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The symptoms of bipolar disorder and depression

Clinical depression interferes substantially with one’s ability to function; following that, a number of associated psychological and physical symptoms accompany clinical depression. One’s tragic life consequences can lead to mood disorders. These problems are described as mood disorders because they are characterized by deviations in mood.

People who suffers from depressive episode that includes cognitive symptoms (feelings of worthlessness and indecisiveness), and disturbed physical functions ( such as altered sleeping patterns, significant change in appetite and weight, or notable loss of energy) in conjunction with mania, where individuals find extreme pleasure in every activity, meaning, someone who alternates between depression and mania is said to have bipolar mood disorder traveling from one “pole” of the depression – elation continuum to the other and back again.

Bipolar disorder involves periods of mania alternating with periods of depression. The "mood swings" between mania and depression can be very abrupt. In bipolar II disorder, an individual experiences major depressive episodes alternated with hypomanic episodes rather than full manic episodes and in bipolar I disorder, an individual experiences a full manic episode; hypomanic episodes are less severe. When individuals are so involved in the midst of a full manic episode, and are so wrapped up in their enthusiasm and expansiveness they fell that their behavior seem reasonable to them.

A chronic version of bipolar disorder is cyclothymiacs disorder; this disorder is an alternation of mood elevation and depression that does not reach the severity of manic or major depressive episodes. Individuals with this type of disorder tend to be in one mood state or the other for years with relatively few periods of neutral mood. This type of disorder makes us think of those people who we consider to be “moody”. ( Akiskal & Pinto, 1999; Akiskal, Khani, & Scott-Strauss, 1979; Depue et al., 1981; Goodwin & Jamison, 1990).

Manic Phase Symptoms: (bipolar disorder I)

Agitation or irritation

Elevated mood

Inflated self-esteem

Little need for sleep

Over-involvement in activities

Poor temper control

Reckless behavior

Tendency to be easily distracted

In people with bipolar disorder II, hypomanic episodes involve similar symptoms that are less intense.

Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decision

Eating disturbances

Fatigue or listlessness

Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and/or guilt

Loss of self-esteem

Persistent sadness

Persistent thoughts of death

Sleep disturbances

Suicidal thoughts

Withdrawal from activities that were once enjoyed

Withdrawal from friends

Bipolar disorder results from disturbances in the areas of the brain that regulate mood. There is no “single” cause for bipolar disorder, instead a combination of genetic, biologic, and environmental factors, which can activate and enable the chemical imbalances in the brain that shape this complex disorder. By using imaging scans and other tests, professionals could detect that:

Oversecretion of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Excessive influx of calcium into brain cells.

Abnormal hyperactivity in parts of the brain associated with emotion and movement coordination and low activity in parts of the brain associated with concentration, attention, inhibition, and judgment.

One interesting theory proposes that people with bipolar disorder have a superfast biologic "clock", which is actually a tiny cluster of nerves called the supra chiasmatic nucleus or SCN. It is located in the hypothalamus (in the center of the brain) and it regulates a person's circadian rhythm, the daily cycle of life, which influences sleeping and waking.

Biochemically speaking, bipolar disorder takes place in a certain part of the brain where a number of neurotransmitters (a sort of chemical messenger) are said to have been malfunctioning. Dopamine, serotonin, and nor epinephrine are just the three, maybe a lot more, of neurotransmitters involved in bipolar disorder. Multiple genes, involving several chromosomes, have been linked to its development. Bipolar disorder also may share these genetic factors with other disorders, including schizophrenia, epilepsy, and panic disorder. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder often show up in the same family. For example:

Genetic abnormalities for both diseases appear on many of the same chromosomes.

Pathways of the neurotransmitter dopamine appear to be important in both illnesses. (A neurotransmitter acts as a chemical messenger between nerve cells.)

Blood levels of reelin; a protein in the brain may be useful markers for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, although levels vary between the two diseases. Reelin is a protein that is important for information processing.)

