Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder, which is also referred to as bipolar

affective disorder or manic depression, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a

category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of

abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition and mood with or without one or more

depressive episodes. The elevated moods are clinically referred to as mania or, if

milder hypomania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly

experience depressive episodes, or symptoms, or mixed episode in which features

of both mania and depression are present at the same time.

These episodes are usually separated by periods of “normal” mood; but in some individuals, depression

and mania may rapidly alternate, which is known as rapid cycling. In the present unit

we will first discuss the symptoms and types of bipolar disorder, after that we will

explain the causes of bipolar disorder and finally we will come across to the treatment

and prognosis of bipolar disorder.

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  • Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is distinguished from major depression by at least one episode of

mania. Any given episode is classified as depressive, manic, or mixed, according to

its predominant features. If individuals experience only one of these moods (for

example, either mania or depression), they are said to suffer only Unipolar mood

disorder. Since the experience of manic symptoms alone is extremely rare, almost all

individuals with unipolar mood disorders suffer from unipolar depression

If the individual alternates between experiences of depression and mania he/she is

said to be suffering from a bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a condition in which

people experience abnormally elevated (manic or hypomanic) and, in many cases,

abnormally depressed states for periods of time in a way that interferes with


  • Classification of Bipolar Disorder

 Bipolar I Disorder

 Bipolar I Disorder

 Cyclothymia

 Bipolar Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)

  • Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Although causes of bipolar disorder likely vary between individuals. But studies

suggest that both biological and psychological factors seem to play a role in

determining whether a person will develop symptoms of bipolar disorder.

  • Factors of bipolar
  • Biological Factors or Psychological Factors
  • Biological Factors

Studies conducted on the families of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder show

that there is strong tendency for other family members also to have higher than

expected risk for a mood disorder of some type including bipolar disorder Results of studies indicated that about nine percent of the first degree

relatives of a person with bipolar illness can also be expected to have bipolar

disorder (nine times the rate of the disorder in the general population)

. Although family studies cannot by themselves

establish a genetic basis for the disorder, results from twin studies also point to a

Bipolar Disorder

Mood Disorders

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genetic basis. Twin studies have been limited by relatively small sample sizes but have

indicated a substantial genetic contribution, as well as environmental influence.

  • Psychological Factors

Evidence suggests that psychological factors play a significant role in the development

and course of bipolar disorder, and that individual psychosocial variable may interact

with genetic dispositions .There is fairly consistent evidence

from prospective studies that recent life events and interpersonal relationships contribute

to the likelihood of onsets and recurrences of bipolar mood episodes, as they do for

onsets and recurrences of unipolar depression (Alloy et. al., 2005). Environmental

stressors can sometimes be important in setting off either an initial or additional manic


  • Treatment

There are a number of pharmacological and psychotherapeutic techniques used to

treat Bipolar Disorder. Hospitalization may be required especially with the manic

episodes present in Bipolar I.

Because bipolar disorder is a lifelong and recurrent illness, people with the disorder

need long term treatment to maintain control of bipolar symptoms. An effective

maintenance treatment plan includes medication and psychotherapy for preventing

relapse and reducing symptom severity

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