Bipolar disorder, otherwise known as the manic depression, is a type of mental disorder marked with periods of elevated mood and depression. The incidence of elevated mood referred to as mania and is significant in showing the extent of the disorder in the affected individuals. It is during this period of abnormal energy, happiness or irritation that the individuals are most likely to make ill thought out decisions without a care of the impeding consequences. In addition, manic periods may be characterized by reduced sleep. In contrast, the depression phases of the disorder present negative outlooks about life, poor eye contact with others and the probability of crying at the slightest irritation. Individuals with bipolar disorder have an abnormal cycle of extreme mood swings that lead to a highly disruptive livelihood.
As at 2013, more than three percent of the American population is directly affected by bipolar disorder (Mondimore, pp 15). This figure increases with a rise in the number of people that the affected individuals interact with on a daily basis. The increasing number of affected individuals is testament to the negative impacts of the mental disorder and the potential to disrupt the individuals’ livelihoods. Indeed, the incidence of bipolar disorder may herald suicidal thoughts capable of evolving to feelings of euphoria and endless energy. It is no doubt that the classic symptoms of the disorder are the alternating periods of elevated moods and periods of depression. It is the culmination of these phases that lead to the abnormal changes in happiness and sadness as well as the feelings of hopelessness and negativity towards life.
Even when the bipolar disorder has regular symptoms, there are visible differences across gender. For instance, women are more likely to suffer from Bipolar II Disorder which is a relatively milder subtype of the disorder. Other subtypes of the disorder are the Bipolar I Disorder and the Cyclothymic Disorder both of which present the emergence of manic and hypomanic depression (Miklowitz, pp 21). Regardless of the different subtype of the disorder, the affected individuals are at a high risk of emotional breakdown. Normally, the mental illness occurs at late teens or early adult years with rare but irregular occurrences in children. In fact, research has proved that more than half of the cases of bipolar disorder have occurred before or at the age of 25 years. Regardless of the age of symptom onset, the affected individual is exposed to the dangers of emotional meltdown characterized by habitual crying and excitement at the slightest provocation.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are largely characterized into manic and depressive episodes. However, the symptoms can be severe and disabling to the individuals and can even result in the worsening of symptoms of other co-occurring disorders. The uniqueness of these episodes is that they are acute and different from the normal swings in moods and feelings. Indeed, the behavioral and mood variations could be effective signs showing the incidence of the manic phase in individuals with bipolar disorders. The manic phase includes symptoms such as extended periods of abnormal happiness where they exhibit outgoing feelings. Still, the people are likely to show extremely irritable moods including agitation and jumping when provoked. The general outcome of such feelings is the incidence of high risk behaviors including impulsive intercourse, drug abuse as well as unaccounted spending sprees.
Most of the symptoms of bipolar disorder are rather involuntary and the individuals are not even aware of their exhibition at times. For instance, the affected individuals may not even realize that they are talking very fast or restlessly. Further, these people may become easily distracted and have little appetite for sleep thus worsening the situations. In addition to the manic symptoms, the affected individuals also showcase depressive symptoms including unwarranted feelings of worry and emptiness (Martinowich et al, pp 732). As a result of these changes in their psychological state, they are likely to become isolated from family and friends. Some of the symptoms may include a general loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed including sexual intercourse. Moreover, there is a high chance of the individuals venturing into substance abuse as a result of emotional upset occasioned by thoughts of death and suicide. The range of symptoms for bipolar disorder is quite expansive thus outlining the vast impacts of the same on the individuals, family and friends.
There are a number of psychotherapeutic and pharmacological techniques available for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Normally, it is the affected individual that has the final say regarding their treatment options upon the advice of their medical caregivers. Nevertheless, treatment is best administered by a psychiatrist with skills in the treatment of bipolar disorders as well as related disorders. It is also possible to have a treatment team comprising of a psychologist, psychiatrist as a well as a social worker. Often times, the treatment of bipolar disorders require lifelong attention in treatment even when the affected individual feels better (Gupta et al, pp 229). The main treatment options include medications and psychological counseling otherwise referred to as psychotherapy. Regardless of the treatment option, the end goal is to minimize the negative impacts of the bipolar disorder on the individuals thus helping them back to normal livelihoods.