Elevated levels of vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2), a protein in the brain that regulates the transport of important neurotransmitters (chemical messengers), have been observed in the brainstems of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenic patients. The distribution patterns of this protein in the brain, however, differ between the two diseases.

In one study of people with bipolar disorder, the left side of the hippocampus was significantly larger than it was on the right. In patients with schizophrenia the hippocampus volume was decreased. (The hippocampus is located deep in the brain and stores memory).

Genetic factors in Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder tends to be hereditary. About half the people with bipolar disorder have a family member with a mood disorder, such as depression.

A person who has one parent with bipolar disorder has a 15 to 25 percent chance of having the condition.

A person who has a non-identical twin with the illness has a 25 percent chance of illness, the same risk as if both parents have bipolar disorder.

A person who has an identical twin (having exactly the same genetic material) with bipolar disorder has an even greater risk of developing the illness about an eightfold greater risk than a nonidentical twin.

Studies of adopted twins (where a child whose biological parent had the illness is raised in an adoptive family untouched by the illness) has helped researchers learn more about the genetic causes vs. environmental and life events causes.

According to evidence from the University of Michigan researchers, people with bipolar disorder have an average of 30% more of an important class of signal-sending brain cells and the American Journal of Psychiatry solidifies the idea that the disorder has unavoidable biological and genetic roots. The brain from people that suffer from bipolar disorder are wired differently, in a way that we might expect to predispose them to bouts of mania and depression. According to test results, it suggests that the altered brain chemistry due to the excess monoamine cells may directly impact the patients' cognitive and social function. Bipolar disorder I has a strong but still unknown tie to DNA

The disorder is treated with an amalgamation of mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, anti-manics or anti-psychotics, and psychotherapy. Three groups of antidepressant medications are most often used to treat depressive disorders: tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and lithium. Lithium was the treatment of choice for bipolar disorder and some forms of recurring, major depression. However, more recently doctors have also been using anticonvulsants for bipolar disorder. Antipsychotic drugs can help a person who has lost touch with reality. Anti-anxiety drugs, such as benzodiazepines, may also help. The patient may need to stay in a hospital until his or her mood has stabilized and symptoms are under control; also, Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used to treat bipolar disorder. ECT is a psychiatric treatment that uses an electrical current to cause a brief seizure of the central nervous system while the patient is under anesthesia. Studies have repeatedly found that ECT is the most effective treatment for depression that is not relieved with medications.

Possible side effects to look for are depression that gets worse, suicidal thinking or behavior, or any unusual changes in behavior such as trouble sleeping, agitation, or withdrawal from normal social situations.

Mood Stabilizers

In some cases, lithium can cause side effects such as:

Restlessness

Dry mouth

Bloating or indigestion

Acne

Unusual discomfort to cold temperatures

Joint or muscle pain

Brittle nails or hair

Common side effects of other mood stabilizing medications include:

Drowsiness

Dizziness

Headache

Diarrhea

Constipation

Heartburn

Mood swings

Stuffed or runny nose, or other cold-like symptoms

Atypical Antipsychotics

Drowsiness

Dizziness when changing positions

Blurred vision

Rapid heartbeat

Sensitivity to the sun

Skin rashes

Menstrual problems for women.

Antidepressants

Headache, which usually goes away within a few days.

Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), which usually goes away within a few days.

Sleep problems, such as sleeplessness or drowsiness. This may happen during the first few weeks but then go away. To help lessen these effects, sometimes the medication dose can be reduced, or the time of day it is taken can be changed.

Agitation (feeling jittery).

Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women. These include reduced sex drive and problems having and enjoying sex.

By using a log, an individual who suffers from bipolar disorder can record what his/her symptoms are when they’re experiencing them and how bad they are; after managing the symptoms, they can bring the worksheet to their doctor, he or she may have suggestions for minimizing the side effects. If side effects are severe, the doctor may switch the drug to another drug or change the dosage. Drug interactions can cause unexpected side effects or make your bipolar disorder medication less effective or even dangerous. Mixing certain foods and beverages with your bipolar medication can also cause problems.

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