, and Unspecified Bipolar Disorder. People with bipolar I experience episodes of mania and depression. Mania can be described as a mood state where a person can experience elevated, expansive, or extremely irritable moods. Depression can be described as a disorder that affects how someone is feeling, thinking, handling daily activities, sleeping, eating, and working.
People with bipolar II is a lesser case than bipolar I. While bipolar I reaches full-blown episodes of mania, bipolar II never really reaches a full maniac episode. People with bipolar II do however experience hypomania which is a mild form of mania which is just elevated moods and hyperactivity.
Cyclothymic disorder is defined by WebMD as “a relatively mild mood disorder.” People with cyclothymic disorder suffer from mild depression and hypomania. Someone with unspecified bipolar disorder is typically someone who is on the bipolar spectrum. Someone who experiences some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, but not to the extreme effect. Nearly everyone is at risk for developing bipolar disorder. People who have an immediate family member with the disorder have a better chance at developing the disorder.
The disorder usually shows itself in young adults; from early teens to mid 20s. Symptoms of bipolar disorder range from extreme manic episodes to mild depression and hypomania. Manic episodes, if untreated, can last anywhere from a few days to 6 months and depressive episodes can last up to a year.
People with bipolar disorder can go weeks or even months without experiencing any symptoms and wake up one day and experience a full blown manic episode. The depressive episodes usually follow manic episodes, a way of your brain shutting down after being so elevated. Although depressive episodes follow manic episodes sometimes symptoms won’t start showing for weeks or months. Ways you can tell if someone is experiencing a manic episode can include symptoms similar to ADD or ADHD. People in the middle of a manic episode have trouble focusing on one idea or subject and tend to jump from one idea to another. Another symptom that is easily noticeable is someone speaking unreasonably loud and fast, this symptom is especially noticeable if the person doesn’t usually speak this way.
Another symptom that is similar to symptoms of ADD or ADHD is an increase in energy/ hyperactivity and a lesser need for sleep. People in the middle of a manic episode may show an increase in confidence or cockiness and hypersexuality. Substance abuse and excessive spending are also symptoms of a manic episode. Example of these symptoms being shown may be if someone buys an excessive number of items that they do not need or have the money for, sleeping around when it is not something they would usually do, and creating unrealistic plans or ideas. Many people experiencing a manic episode lose touch with reality or become delusional. Symptoms of a depressive episode can come off as someone being unmotivated or uncaring towards life. People experiencing a depressive episode can have persistent feelings of sadness and have difficulty sleeping or excessive amounts of sleep. People may also eat more or less to fill a void they feel.
Usually in the middle of a depressive episode people with withdraw from social interaction or lose interest in activities or hobbies they once loved. A depressive episode counteracts a manic episode of feeling an immense amount of energy and motivation to feeling completely unmotivated and incredibly fatigued. People in a depressive state also have trouble concentrating or remembering and have negative thoughts. People in this state feel helpless and hopeless and often don’t want to seek help because they believe no one ca help them feel better. Common treatments for bipolar disorder do mainly include medications.
Mood stabilizers is a common treatment. Lithium is commonly used to treat manic episodes. It can take weeks to start working, but it maintains someone’s mood and prevents someone from experiencing manic or depressive episodes.
Valproate is an antiseizure medication that works faster than lithium and can stop and prevent manic episodes from coming on. Other antiseizure medications are commonly used to prevent or stop manic and depressive episodes. Antipsychotic medications are used to treats severe manic episodes, sometimes used with lithium or antiseizure medications. Benzodiazepines have been used as “mild tranquilizers” as a short-term treatment to control acute symptoms like agitation or insomnia but does not treat symptoms like euphoria or depression. Antidepressants have also been used to treat the depressive episodes, but some antidepressants have been known to worsen the manic symptoms from the disorder. Unfortunately, with bipolar disorder there isn’t just one pill to take to fix it all, like most mental illnesses. Bipolar disorder is mainly treated with medications because there is a chemical imbalance in the brain that can’t just be fixed with therapy. Doctors often prescribe a cocktail of different medications to counteract all the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
With each medication comes different side-effects so when trying new medications, the patients have to be monitored by friends and family and have to attend doctors’ appointments regularly. The patients also need to be properly informed of any side-effects they may experience so they know the signs. Other than medications another form of treatment that has a bad reputation is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Nowadays this treatment is safe and has been used to treat severe manic and depressive episodes. This treatment is typically used when medications are not working, and it relieves symptoms of the disorder. This treatment has been an effective treatment and tends to bring relief to the patient. Treatments that have been used with medications has been different forms of therapy. psychotherapy being one.
Psychotherapy helps people manage stress, notice their symptoms before they become extreme, have healthier relationships, and regulate their thinking and emotions. Psychotherapy is a way for someone to learn about their mental illness and notice how it affects them in their lives. It teaches people how to manage their symptoms and makes them feel prepared for uncommon symptoms that may appear. It’s a form of therapy where the patient can talk about their day and realize the symptoms they experienced and take steps to prevent those symptoms from appearing again or being able to manage them. Psychotherapy encourages patients to set attainable goals for themselves and notice when symptoms are preventing them from reaching their goals. Psychotherapy has been extremely effective with multiple mental health disorders and make patients feel more equipped to live their life alone without feeling completely dependent on friends, family, or medications.