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What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Manic depression is also known under the name of bipolar disorder. This is psychiatric condition characterized by episodes of depression and mania. Patients usually experience hypomania or mania in combination with episodes of severe depression and these conditions may be also followed by the time of perfectly normal range of mood. It is hard to predict the duration of these episodes, but in the case when a person experiences mixed episodes, both ends of the mood scale, depression and mania may appear on the same day.

Adults suffering from this psychiatric problem experience mania as the time of increased energy and restless activities. Children have somewhat different symptoms. In them, mania is present all the time and combined with anxiety, irritability and depression. During depressive episodes there is a significant decrease of energy and activities, along with lower than normal mood.

Exact cause of this condition is still a mystery. Genetic predisposition and some biochemical and environmental factors are suspected to be involved in the development of this psychological disorder. For the time being, scientists and doctors believe that imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain is responsible for this problem.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Medications are commonly used by people suffering from manic depression. The drugs enable these patients to manage the disorder. One of the common treatment options for many doctors is lithium carbonate. This medication can stabilize the attitude/mood and it is used during the manic phase, in order to ease or completely stop it. Lithium carbonate may also affect depressive episode of this disorder and prevent suicide.

Additional drugs for people suffering from bipolar disorder may include carbamazepine and valproic acid. Some doctors and specialists use lamotrigine, topiramate and gabapentin, but the results are not conclusive.

Most specialists try the attitude stabilizers first and then move to anti-depressant drugs. Since these patients are already depressive doctors worry that antidepressant could lead to manic episode or cause rapid cycles of these mood changes. Bupropion is found to cause fewer problems than the rest of antidepressant medications, so it is used in the treatment more often than any other antidepressant.

Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is used when medications don’t work and people still experience major depression and suicidal thoughts. This treatment requires electrodes taped to the head of the patient and the use of anesthetics and muscle relaxants to numb the potential pain and ease the muscles. Small amount of electrical current that runs through these electrodes for a very short period of time (less than a second) should cause brain seizure. This is supposed to affect the metabolism of the brain and treat depression. Although no one can actually say why, this treatment is proven to be efficient.

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