Bipolar Disorder “Understanding”

Bipolar Disorder

Shante Lovely (You don’t suffer alone)


Bipolar disorder is a condition of the brain that contributes to extreme mood swings in the affected individuals, which lead to emotional lows, depression, and emotional highs, mania or hypomania. Bipolar disorder is categorized into four, including Bipolar 1 Disorder, which occurs in form of manic episodes that last for at least 7 days, and depressive episodes that may last for a period of two weeks (Phillips & Kupfer, 2013). The second type is the Bipolar II Disorder, which occurs in form of depressive and hypomanic episodes, which are not as severe as those experienced in Bipolar I Disorder (Phillips & Kupfer, 2013). The third type is known as the Cyclothymic Disorder or Cyclithymia, which comprises of numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms, which may last for a period of 2 years in adults, while in children and adolescents, the symptoms may last for a year (Phillips & Kupfer, 2013). The fourth category comprises of the specified and unspecified bipolar and related brain disorders.


Although the specific cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, several factors are associated with causing the disorder. These include genetic factors, whereby individuals who have a parent suffering from the disorder are 6 times at a risk of developing the disease compared to individuals who do not have a history of the disorder in their family line (Craddock & Sklar, 2013). On the other hand, brain chemistry is associated with causing bipolar disorder, whereby the brains of individuals with bipolar disorder have problems with aspects of chemical compositions. Moreover, psychological factors are associated with causing bipolar disorder, whereby individuals suffering from the disorder have a co-occurring mental disorder. The individuals may try substance abuse to treat the symptoms of the disorder, further leading to mental problems related to substance abuse.



The less acute symptoms of bipolar disorder include restlessness, substance use and abuse, rapid pressured speech, lack of focus in thoughts and speech, sleeplessness, increased energy levels, irritable mood, speaking loudly, and getting easily distracted among others. On the other hand, individuals suffering from the disorder demonstrate depressive symptoms, which include restlessness, thoughts of death and suicide, difficulties in concentrating, feeling extremely empty, worried and tired, loss of interest in previously interesting activities, and changing in eating and sleeping habits among others (Leibenluft, 2011). Bipolar disorder can present severe effects in all aspects of an individual’s life, following the unpredicted behaviour that emerges in individuals suffering from the condition. The common effects that can accompany untreated bipolar disorder include substance addiction, suicide, ideas of suicide, self-harm, worsening symptoms of the disorder, loss of employment and economic ruin, loss of interpersonal relationships, and exposure to STDs following the engagement irresponsible sexual behaviour.


However, bipolar disorder can be effectively managed through medications and other non-pharmacological approaches. Medications that are commonly used to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics. On the other hand, psychotherapy is used in combination with the appropriate medications to manage the symptoms. The most applied psychotherapy treatments include the family-focused therapy, psychoeducation, the cognitive behavioural therapy, and the interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (Geddes & Miklowitz, 2013). Other treatment options include the electroconvulsive therapy, which focuses on providing relied to individuals suffering from severe bipolar disorder (Geddes & Miklowitz, 2013). However, the electroconvulsive therapy approach is only considered appropriate in the events where other medical conditions, such as pregnancies make medications too risky for the patient, since the approach may result in undesirable side effects, including confusion, memory loss, and disorientation among others. Additionally, sleep medications are considered appropriate for treating mild symptoms of bipolar disorder.



Craddock, N., & Sklar, P. (2013). Genetics of bipolar disorder. The Lancet381(9878), 1654-1662.

Geddes, J. R., & Miklowitz, D. J. (2013). Treatment of bipolar disorder. The Lancet381(9878), 1672-1682.

Leibenluft, E. (2011). Severe mood dysregulation, irritability, and the diagnostic boundaries of bipolar disorder in youths. “American Journal of Psychiatry.

Phillips, M.L., & Kupfer, D.J. (2013). Bipolar disorder diagnosis: challenges and future directions. “The Lancet, 381(9878), 1663-1671.