Caring for a Patient with Bipolar Disorder

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No matter where you practice as a nurse, you may be assigned to care for a patient with bipolar I disorder. Keltner (2011) describes bipolar I disorder as “the most significant of these disorders. The patient experiences swings between manic episodes and major depression” (p. 291). According to Murphy (2006), “bipolar disorder can be like a roller-coaster, with exciting ‘highs’ and very frightening downhill plunges” (p. 58). Most patients are more likely to seek help when they are depressed or feel ‘bad;’ therefore, Goossens (2007) determines bipolar disorder is frequently underdiagnosed. As a nurse, you will play a critical role in the detection of signs and symptoms of this disorder.
Manic symptoms are fundamental to the diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, and to meet diagnostic criteria, the symptoms must persist for at least one week (or shorter if hospitalization is required) (Keltner, 2011). Manic phases can have a sudden onset, escalate quickly, and they can last anywhere from a few days to several months. Symptoms of mania include talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, extreme irritability, impaired judgment, and social blunders may even occur. Individuals experiencing a manic episode have an inflated view of their importance, sometimes reaching grandiosity (Keltner, 2011). Involvement with alcohol and drugs is fairly common, and they are at a high risk of destructive behaviors such as suicide, addiction, and violence. Manic patients with extreme anger and
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