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Bipolar Disorder Essay


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Bipolar Disorder


The understanding of various aspects of mental disorders continues to increase as the society becomes more enlightened on the associative symptoms. This importantly helps in building a conducive environment through which people suffering from the various disorders can coexist amongst other people. Moreover, it provides an avenue for research through channels such as the government and the private sector for matters such as funding and legislation. Bipolar disorder continues to afflict many people across the world with more cases being reported in certain regions more than others. This can be attributed to cultural and social economic factors which tend to influence the perceptive tendencies when it comes to matters of mental health (Lichtenstein et al. 235). Consequently, the attention given to people suffering from such disorders will vary and in worst cases can only be termed as neglect. This indicates the need for a more community-based approach when dealing with mental disorders as a means of creating a conducive environment during treatment.  

According to Frank et al. (594), bipolar disorder is mainly characterized by the showing of extreme moods at different times. During such periods, a patient with the disorder tends to exhibit sudden mood changes in addition to fluctuations in their emotional reaction. During this period, the patient may tend to exhibit emotional highs which are characterized by being hyperactive (Whitton et al. 7). While this may show a significant boost to their output, it soon shows tendencies of recklessness and the inability of the person to tell of the risk they are putting themselves into eventually. On the other hand, a person suffering from bipolar disorder may show signs of emotional lows a clear indication of depressive phase (Frank, Swartz, and Kupfer 601). Such emotional fluctuations make interactions with other people in the society quite difficult. This provides a clear indication of the need for more research and awareness to be directed towards understanding mental disorders and treatment be provided where possible. 

Prevalence of the disorder in the US

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (n.p), the prevalence of bipolar disorder in the United States is about 4 percent which shows that the disorder is quite a common occurrence. Further research has revealed that up to 7 percent of US citizens tend to suffer from the disorder at one particular period during their lifetime (CDC n.p.). However, the research further indicates that half of the people may not receive proper and timely diagnosis which indicates there still exists a lack of awareness in spite of the initial sensitization attempts undertaken. Other countries also tend to show high numbers of people living with the disorder regardless of the socio-economic status surrounding each. The disorder tends to be common in adults with the median age being 25 years although it tends to manifest much earlier in men than in women. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (n.p.), the rate of hospitalization is much higher for a patient suffering from bipolar at 39.1 percent as compared to 4.5 percent observable from patients living with other behavior related disorders. 

Diagnosis and symptoms

The symptoms shown by a person suffering from bipolar disorder largely depend on the emotional episode they are experiencing at each particular time. The erratic nature in which the episodes occur means that such people are prone to be misunderstood since the episodes occur randomly and at different levels of intensity (Kilbourne et al. 372). When one is experiencing the manic episode, excessive expression of happiness and excitement is common. This expression of happiness can also change suddenly to a show of hostility even after a slight provocation. Poor judgment at this stage is common given that the person with the disorder can barely recognize that their actions are outside of their normal self (Martínez-Arán et al. 265). Poor judgment can also be seen in unrealistic nature of plans they make at the height of the manic episode. One also tends to be restless and showing signs of being more energetic than they would normally be (266). This can be very confusing to people they have not interacted with previously.

During the depressive episodes, patients with the disorder tend to display a lack of energy and impulse to undertake any activity (Frank et al. 594). This is combined with slowed behavior where even the patient may result in sleeping excessively. Other symptoms include an excessive feeling of being fatigued which can be attributed to low energy levels. The patient also tends to remain most of the time in a depressive mood which can come in the form of hopelessness and lack of pleasure in undertaking any activity. Patients also tend to have a hard time concentrating on one issue thus further incapacitating their ability to make decisions quickly (Martínez-Arán et al 267). The depressive episodes can also result in weight loss or gain compounded by the interference of the patients’ appetite. Moreover, patients tend to express self-worthlessness which further increases the risk of suicidal thoughts as the depressive feelings increase. 

