03 January 2008
Bipolar: Know the facts
It is odd how many people are diagnosed with Bipolar lately. Something that I never heard of and suddenly every second person has it. So I though let me at least have some basic knowledge on this disease – so that I don’t look like a total dud when people talk about it.
Bipolar disorder is not a single disorder, but a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood, clinically referred to as mania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes or symptoms, or mixed episodes which present with features of both mania and depression.
These episodes are normally separated by periods of normal mood, but in some patients, depression and mania may rapidly alternate, known as rapid cycling. The disorder has been subdivided into bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymia based on the type and severity of mood episodes experienced.
Onset of symptoms generally occurs in young adulthood. Diagnosis is based on the person's self-reported experiences, as well as observed behavior. Episodes of illness are associated with distress and disruption, and a relatively high risk of suicide. Studies suggest that genetics, early environment, neurobiology, and psychological and social processes are important contributory factors. Psychiatric research is focused on the role of neurobiology, but a clear organic cause has not been found. Bipolar disorder is usually treated with medications and/or therapy or counseling. The mainstay of medication are a number of drugs termed 'mood stabilizers', in particular lithium and sodium valproate.
The disorder is also found in a large number of people involved in the arts. It is an ongoing study as to why many creative geniuses had bipolar disorder