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The many causes and factors of bipolar disorder - Research Paper Example

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Bipolar disorder is one of the many mental illness categorized as a mood disorder due to symptoms of gross deviation in mood. The key factor in identifying bipolar disorders is a patient's tendency to fluctuate quickly between manic episodes and depressive episodes in a roller coaster type fashion. …
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The many causes and factors of bipolar disorder
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Download file to see previous pages Bipolar disorder is one of the many mental illness categorized as a mood disorder due to symptoms of gross deviation in mood. The key factor in identifying bipolar disorders is a patient's tendency to fluctuate quickly between manic episodes and depressive episodes in a roller coaster type fashion. Sufferers of bipolar disorder will drop suddenly from the heights of happiness to the depths of despair for no apparent reason. Not only do patients endure the debilitating effects of depression, which can be a life ruining experience, they also must deal with the downside of their manic states as well, often temporarily losing touch with reality with delusions of grandeur along with their euphoric highs. Often manic episodes cause patients to go on wild spending sprees, or wast large sums of money on unwise investment schemes. When others try and stop them, or convince them otherwise patients often become irritable, hostile, enraged, or even dangerous to their family and other loved ones. "While bipolar disorder is much less common than major depressive disorder, affecting only one percent of the world's population," ( Barlow 198 ) its effects are so detrimental that scientists and psychologists have dedicated large amounts of time and research in an attempt to decipher is causes. Different biological, cognitive, psycho dynamic and social perspectives offer insight on why bipolar disorders occur.

Biological factors like "genetic inheritance and abnormal brain chemistry play a major role in bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder" ( Wood 248 ). Over the last few years, scientists have discovered that bipolar patients have abnormal patterns in brain activity discovered through PET scans and were able to discover that a "small thimble sized patch of brain tissue in the lower prefrontal cortex was approximately forty to fifty percent smaller in patients with hereditary depression" ( Wood 246 ). This part of the brain is associated with emotions and how they are controlled and expressed. Hereditary depression is the term used when multiple members of a family suffer from mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, and have the same discoveries in a PET scan. This occurs primarily from "shared genetic factors rather than environmental factors" ( Roberson 21 ). Based on a 1993 study of 1,721 identical and fraternal twins, "scientists estimated the heritability of major depression to be seventy percent and the contribution of environment to be thirty percent" ( Roberson 21 ). Likewise it was also discovered that adopted children suffer from bipolar disorders far less that children raised in their biological families.

Serotonin and Norepinephrine levels in the brain also trigger bipolar disorder. Similar to the way in which substances like alcohol, caffeine, and psychoactive drugs can alter mood, so can natural fluids in the brain. Since scientists know that mood is controlled by natural chemicals produced in the body, it is understandable that these chemicals also play a major role in bipolar disorder. Serotonin and Norepinephrine are two chemicals that play the biggest roles in the development of mood and emotion. "Too little Norepinephrine is associated with depression, and too much is associated with mania" ( Wood 248 ). Many doctors choose to attempt to control levels of Serotonin and Norepinphrine with the use of Amphetamines which have been proven effect these chemical levels in the brain.

"According to the cognitive perspective, depression results from distortions in thinking: ( Barlow 199 ). This means that patients suffering from bipolar disorder view themselves and their surroundings as extremely negative when they are in a depressive episode, and extremely positive when they are in a manic episode. When patients are suffering a depressive episode they often feel inadequate and useless and attribute these thoughts to their own stupidity or mental failures. Many bipolar suffers have found help in avoiding cognitive traps which help them to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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