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Bipolar Disorder’s Symptoms, Treatments, and it’s Affect on Daily Life
University of Central Oklahoma
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This paper examines the psychological disorder, bipolar disorder (BD). The basic explanation of
BD is a continuous change in mood that occurs over an individual’s lifetime. Episodes indicate
that a person may be suffering from BD. In this paper, the two main episodes, manic and
depressive, are analyzed. Also, examples of symptoms of this disorder are explored. Many
treatments are available to decrease the likelihood of certain symptoms arising. The most
common forms are medication and psychotherapy. These two coincide with one another to
create effective remedies that lessen the chance of an episode taking place. Also, BD affects
lives in a social, occupational, and personal aspect. Finally, this paper discusses how the chance
of suicide and substance abuse are increased.
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Bipolar Disorder’s Symptoms, Treatments, and it’s Affect on Daily Life
Psychological disorders affect a vast amount of individuals in many different ways. A
common disorder that evokes abnormal changes in a person’s mood and interferes with their
ability to apply themselves to general functions is known as bipolar disorder (Bipolar Disorder,
2008). Bipolar disorder affects an estimated 3% of United States citizens over the age of 18. In
most cases, symptoms begin in young adults and persist for most of their lives (Wilkins, 2004).
Although many people suffer from this disorder, the cause is still relatively unknown.
Researchers believe that it can be elicited by an individual’s environment, or inherited
genetically. Deficiencies in neurological functioning and the ability to learn verbal
communication are evident in individuals with this disorder (Kurtz, 2009). This can negatively
impact lives in a social and occupational aspect due to the severity of symptoms it entails. The
symptoms and treatments of bipolar disorder create a difficult struggle to perform typical
activities in an individual’s daily life.
Bipolar disorder has many distinct symptoms and characteristics. The Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders declares four general categories of bipolar disorder that
determine the severity of a person’s condition. These include Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II
Disorder, Bipolar Disorder not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS), and Cyclothymiacs Disorder
(Bipolar Disorder, 2008). Each condition has similar symptoms, but bipolar I disorder is the
most common and most extreme. Research suggests that forty one percent of individuals endure
their primary mood episode before the age of twenty (Wilkins, 2004). Mood episodes that are
present for an extended period of time each day could convey that a person is bipolar. People
with bipolar I disorder experience either manic or depressive episodes, and in some instances a
mixed state occurs, where both episodes occur at the same time. Increased energy, heightened
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mood, impulsive behavior, and irritability signify a manic episode (Bipolar Disorder, 2008).
Manic episodes can be identified by a constant desire for interactions with others in a sexual and
social aspect (Wilkins, 2004). A person is stimulated and more likely to make erratic decisions
during this type of episode. In opposition, depressive episodes are characterized by low energy,
fatigue, loss of interest, and a significant change in daily patterns (Bipolar Disorder, 2008).
Depression caused by BD leads to a decline in social affairs, a rise in medical care, and
occasionally, permanent disabilities. In a study using 146 individuals with BD, a depressive
state was experienced 32% of weeks over eight years, compared to 9% of manic states over the
same amount of time (Carlson, 2004). These symptoms can negatively impact lives. Bipolar
disorder is usually present and treated for an individual’s entire life. However, this is one of the
most treatable disorders.
Many treatments are offered for bipolar patients, but no ultimate cure has been
discovered. Therefore, this disorder must receive long term treatment in order to manage
restraint over their symptoms because of its lifelong occurrence (Bipolar Disorder, 2008).
