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Bipolar Disorder - Essay Example

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH: Bipolar, 2006), it is a brain disorder that causes major shifts in mood from manic to depressive and back again with normal moods in between. Research is presently underway by NIMH (Child, 2006) to better understand diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in youths. …
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The onset of bipolar disorder can be gradual but it usually appears suddenly, emerging in adolescence or even childhood, “often between the ages of 15-24, with 90% of cases diagnosed by the age of 30” (Ballas, 2005). Research is presently underway by NIMH (Child, 2006) to better understand diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in youths.

Is Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) a form of bipolar disorder or is it a different illness? ADHD manifests some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, which makes it difficult to know at an early age whether a child actually has a bipolar disorder or just ADHD. The stimulant medications used to treat ADHD may worsen manic symptoms, and antidepressant medication may induce manic symptoms. Since ADHD does not show manic symptoms as a rule, it is important to follow up with a physician if these symptoms occur. It should be noted that the manic symptoms in young people might not show euphoria but instead can be disruptive (NIMH: Child, 2006).

The symptoms of bipolar disorder go beyond manic and depressive behavior. There are degrees of symptoms such as severe depression, mild to moderate depression, normal mood, hypomania and severe mania. A person in a severe depressed state may sleep more than usual, refuse to get out of bed, have crying bouts, become unable to make simple decisions, feel hopeless for a sustained period of time, and wish to die. Mild depression can be defined as "having the blues," while moderate depression is more long-lasting. Hypomania is a less extreme form of mania and could include complete confidence in self, ability to focus and to be creative or innovative, and to feel "on top of the world" without going over the top. Severe mania makes a person feel invincible, exhibit extravagant behavior, experience hallucinations or delusions, and feel filled with energy and the need to expound at length (Purse, 2006). Yet another type of bipolar disorder is called rapid-cycling when a person has four or more episodes within a 12-month period (NIMH: Bipolar, 2006).
Can the illness be cured and, if not, how is it treated The medications used in treatment of bipolar disorder do not always have a positive effect, and NIMH notes that a small percentage of people experience chronic unremitting symptoms despite treatment (NIMH: Bipolar, 2006). At present, because there is no cure, the long-term treatment of choice for bipolar disorder is a mood stabilizer, such as lithium. This is often very effective, but for difficult-to-treat bipolar episodes, adding anticonvulsant medications such as valproate (Depacote) can have mood-stabilizing effects.
New anticonvulsant medications are being studied to determine how effective they might be as an alternative to non-productive medications. Anticonvulsant medications can be taken in combination with lithium. Adolescent girls and woman with bipolar disorder face special challenges because of possible harmful effects of some mood stabilizing drugs in regard to hormone changes. Research studies are continuing to evaluate the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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