cal disorder influencingmood. Without treatment, people afflicted by this disorder demonstrateextreme emotional fluctuations throughout their lives. Yet despite (orperhaps as a result of) the unusual intensity of the bipolar emotionalroller coaster, many people with this disorder have been widely regarded asleaders and high achievers in a variety of fields of endeavor.
A closerlook at bipolar disorder seems to reveal a cycle of extremes from almost”superhuman” endeavor to utter voids of activity or motivation. Emotional states associated with this disorder differ in magnitude andseverity when compared to “normal” emotional states. “Happy” and “sad” donot seem to be the appropriate terms to describe what a person with manic-depression feels. A person with this disorder can swing from profoundfeelings of elation (mania) to feeling a little less elated (hypomania) todesperate feelings of hopelessness and helplessness (depression). Usually,there is a period of “normal” mood in-between peaks and valleys of maniaand depression.
However, the exact nature and severity of symptoms differfrom individual to individual. Some people with this disorder experiencemore depressive episodes than manias, others experience the reverse. Whilesome experience a few days of depression or mania, others experience weeksor months. Typically, depressive feelings tend to last longer than do manicfeelings. And, a person who has this disorder can expect, on the average,ten episodes of either mania or depression within the span of their lives. During my search for information on the Web, I found some vividdescriptions of the experience of bipolar disorder at an NIH web site (5).
These testimonials regarding what it is like to experience the emotionalstates of manic-depression helped me understand the intensity of thedisorder from the perspective of those who suffer with it:DEPRESSION: “I doubt completely my ability to do anything well. It seems asthough my mind has slowed down and burned out to the point of beingvirtually useless. . . . I am haunted.
. . with the total, the desperatehopelessness of it all. .
. Others say, “It’s only temporary, it will pass,you will get over it,” but, of course, they haven’t any idea how I feel,although they are certain they do. If I can’t feel, move, think, or care,then what on earth is the point?”HYPOMANIA: “At first when I’m high, it’s tremendous. .
. ideas are fast. . . likeshooting stars you follow until brighter ones appear. .
. all shynessdisappears, the right words and gestures are suddenly there. . . uninterestingpeople, things, become intensely interesting.
Sensuality is pervasive, thedesire to seduce and be seduced is irresistible. Your marrow is infusedwith unbelievable feelings of ease, power, well-being, omnipotence,euphoria. . .
you can do anything. . . but somewhere this changes. “MANIA: “The fast ideas become too fast and there are far toomany. .
. overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. . . you stop keeping up withit-memory goes. Infectious humor ceases to amuse.
Your friends becomefrightened. . . everything now is against the grain. . .
you are irritable,angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and trapped. “Estimates of the prevalence of this disorder within the general publicrange from between one and two percent. The disease, as a whole, affectsmen and women equally. There are also remarkable rate similarities betweencultures and countries. Usually, people with this disorder experience theirfirst episode of depression or mania in their twenties, though the age offirst episode can occur later in life.
There are two separate classifications of bipolar disorder: Bipolar 1 andBipolar 2. Bipolar 1 is typified by manic episodes followed by depressiveepisodes. Bipolar 2 is typified by hypomanic episodes followed bydepressive episodes. Thus, people with Bipolar 2 never experience an all-out manic episode. Women are more likely to suffer from the Bipolar 2 formof the illness. I found a web site posted by Glaxo Wellcome Research itemizing symptoms associated with bipolar disorder (1).
Someof the symptoms of mania include:1. increased energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapidspeech 2. excessive euphoria 3. extreme irritability and distractibility 4. decreased sleep requirement 5.
uncharacteristically poor judgement 6. increased sexual drive 7. denial that anything is wrong 8. overspending 9. risk behavior Some of the symptoms of depression include: 1.
persistentsad, anxious, or empty mood 2. feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt,worthlessness, or helplessness 3. loss of interest or pleasure in ordinaryactivities, including sex 4. decreased energy, feelings of fatigue 5. difficulty in concentrating, remembering or making decisions 6. change inappetite or weight 7.
thoughts of death or suicideThere is still debate as to the cause or causes of bipolar disorder. Someargue that a virus is the cause of the disorder. However, very littleevidence supports .