Bipolar Disorder

Of fairly recent origin, the term Bipolar Disorder refers to the cycling between high and low episodes and is a psychiatric diagnosis describing a category of mood disorders defined by the existence of one or more abnormally elevated energy levels with or without one or more depressive episodes.

Clinically referred to as mania, the elevated moods generally occur along with depressive episodes and are usually separated by periods of “normal” mood.  In some individuals, depression and mania rapidly alternates which is known as rapid cycling.  In extreme cases of mania, psychotic symptoms such as delusion and hallucinations can arise.

Although the exact cause of Bipolar Disorder is unknown, studies show the three main causes to be:

Genetics

Many chromosomal regions and candidate genes appear to be related to the development of the disorder, but results are not consistent and rarely replicated.

 

Physiologically

The reduction of brain volume and specific anatomical differences in two areas; the prefrontal cortex and sub-cortical.

 

Environmental

Difficulties with adversity and conflict early on in life as well as traumatic/abusive experiences.

 

Unfortunately, the disorder can cause suicidal ideation which leads to suicidal attempts.  The annual average suicide rate of 0.4% is 10 to 20 times that of the general population.  Luckily, with treatment, individuals suffering from bipolar disorder have a good prognosis and many can lead full and satisfying lives.