Secondly, the social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects of bipolar will be described. Next, the interactive effects of class, ethnicity, and gender will be detailed. Following will be an outline of current treatment options and their strengths and weaknesses. Finally a conclusion shall summarize the main points of the paper and provide implications for research into bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness and is a psychological disorder that induces shifts in a person's mood, energy levels and their ability to function optimally in society. Unlike everyday ups-and-downs, the experiences of mood swings with bipolar disorder are much more severe (Kessler et al., 2005). In general, the disorder develops during late adolescence or early adulthood, although some people will have their first symptoms in childhood, or in later adulthood (DSM-IV, 1994). The consequences of bipolar disorder are dysfunctional interpersonal relationships, poor job and academic performance, isolation and at the extreme, suicide. However, the disorder is able to be treated and many people who experience bipolar disorder lead full and productive lives, contributing to the community and building stable support relationships.
The manic episodes are diagnosed by the presence of three or more symptoms of elevated mood occurring for most of the day, nearly every day, for a week or more. Depressive episodes are diagnosed when five or more symptoms last for most of the day, nearly every day, for two weeks or longer (DSM-IV, 1994).
The person experiencing bipolar may blame others for the way that they feel. As such, bipolar disorder may lead a person to isolate themselves from support networks, as their interpersonal relationships cannot be sustained over the erratic behavior. Family and friends may find themselves being shouted at, talked about inappropriately in public or having false accusations made against them. Bipolar disorder may result in the person becoming very egotistical or self-centered and this is not conductive to healthy social relationships, and people may draw away from the person with bipolar (DSM-IV, 1994; Goodwin & Jamison, 1990).
Bipolar disorder is characterized by significant mood swings, a person goes from an extreme "high" (mania) of feeling overly good and euphoric, during which they may or may not also be irritable, to a state of sadness, loneliness and hopelessness (depression). Like a pendulum the person's mood swings back and forth, although there are also experiences of normal mood in between the extreme episodes of mania and depression (DSM-IV, 1994; Kessler et al., 2005).
During a manic episode the person's thought tend to "race" and "jump" very rapidly, form one idea to the next. The person is easily distracted and has difficulty concentrating, and they tend to have unrealistic believes in their capabilities and "powers". During both the manic and depressive phases their judgment tends to be poor. In general there is denial by the person experiencing the episodes that anything is different or wrong (DSM-IV, 1994; Sachs & Thase, 2000).
During the manic phase, the person may have increased energy levels and be very active and restlessness, or creative and extremely "chatty".