How To Understand Bipolar Disorder

There have been many known links made to the history of Bipolar Disorder since the 19th century. Its meaning has been debated and argued by Roman and Greek thinkers such as Hippocrates, who referred to it as melancholia, meaning “black bile,” which was one of the four major physiological fluids at the time. Soranus of Ephesus described it as “a form of disease of mania.” It also has biblical roots in the similar conditions experienced by King David and Job.

Today, it is more popularly known as Bipolar Depression. Also known as manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, it is a psychiatric condition that pertains to mood disorders such as mania or hypomania. There are four types of Bipolar Disorder based on the type and severity of mood episodes:

  • Bipolar I (Manic)
  • Bipolar II (Hypomanic)
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (Combination of manic and hypomanic)
  • Bipolar Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)

This psychiatric condition normally occurs as early as a person’s twenties, and in some cases has been observed with children. Though Bipolar Disorder patients would show different patterns of behavior, it has been found that children experience more rapid mood swings and higher levels of anxiety than adults.

The reason it is called bipolar is due to the fact that people who have Bipolar Disorder experience mania (intense moods) at times and hypomania (low emotions) at other times.

Among the major symptoms of mania are:

  • Increased bursts of physical and verbal energy
  • Sleeplessness
  • Aggressive behavior and irritability
  • Erratic driving and poor judgment
  • Lack of concentration

Hypomanic patients would demonstrate the following symptoms:

  • Excessive anxiety and feeling of fatigue
  • Abnormal sleeping patterns
  • Feelings of guilt or anger
  • Irritable mood
  • Suicidal thoughts

Though there is not a single precise answer to how someone acquires Bipolar Disorder, scientists believe that this condition can be directly attributed to the imbalances of neurotransmitters in the human brain. There are also theories that genes affect it, and that if a close relative has Bipolar Disorder, someone in the family could have it as well, though verification of this theory is still underway.

Also, since many environmental factors play significant roles in the condition of the human mind, factors such as death in the family or divorce and other extremely stressful life events have been considered as contributing elements to Bipolar Disorder. And with the human brain activity under attack during a manic or hypomanic episode, this condition has caused and will cause many detrimental effects in terms of costs for psychiatric treatment and lost productivity for the patient. Health-wise, patients who have arthritis, asthma, hypertension and diabetes are feared to be negatively affected by this mental state.

Bipolar Disorder continues to be untreated today, as doctors and researchers have yet to find a cure. The best available treatment for Bipolar Disorder patients is for them to work closely and cooperate with their respective psychiatrists or physicians, especially for patients with other medical conditions. More than that, the support of their family and loved ones will matter the most until we hopefully find a cure for Bipolar Disorder.


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