There are many illnesses which serve as a hindrance to a person’s way of life. Some conditions prevent a patient from living a productive life, as the disease has detrimental effects on the mind and body. One of these illnesses is bipolar disorder. This psychological condition affects the lives of many people and may appear to hinder them from living their lives to the fullest. However, the latter is not true. With proper medication and treatment, those who suffer from bipolar disorder and their families can also enjoy life. One must only be properly informed about the condition to fully understand it.

Bipolar disorder is a psychological condition which is also referred to as manic depression (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2009). This condition is characterized by the constant changes in the mood and energy level of the person; these changes greatly influence the capacity of the individual to function. While everyone experiences changes in moods, the mood swings of a person with a bipolar disorder are extreme. The mood shifts are so severe that these have negative effects on the life of a person, which sometimes lead to suicide.

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Just like diabetes, bipolar disorder is a condition which lasts throughout an individual’s lifetime. However, it can be treated; if managed properly, a person with this condition can still live a fruitful life (NIMH, 2009). Bipolar disorder is marked by extreme changes in mood (NIMH, 2009). A person may be energetic or restless one minute, and then become miserable and forlorn in the next. As the person’s mood changes, the actions and energy level change as well. The phases of high moments and low moments of a patient are referred to as manic and depressive episodes.

Hence, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are determined by the symptoms of both mania and depression (NIMH, 2009). There are several symptoms of mania (NIMH, 2009). One symptom is restlessness; the person who suffers from bipolar disorder may have too much energy. Another symptom is an ecstatic mood. Other symptoms include irritability and the inability to concentrate; a person who suffers from a manic phase has incoherent thoughts. The other symptoms of mania are lack of sleep, inferior judgment, heightened sex drive and belligerent behavior.

It is also important to note that a manic person may also suffer from dependency on drugs, alcoholic substances or sleeping aids (NIMH, 2009). The symptoms of depression are the opposite of the symptoms of mania. A depressed person lacks energy and exhibits a mood of misery over a long period of time (NIMH, 2009). The person is also devoid of hope and may consider himself or herself as useless. Another symptom of depression is the inability to enjoy the things an individual once enjoyed. The depressed person also experiences a difference in appetite which leads to either weight gain or weight less.

The last symptom of depression is the contemplation of death or suicide (NIMH, 2009). There have been many speculations regarding the causes of bipolar disorder (Burgess, 2006). In the past, it was believed that the following have caused the psychological disorder: poverty, discrimination, lack of quality education, ineffective parenting and childhood abuse. However, these are not the real causes of bipolar disorder. There is this presumption that stress results in bipolar disorder, but this is also false. Stress per se does not cause the condition, but it does contribute in worsening the symptoms of the disorder (Burgess, 2006).

Bipolar disorder is actually the outcome of defects in the nervous system (Burgess, 2006). The condition is specifically the result of imperfections in the biochemistry and physiology of those areas in the system which is responsible for governing the mind, body and feelings. In fact, experts suggest that there are certain areas in the brain which cause bipolar disorder. These are the frontal and temporal lobe, amygdala and the hippocampus. A potential contributor to the condition is the excess reactivity of the person’s “natural stress response” (Burgess, 2006, p. 9).

Stress leads to the discharge of neurochemicals which exacerbate bipolar disorder. In addition, research reveals that genes are also responsible for causing bipolar disorder. Scientists have determined that the condition runs in the family, so there is a big possibility that children with bipolar parents will have the disorder as well. Studies reveal that there are genes which are closely linked to the condition; the bipolar genes are determined to be the following: 4p, 11q2-23, 18p11 and 22q (Burgess, 2006).