How the Signs of Bipolar Affective Disorder Often Affect People
The bipolar affective disorder is a medical condition marked by mood swings that are much more severe than what most normal people undergo every now and then. The condition is more commonly known as manic-depression or bipolar depression and combines episodes of deep, brooding depression with elated moods (“mania”). The frequency and intensity of these severe mood swings differ among sufferers.
Estimates state that more than one percent of the population suffers from the bipolar affective disorder at least once in their lifetimes. While many sufferers go through a manic-depressive stage at least once every few years, others may take longer between attacks, making the condition difficult to diagnose. Once recognized, however, it is possible to treat the symptoms.
The bipolar affective disorder affects the brain, identifying it as a mental illness. It arises from irregularities in the brain’s physical structure (particularly in the hippocampus area) and chemical processes. Individuals suffering from bipolar affective disorder experience mood highs and lows that are drastically above-normal intensity. When mood swings persist in frequency, it often results in the individual being unable to function properly at work or at home. This also results in faulty decision-making skills and strained relations with the people around them.
Bipolar Affective Disorder
Experts have identified two classifications of the Bipolar affective disorder. Physicians make diagnoses based on the symptoms that the sufferers display.
•Bipolar I Disorder. An individual with Bipolar I Disorder suffers at least one manic episode (a “high” mood) or mixed episodes (fluctuating moods between depression and mania, often happening very quickly), in addition to at least one major episode of depression.
•Bipolar II Disorder. Less severe, Bipolar II Disorder subjects a sufferer to at least one major episode of depression and at least one “hypomanic” episode, or one in which the individual experiences a happy mood, but not so happy as to obstruct good judgment and function (as opposed to mania).
In order to diagnose a patient as suffering from one of the two types of Bipolar affective disorder, other special conditions, and circumstances that may also cause the above-noted symptoms must be ruled out. The individual’s medical history will be thoroughly checked for any previous records of mental illness. The patient’s family history will also be checked for any prior accounts of similar mood illnesses. In the future, blood tests may also help in arriving at more accurate diagnoses of the Bipolar affective disorder.
The bipolar affective disorder affects approximately three out of every two hundred people in the general population, and more people suffer from Bipolar I than Bipolar II Disorder. At any given moment, from one to two million Americans are affected by the Bipolar affective disorder. Research has so far failed to determine whether the Bipolar affective disorder is more likely to affect certain races or ethnicity. What has been determined, however, is that Bipolar I Disorder affects both men and women in equal frequency and intensity, while Bipolar II Disorder occurs more frequently in women. Women are also more susceptible to rapid cycling, when depressive and manic stages follow each other in quick succession, usually at least four times in a single year.
To date, the Bipolar affective disorder has no cure. Research, however, has made great strides in understanding this lifelong mental illness, and experts are confident that better treatments (and even cures) for Bipolar affective disorder will develop in the near future. For now, those suffering from Bipolar affective disorder may rest assured that its negative effects can be mitigated with medication and modifications in lifestyle.
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