Characteristics of Bipolar Disorders Essay

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Characteristics of Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function (Mental Help Net, 2004). Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide.

Bipolar Disorder is broken down into two types:

Bipolar I: For a diagnosis of Bipolar I disorder, at least one manic or mixed episode clearly is or has been present (APA, 2000). DSM-IV Criteria for Bipolar I Disorder consists of:

One or more Manic or Mixed episodes
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Bipolar II: Similar to Bipolar I Disorder, there are periods of highs as described above and often followed by periods of depression. Bipolar II Disorder, however is different in that the highs are hypo manic, rather than manic (APA, 2000). In other words, they have similar symptoms but they are not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning and typically do not require hospitalization in order to assure the safety of the person.

A person's family history and genetics (diathesis) often play an important role in the greater likelihood of someone having bipolar disorder in their lifetime (Mental Help Net, 2004). Increased stress and inadequate coping mechanisms to deal with that stress may also contribute to the disorder's manifestation. Bipolar disorder is most often experienced as a swing between a manic and a depressed mood, which may often be related to increased stress or other event in a person's normal life (Mental Help Net, 2004). Nearly anything can trigger a person to shift in mood, and sometimes there is no obvious trigger at all. Often, the first manic episode is triggered because of some external stressor the person has experienced. However, the hallmark of Bipolar disorder is that the person's extreme moods often seem to come on of their own accord (Mental Help Net,

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