One of the main treatment options is medication which is prescribed based on the specific individual symptoms. Mood stabilizers are widely used in the control of hypomanic and manic phases of the bipolar disorder. For instance, bipolar I and II disorders have the emergence of manic and hypomanic episodes respectively and the medication for each is based on the particular symptoms. Examples of mood stabilizers are lithobids and dekapenes all of which have similar effects in the stabilization of moods. Another medication option is the use of antipsychotics such as zyprexa and geodon to reduce the persistence of depression in the affected individuals (Mondimore, pp 34). Normally, the drugs are prescribed alone after failure of mood stabilizers but they may also be prescribed together. Further, depression can also be managed through antidepressant medications. However, these drugs are only prescribed along with mood stabilizers because of their potential to trigger manic episodes in the individuals. The right medication option is dependent on both the symptoms and the side effects of the drugs in the affected individuals.
In addition to medication, psychotherapy is also widely used in the treatment of bipolar disorders in both individual and group settings. Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy is the most common type and focuses on the identification of negative and unhealthy behaviors. Ultimately, the process then replaces the identified behaviors and replaces them with healthy positive behaviors. The advantage of this treatment option is that is helps in the identification of the factor that triggers bipolar episodes therefore treating the disorder in full. In addition tyo this type of therapy, psychoeducation is widely used in the treatment of bipolar disorders through counseling and education. The rationale behind this method is that learning about the disorder helps in the knowledge and acceptance of the condition amongst self and family (Miklowitz, pp 18). Other therapies, including interpersonal and social rhythm therapy have been studied for their effectiveness in the treatment of bipolar disorders. On average, most of the identified therapies have recorded high success rates in the treatment of bipolar disorders.
The outcome of bipolar disorders is not only detrimental to the social life of the affected but also extends to the community. The impacts, albeit diverse, have the most bearing on the affected individuals as they struggle to fit in a society that stigmatizes extreme conditions. One of the major impacts is social isolation for the affected individuals which has been recorded to increase as the condition becomes worse. Normally, the affected persons are likely to withdraw from other people in the society as has been attested by the many symptoms. In addition, the society is inclined towards growing distance with affected individuals due in part to a lack of understanding about the illness. The social isolation is particularly worse when the bipolar disorder has not been clinically identified thus minimizing the individual’s chances of receiving help and support.
The interrelatedness of impacts of bipolar disorder is rather astonishing seeing that one impact is also related to the other. Individuals with bipolar disorder have been observed to use drug and substance abuse in an attempt to combat social isolation. Drug and substance abuse has also been identified as a common impact of bipolar disorder out of the affected individual’s depressive episodes (Martinowich et al, pp 734). This impact works towards increasing and multiplying the severity and negativity of the disorder by pushing the affected individuals to irredeemable levels. Researchers have associated both drug abuse and social isolation with the downward spiral of events in the affected individuals’ lives. In addition, the inappropriate behavior exhibited in the manic episodes has the potential of leaving the individual feeling ashamed, humiliated and embarrassed. The situation is further worsened by the involvement of police when these behavioral symptoms turn tragic. The net effect is that the affected individuals end up with a low sense of esteem and could lead to cases of suicidal attempts and deaths.
The potential of bipolar disorder in disarranging the social lives of the affected is manifested in the continued breakdown of relationships. Family as well as friends and partners may become permanently isolated from the lives of the affected persons. Most especially, the breakdown of relationship is accelerated by misconstrued behavioral symptoms when the disorder has not yet been identified. The result is an aura of confusion among the family members thus eroding the relationships with the affected individuals. In other cases, the children are taken from their families and taken to mental institutions thus contributing to further breakdown of relationships (Mondimore, pp 13). Another impact associated with bipolar disorder is the incidence of stigma towards the affected parties resulting in more negative effects. In fact, the stigma is so adverse that it contributes to family and friend alienation and may even result to workplace discrimination. Ultimately, the individuals may end up losing their employment and plunging into financial debt leading to further negative burdens of the disorder.
Gupta, Roben Das, and Julian F. Guest. “Annual cost of bipolar disorder to UK society.” The British Journal of Psychiatry 180.3 (2002): 227-233.
Martinowich, Keri, Robert J. Schloesser, and Husseini K. Manji. “Bipolar disorder: from genes to behavior pathways.” The Journal of clinical investigation 119.4 (2009): 726-736.
Mondimore, Francis M. Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families. , 2014. Print.
Miklowitz, David J. The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know. New York: Guilford Press, 2011. Internet resource.
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