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Overview of Bipolar Disorder

Info: 1741 words (7 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 19th Apr 2021

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Bipolar disorder is one of the most common mental health illnesses. Bipolar disorder is associated with severely debilitating symptoms in a patient. Its exact cause is yet to be established. The condition can affect anyone but research indicates that it can be genetically transmitted. In an individual, the condition is easily recognized by its distinct symptoms, that form the basis of its diagnosis. The symptoms in a bipolar patient can be identified as either maniac or depressive. The symptoms include mood swings where a patient may feel happy and energetic in a certain period and feel sad, hopeless and weak in another. Bipolar disorder, relating to the type and severity and symptoms can occur in various forms including bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BP-NOS). This research recommends that there is the need for further research on bipolar disorder to provide information that can aid in easing its burden not only to patients but to the society at large.


Bipolar Disorder is arguably one of the most common mental health conditions. Research indicates that the mental health condition affects approximately 4% of the population of the United States (McCormick, Murray, & McNew, 2015). Bipolar disorder (BD) can be identified as a chronic illness that is associated with severely debilitating symptoms that have profound effects on a victim. The condition can be noted to have been discovered during the time of ancient Greeks. At that time, the Greeks believed that the condition was caused by chemical imbalance in a patient’s body brought about by body fluids such as blood, black bile, phlegm, and choler. Relating to the different extreme mood swings experienced by a patient, there was also the belief that it was caused by environmental factors such as supernatural beings, stress, poverty, and education. The environmental factors were said to affect the mental wellbeing of an individual hence exhibiting the symptoms. Since its discovery, extensive research has been carried out regarding its occurrence in individuals, its different forms, symptoms, severity and treatment.

Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can affect anyone regardless of gender, racial background or socio-economic status. according to McCormick, Murray and McNew (2015) the condition usually starts in a victim’s adolescence and is noted to persist through adulthood. It usually lasts a lifetime. It is notable that children and older adults can also develop bipolar disorder. The exact cause of the condition is yet to be established. Due to the fact that the condition a wide range of people, who have many differences, occurs in many forms and its severity is unpredictable to determine, establishing its exact cause has been challenging. However, researchers agree that the condition is familiar, meaning that family genes contribute to its development in an individual. Despite this observation, it is not outright that individual will develop the condition merely because another family member has bipolar disorder.

Diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms associated with bipolar disorder guide to its easy diagnosis. Diagnosis process is initiated by an individual or family members or friends reporting about him/her experiencing its symptoms to a psychiatrist, who then assesses secondary signs of the condition in the patient. The diagnosis process is also faced with a lot of challenges. Usually, its symptoms are suspected to be due to other illnesses such as schizophrenia or depression. It is thus likely that a victim may take a while before it is established that he/she suffers from bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

As explained earlier, the condition is noted in victims due to its symptoms. The symptoms of bipolar disorder relate to the different moods exhibited by a patient. The symptoms are categorized under two classes: mania and depression. The symptoms can persist for a week or longer. Mania symptoms involve intense mood episodes that make a victim have extreme changes in behavior and energy levels (Dervaux & Laqueille, 2016). The manic episodes include aspects such as euphoric mood, talking very fast, extreme irritability, poor judgement, unrealistic beliefs and increased sexual drive. Depressive symptoms involve a victim having weaker and extremely low mood. The symptoms may involve feeling sad, hopelessness, guilt, having decreased energy, difficulty in concentrating and decision making, and restlessness. Usually a victim experiences either maniac or depressive episodes. However, the victim may also have episodes that he/she experience a combination of both classes of symptoms. A single symptom can last an entire day.

Forms of Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms of bipolar disorder also aid in the categorization of the various forms of the condition. The various forms of the condition include bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified, denoted as BP-NOS. Bipolar I disorder involves a patient experiencing manic episodes and almost always experiencing depression at some stages. Bipolar II disorder is identified by a patient having mild signs of manic episodes such that he/she is hypomanic (Bobo, 2017). Cyclothymia is also known as rapid cyclic bipolar disorder and involves a victim experiencing periods of mania, depression and hypomania at least four times in a year. BP-NOS refers to a condition where a patient experience symptoms of the condition that do not meet the criteria of the recognized classes.

Management of Bipolar Disorder

Various approaches have been established over time for the management of bipolar disorder. The management approaches are identified as either pharmacological or psychosocial interventions. The most common form of pharmacological intervention is medication through the use of mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-psychotics. Mood stabilizers are crucial for treating people with bipolar I and bipolar II as they help in controlling their manic or hypomanic episodes (Ayano, 2016). Anti-psychotic drugs are helpful to victims who experience severe symptoms of depression or mania that may occur in form of hallucination or delusions. Psychosocial intervention approaches are those that target to make a victim change his/her behavior thus being able to cope with manic and depressive episodes. Psycho education is one of the most effective intervention and involves providing information of the condition such as its occurrence and symptoms to patients. Psychosocial intervention can also be carried out through Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family intervention and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT). The aim of the psychosocial interventions is ensuring that patients receive effective care by care givers and those around them in the society.

Need for Extensive Research

Bipolar disorder continues to pose a challenge to the society. Its high prevalence indicates that there is the need for effective eradication of the problem. In the United States the condition’s economic cost that involves aspects such as purchasing medication, and hiring care givers escalate year after year. The efforts to curb the problem has also been faced by a myriad of factors. For instance, treatment of the condition can be effectively carried out but it does not always take place as designed by psychiatrists. Non-adherence to treatment among patients and severe side effects related to some of the medications have been noted to adversely affect the efforts to treat the problem. According to Cohen and Öngür (2018), there is also the concern that there is inadequate information regarding the management of the disease. There is thus the need to emphasize further research on bipolar disorder to help in developing interventions to curb it.


In conclusion, it is notable that bipolar disorder, relating to its high prevalence poses a challenge in the society. Bipolar disorder involves a victim exhibiting debilitating symptoms that not only affects the patient but also makes it difficult for caregivers to manage it. Anyone, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity can develop bipolar disorder but has over time been noted to be familiar. Its symptoms are identified as maniac or depressive. The nature and severity of the symptoms of bipolar disorder lead to its various forms that include bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BP-NOS). Pharmacological and psychosocial interventions are the major types of management approaches for the condition. Pharmacological intervention involves use of drugs to treat patients while psychosocial therapy involves providing information and training patients to help them cope with the condition’s symptoms. Considering its high prevalence and the ineffectiveness of treatment approaches, there is need for extensive research to help in managing it.


  • Ayano, G. (2016). Bipolar Disorder: A Concise Overview of Etiology, Epidemiology Diagnosis and Management: Review of Literatures. SOJ Psychol 3 (1): 1-8. Bipolar Disorder: A Concise Overview of Etiology, Epidemiology Diagnosis and Management: Review of Literatures.
  • Bobo, W. V. (2017, October). The diagnosis and management of bipolar I and II disorders: clinical practice update. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 92, No. 10, pp. 1532-1551). Elsevier.
  • Cohen, B. M., & Öngür, D. (2018). The urgent need for more research on bipolar depression. The Lancet Psychiatry5(12), e29-e30.
  • Dervaux, A., & Laqueille, X. (2016). Bipolar disorder: defining symptoms and comorbidities. The Lancet388(10047), 869.
  • McCormick, U., Murray, B., & McNew, B. (2015). Diagnosis and treatment of patients with bipolar disorder: A review for advanced practice nurses. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners27(9), 530-542.


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