There are very few psychological conditions that can be as devastating for a person to develop as bi-polar disorder. This mental health disorder is a vicious condition that can be traced as the cause of various problems, including suicide. It is ranked as the third most common cause of suicide around the world and the sixth leading cause of someone being classified as “disabled.” Bi-polar becomes even worse when one considers it can be a recurring problem, plaguing people that have it for the rest of their lives. It is also sad that this mental health condition is rarely understood by the general public, to the point that most people tend to associate it with violent or criminal tendencies.
What Happens When Someone Has Bi-Polar Disorder?
As previously stated, bi-polar is a mental health condition that is typically identified by the recurring shifts between mania and depression. The sudden “swings” can often make bi-polar patients incredibly difficult to predict, particularly if the condition has been left untreated for long periods. The “swings” are not regular and can be spaced years apart in some instances, but patients with the condition often have an average of eight to ten within a lifetime. Certain external factors, such as one’s environment and peers, are sometimes said to aggravate the condition, but this theory has yet to be fully tested. Some patients experience psychotic episodes, particularly during the mania periods of the condition, but these occur only after very severe cases. Finally, younger patients with the condition experience chronic mania, rather than episodic, often accompanied by factors such as stress, irritability, and anxiety.
What Causes Bi-Polar Disorder?
Recent evidence suggest that there might be a genetic link that causes bi-polar. Studies have focused on twins, blood relatives, and adoption studies. According to the results, parents who have a mood-related disorder tend to produce offspring that have bi-polar disorder. Twins also frequently develop the problem together, though there are cases where only one twin develops the condition. The results have also shown that identical twins have a 43% chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to a 6% chance for fraternal twins. The studies also note that since the results for the twins study did not reach 100%, environmental factors may also play a role in the development. Whether they merely activate the genetic trigger or if they are the direct cause, however, remains to be seen.
How Do You Treat Bi-Polar Disorder?
Treatment of bi-polar disorder can be rather extensive, as it usually involves a lifetime of therapy and the use of some form of medication. Usually, the medication prescribed to accompany the therapy is a mood stabilizing drug, such as lithium, valproic acid, or carbamazepine. These medications only help suppress the mood swings and shifts, but are not known to completely remove the disorder. There is a certain level of difficulty in treating the condition as the episodes can occur with years of interval between them. In some extreme cases, anti-psychotic medication can also be given to help. Nutritional supplements have had no noticeable effects during testing, despite some claims to the contrary. Currently, the best treatment known consists of psychotherapy, mood-stabilizing medication, and psychoeducation.