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Thoughts About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder (manic-depressive illness), if a disorder at all, has been defined as

a major affective mood disorder in which one alternates between the mental states
of deep and brutal depression and inflated elation- with the depressive episodes
occurring more frequently. The disorder affects one’s cognition, emotions,
perceptions, and behavior- along with psychosomatic presentations (such as pain
with depressive episodes, for example). It is thought to be due to a physiological
dysfunctional brain in oneaffected with bipolar disorder, yet the etiology remains
entirely unknown. It is also believed that bipolar disorder presents itself when the
affected one is between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. The disorder was entered
in the psychiatrists’ bible, the DSM, in 1980. Also, bipolar disorder is thought to be
correlated with creativity and accelerated growth of neurons if one is affected by it.

Research has determined that as many as 15 to over 30 percent of bipolar disorder

patients commit suicide if they are untreated. Also, as many as half of those
affected with bipolar disorder also have at times severe substance abuse issues
along with this disorder as well. Bipolar patients are also often experiencing anxiety
issues that vary, and are treated often as such. The disorder varies as far as
severity goes- with some bipolar disorder patients being more affected than others.
In fact, there are at least 6 classifications of bipolar disorder, according to the DSM.
Bipolar patients are thought to be symptomatic half of their lives- with depressive
episodes occurring more frequently than manic ones. When symptomatic, bipolar
patients are thought to be rather disabled, according to some. As many as half of
those suspected as having a bipolar disorder are thought to have at least one
parent with some sort of mood disorder, which suggests a genetic predisposition to
the disorder.

The diagnosis has become more frequent recently. In one decade, the assigned
diagnosis of bipolar disorder rose from being about 25 per 100 thousand people to
being 1000 per 100,000 people. Most diagnosed with bipolar disorder are not
diagnosed based on solid, comprehensive, or psychiatric review that is often absent
of valid or standard diagnostic methods. Some believe as many as 5 percent of the
human population may be affected by bipolar disorder- which includes as many as
12 million people in the United States. A subjective questionnaire called the Mental
Status Examination is often utilized when diagnosing one suspected has having
bipolar disorder. Many believe the diagnosis has increased recently due to the
progressive treatment options now available. It is an argument of increased
awareness versus over-diagnosis.

Yet the diagnosis is vague, as children and adolescents are often absent in research
with bipolar disorder. Many younger than 18 years of age are prescribed atypical
anti-psychotics as first line treatment, which is largely not recommended as
treatment options. In fact, close to half a million of those younger than 18 years of
age are prescribed the atypical anti-psychotic Risperdal alone, it has been
determined. The class of medications overallis thought to be prescribed to about 10
percent of those non-adults thought to have bipolar disorder.

While not recommended, one half of all those assessed as being bipolar are
prescribed antidepressants, such as SSRIs, as first line treatment. It has been
suggested that this class of drugs has decreased the risk of suicide attempts
compared with other classes of antidepressants for close to 20 years. Yet tricyclic
antidepressants have been determined to be efficacious in over half of those
diagnosed with bipolar disorder- with a greater amount of research behind this class
of drugs. Yet, entirely recognized treatments for bipolar disorder long term are
lithium or lamictal- along with an anti-convulsant. Sugar intake is thought to vex
the symptoms of one with a bipolar disorder as well.

Atypical anti-psychotics have been prescribed for bipolar disorder, which change
some aspects of the brain, physiologically, as does the disease itself. In fact, one
may argue the brain becomes more efficient due to both the disorder and the
treatment with the atypical anti-psychotics. Yet many recommend the utilization of
this class of drugs with bipolar disorder only if psychosis is present as well. As
many as 15 percent of bipolar disorder patients diagnosed as such are prescribed
an atypical presently. This class of medications may be particularly beneficial for
those women who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder who are pregnant, however.

Lithium, which is essentially a very light metal with low density in which the salts
are obtained for medicinal treatment, and an anti-convulsantare believed to be
standard bipolar treatment, pharmacologically, studies have shown. This is due to
Dr. John Cade and his examination with lithium and its benefits with those who have
psychotic excitement close to 60 years ago. Lithium is believed to be both neuro-
protective as well as having an anti-suicidal affect in those believed to be bipolar-
and is viewed as a mainstay as far as treatment for bipolar goes with many who
treat the disorder. Lithium is thought to regulate the calcium molecule in the brain,
so this and valporateare historically the medicinal treatment options preferred for
those with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar is difficult to detect, and is often diagnosed as major depression with many
affected by this disorder. There is no objective criteria protocol available to utilize
when assessing any patient believed to be suffering from anymental disorder. So
such mental disorders that are diagnosed are ambiguous, yet that does not
conclude that such disorders do not exist, such as the case withbipolar disorder.

Yet perhaps a health care provider should be very thorough and knowledgeable
when assessing a patient believed to have a mental condition such as bipolar

Dan Abshear