Understanding Bipolar Disorder

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Ok, this may not be the obvious parenting topic you’d expect, but it’s a subject near and dear and has further sparked my interest in the recent months.  I want to take this opportunity to discuss it openly and draw feedback from others who have suffered this disorder or have loved ones who have.  Those close to me who have been clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder have explained in great detail the symptoms, root cause and genetic predisposition behind this condition, but also the deep pain and suffering that they have endured during moments of relapse.

To better explain bipolar disorder, the most clear definition I found is as follows, “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks” (National Institute of Mental Health, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml).  This table supplied on the NIMH website breaks down the manic and depressive attributes:

There are specific prescription drugs available that will stabilize moods and help to carefully treat the manic aspects and lessen feelings of anxiety.  I won’t get into the specifics around medical treatments as I am not an expert and this blog is mainly to express my thoughts on the issue and shed more light on the seriousness of this disorder.  The statement below is a telling sign of how factors beyond our control can contribute to the beginnings of this condition:

“Bipolar disorder seems to often run in families and there appears to be a genetic part to this mood disorder. There is also growing evidence that environment and lifestyle issues have an effect on the disorder’s severity. Stressful life events — or alcohol or drug abuse — can make bipolar disorder more difficult to treat” (http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-disorder-causes#1).

An individual close to me suffers bipolar disorder because her father was diagnosed with it early on and it was carried down.  She is diligent in taking medication to address the chemical imbalance but she has also implemented drastic changes in her lifestyle including eating very healthy, exercising, meditation and spiritual healing.   I have not witnessed a relapse in my friend for years and I truly believe this is due to her lifestyle changes more so than the medication.

I recently read an article about “Late Onset Bipolar Disorder” mentioned on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2848458/).  Although the disorder typically affects individuals between 20-40, there is a large number of elderly battling with the disease and there are some findings that indicate an association with dementia and strokes (resulting in limited blood flow to the brain).  See article (http://www.cascadebh.com/bipolar/seniors/signs-symptoms-effects#Causes-of-Late-Life-Bipolar-Disorder).

So as I continue my research on the subject which is, admittedly, a potential topic for a future paper as part of a Master’s Research Design course , I will circle back on the topic in future blogs.  Thank you all for reading.