Bipolar disorder significantly affects an individual’s social life given that it relates to behavior expressed. According to Whitton et al. (7), shifting behavioral tendencies tend to make it difficult to form meaningful relations with other people. The situation becomes further complicated when the patient is placed among strangers who have no immediate knowledge of the disorder. Misunderstandings can easily arise in such a situation since the patient has no direct control over how they behave at that particular moment. This is common even among family members where some might view some behaviors during manic episodes as a means of extorting the family towards a certain objective. The patient also tends to become a risk even to workmates in spite of high energy display especially during the manic episodes since their judgment is poor. According to the CDC (n.p.), patients suffering from bipolar disorder tend to spend double the amount out of pocket as compared to other patients. This is an indication of an additional financial burden on the families.  


The treatment process of those suffering from bipolar disorder involves administration of medication typically to assist in controlling mood swings among other symptoms. For greater effectiveness, the process also includes psychotherapy. The medications usually used in the treatment include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and atypical antipsychotics (Kilbourne et al. 370). Apart from the various side effects associated with such medication, the decision to stop usage should be made a practitioner since if the disorder rebounds afterward the symptoms tend to worsen. When psychotherapy is applied as a treatment option, some of the activities undertaken include psychoeducation where all the necessary education on the disorder is provided to the patients and immediate family. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also employed which helps to increase behavioral awareness and possibly offer the patient a chance of being to retain some control during the various emotional episodes (Frank et al. 598). Also, family-focused therapy is offered to assist in the creation of a supportive environment by reducing stressors that are known to course relapse such as stress.   

Research by Phillips et al. (315) has shown that among people suffering from bipolar disorder, there exist differences in brain structure. This is true even when the brain structure is compared to that of other people suffering from other forms of mental disorders. This illustrates that there is still more that can be done to address the reason behind differences in structure which could significantly help towards coming up with a more effective treatment process (Lichtenstein et al. 236). However, given the influence of family history as being among the risk factors towards the development of the disorder, more research should be undertaken to determine the role played by genetics in such a scenario. This will be key towards the development of treatment options that are specific for each patient rather than mass generalization. This should be effective in the long run given that the intensity of the symptoms and their recurrence tend to be unique to each.


The erratic behaviors depicted by people with bipolar disorder provides a basis on which better understanding of the condition can be developed. Education and sensitization are paramount in order to create an environment conducive enough to the healing process and the prevention of a relapse. Given the financial burden that the families are exposed to, necessary legislation leading to a reduction of the healthcare cost would be helpful (CDC n.p.). In addition, more funding should be provided towards research projects concerned with coming up with better treatment options for bipolar patients. Success in such projects would also significantly help in the treatment of other mental disorders common in the population. However, a more significant role towards healing is to be played by the immediate family given their proximity and the fact that bipolar is a lifelong disorder. This not only helps in preventing rebounds but also the identification of symptoms early enough.  

Works Cited

“Burden of Mental Illness.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Oct. 2013,

Frank, Ellen, Holly A. Swartz, and David J. Kupfer. “Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy:     managing the chaos of bipolar disorder.” Biological psychiatry 48.6 (2000): 593-604.

Kilbourne, Amy M., et al. “Burden of general medical conditions among individuals with bipolar disorder.” Bipolar disorders 6.5 (2004): 368-373.

Lichtenstein, Paul, et al. “Common genetic determinants of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in  Swedish families: a population-based study.” The Lancet 373.9659 (2009): 234-239.

Martínez-Arán, Anabel, et al. “Cognitive function across manic or hypomanic, depressed, and       euthymic states in bipolar disorder.” American Journal of Psychiatry 161.2 (2004): 262         270.

Phillips, Mary L., et al. “Medication effects in neuroimaging studies of bipolar disorder.”   American Journal of Psychiatry 165.3 (2008): 313-320.

Whitton, Alexis E., Michael T. Treadway, and Diego A. Pizzagalli. “Reward processing    dysfunction in major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.” Current opinion in   psychiatry 28.1 (2015): 7.

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