Medication is the most common and effective form of treatment. Mood stabilizers, atypical
antipsychotic medication, and antidepressants are the standard medications prescribed by
doctors, mainly psychiatrists. Mood stabilizing medications such as lithium, valproic acid,
Lamictal, and Topamax are prescribed to control manic episodes by keeping an individual’s
mood at a constant level. In exception to lithium, all medications listed are anticonvulsant drugs
that are typically recommended for seizures. Anticonvulsants are advocated by doctors due to
the stability obtained to overcome a mood change (Bipolar Disorder, 2008). Zyprexa, Abilify,
Seroquel, and Risperdal are all forms of atypical antipsychotic medications. These drugs help
control all three types of episodes, but are not as frequently prescribed as mood stabilizers and
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antidepressants. Antidepressants, such as Prozac and Paxil, are used to control depressive
episodes. In most situations, a mood stabilizer is also prescribed because antidepressants can
create a risk of a mania (Bipolar Disorder, 2008). Another effective and beneficial treatment is
Along with medications, psychotherapy has been proven to be a sufficient treatment.
Most individuals need to take medication along with attending psychotherapy sessions to gain
control over their mania. Examples of psychotherapy are the cognitive behavioral therapy
approach, family focused therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and psycho education
(Bipolar Disorder, 2008). Cognitive behavioral therapy is intended to help with depression by
transforming negative reasoning into a positive outlook on life. Family focused therapy is used
to mend relationships and help family members handle the difficulties of this disorder. This is
also devoted to enhancing problem solving abilities, as well as increasing the capability to
correspond with others (Bipolar Disorder, 2008). Another form of treatment aspiring to
consolidate relationships is the interpersonal and social rhythm therapy approach. This also
helps coordinate daily patterns and behavior. Finally, psycho education helps individuals with
bipolar disorder by teaching them about their condition. It enables them to recognize symptoms
of an episode so they can seek medical help before it turns into a full manic or depressive
episode (Bipolar Disorder, 2008). Although many treatments are available, BD creates a
multitude of problems in an individual’s daily life.
Bipolar Disorder makes basic functions difficult due to the extremity of a person’s mood
shifts. Interpersonal, occupational, and communal problems develop over time when an
individual does not seek treatment. Social aspects are a challenge because most individuals with
BD have low acquired social skills. Although about 68 percent of people with BD are employed,
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problems arise in work environments frequently. Therefore, maintaining a sufficient job is
difficult because of the behavioral changes this disorder creates (Wilkins, 2004). Also, BD
creates a significant risk for suicide. According to studies, an estimated half of individuals
suffering from this have attempted or contemplated suicide (Wilkins, 2004). Additionally,
substance abuse is a prevalent concern that can transpire from this disorder. Some people turn to
alcohol or drugs to cope with their depression and people with out of control mania tend to
overly exercise these substances due to their manic mood shifts (Bipolar Disorder, 2008). Many
aspects in individual’s lives are jeopardized due to this illness.
Bipolar disorder is an incurable psychological disorder that affects many lives by causing
a severe change in mood. Although no ultimate cure has been discovered, many treatments are
available. Genetics and a person’s environment may be the reason for this disorder; however the
cause is relatively unknown. BD can be classified by having either a manic or depressive
episode, but when treated properly an individual can gain control over these episodes. This
illness not only affects the person with BD but family and friends as well. Bipolar disorder
occurs frequently among individuals, and these symptoms impact not only them but everyone
around them in a personal, social, and occupational aspect when not treated properly.
Individuals may gain control over these symptoms and lead a normal, healthy life.
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Carlson, P., Merlock, M., & Suppes, T. (2004). Adjunctive Stimulant Use in Patients with
Bipolar Disorder: Treatment of Residual Depression and Sedation. Bipolar Disorders,
6(5), 416-420. http://search.ebscohost.com.vortex3.uco.edu:2050, doi:10.1111/j.1399-
Kurtz, M., & Gerraty, R. (2009). A Meta-analytic Investigation of Neurocognitive Deficits in
Bipolar Illness: Profile and Effects of Clinical State. Neuropsychology, 23(5), 551-562.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2008). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved October 3, 2009 from
Wilkins, K. (2004). Bipolar I disorder, Social Support and Work. Health Reports, 1521-30.