In psychiatry Bipolar Syndrome and Manic Depression falls under a group of mood disorders where a person experiences emotional states where they go from being clinically depressed to states where their moods are elevated, or the opposite cycle, and can be or include both these mood states. This can be a crippling condition if it is left untreated or ignored, and has been known to cause suicide.
During the late 1950’s was when the term “manic depressive” first came about, although it is now commonly referred as Bipolar Disorder, which is the name for it now. This mood disorder will have been around long before it was discovered. Word such as ‘ania’ and ‘manos’ which come from Latin, used by the Romans. A Roman doctor by the name of Caelius Aurelianus came up with these etymologies (history of words). The meaning of ‘Ania’ is a creating great mental suffering, whereas ‘manos’ on the opposite scale can be translated as being calmer and more relaxed. Through centuries past those known to great minds have tried to work out how these strange mood swings have come about. Gao Lian, a Chinese encyclopaedist was one of the first to cite this illness in his ‘Eight Treatises on Nurturing of Life’; the Frenchman Jules Baillarger found that the origin of these frequent cycles of depression and mania could be explained through two phased mental disorder.
The concept behind what we know today as Bipolar Disorder was considered to be a German psychiatrist – Emil Kraeplin. Long before mood stabilisers were created, he looked at untreated patients and studied their case files and was able to sort them into those that were afflicted with this illness. He conceived and is known as the father behind the term “Manic Depressive Psychosis”. Under observations Emil’s patients were found to undergo cycles where they had acute depression one moment then mania, with intermissions in between where the patient had no symptoms and were acting normally.
While Kraeplin discovered the concept behind the illness, it was Dr. John Cade who was credited with coming up with the treatment. He discovered that Lithium Carbonate was effective as a mood stabiliser, suitable to treat all kinds of mental illness. As a pioneer for this medication, it was the first of its kind to be used for treating all psychiatric conditions, which were often treated by electroconsulive therapy or lobotomy.
Bipolar syndrome can be said to be having mood swings, but on a much more frightening scale. These abnormal mood swings will make an individual’s life very difficult or can enhance it depending on the severity of the disorder (on a scale from mild to severe) and which route it takes (a depressive or elevated mood). It can alter a person’s active and energy levels, their cognitive behaviour, affect their social life and disturb their normal sleep cycle.
Whilst a person is in their early teens they will just start of with depression which comes and goes. As they reach their late teens, the Bipolar Disorder begins to surface. In some cases, a person has started with this illness as a young child, and others later on in their life. Bipolar can strike anyone at any age regardless of their ethnic background, their sex, their race or their social class.
Females diagnosed with the illness usually began firstly with episodes of depression, whilst male patients are more known to have started with manic episodes. The disorder is known to be genetic, so if you are blood related to someone with this illness there is a tendency for it to passed on.
These changes or episodes of mood swings can last from a few hours and even for months; everyone is affected differently and have dissimilar coping mechanisms. Where a patient has four or more depressive episodes or mood changes and a combination of mania in any single year, they are known to have Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder.
A patient with Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder can reach a full cycle within hours or days. In Bipolar Disorder the patients progressively move through the mood changes. They are extremely unstable and it is difficult to find the correct treatment for each affected individual. It is the females who are more prone to Rapid Cycling.
Bipolar Disorder is classified and split into four types depending on the intensity and the patterns:
1. Bipolar I Disorder – A patient will suffer one or more mixed cycle, with at least one or more long episode of depression. The severest of all the forms as the manic episodes are extreme.
2. Bipolar II Disorder – The presence of one or major depressive episode with at least one hypomanic episode. The depression is more intense than the mania ( which can last for at least four days). A person can become quite destructive although it may not be troublesome.
3. Cyclothymic Disorder – Milder than Bipolar II, there are varying episodes of depression and mania which are acute stages, but less severe. They do not occur as much as in Bipolar I or II, but could progress to either one of these at a later stage.
4. Unspecified Bipolar Disorder – This is where a person is experiencing depressive and episodes of mania which cannot be classified in those conditions mentioned about, so a person can recover fully from this.
People should not regard this type of disorder as if it was something awful like Leprosy, and wash their hands of sufferers. They should learn to gain a better understanding, that this illness can be treated and stabilised with the correct medication. There is also excellent choices of therapy available to make this disorder more manageable so that patients can lead a normal life. They are able to take control again and be confident.