Bipolar Disorder is a specific type of mood disorder that not only exhibits periods of major depressive episodes as you have reviewed, but also includes distinct periods of mania. A manic episode is a period of time lasting at least one week in which the overarching mood of the individual is characterized by a persistently grandiose, expansive, irritable, and/or elevated mood. Individuals experiencing mania often demonstrate inordinate enthusiasm for interpersonal and occupational activities as well as unsubstantiated and overblown sense of optimism and self-confidence. Given the high level of energy and impulsivity that is exhibited, it is not uncommon for the need for sleep to be significantly diminished. Speech at these times is often pressured and the content of what is discussed as often grandiose and seems to be characterized by a “flight of ideas.”
Keep in mind that all of these symptoms have to be severe enough to significantly impair an individual’s familial, social, or occupational functioning. It is not uncommon for individuals in a manic episode to engage in extremely reckless and dangerous behavior they can have negative repercussions on their relationships, employment, and financial standing.
For cases of bipolar disorder, the primary drug that is prescribed to treat this condition is lithium carbonate, primarily because of its prominent effect on reducing symptoms of mania. This drug is effective in not only reducing manic symptoms but also helping to ameliorate repetitive mood swings. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult drug to take on a chronic basis; patients often stop taking the drug when they start “feeling better” and begin to feel like the medication is no longer necessary. It often takes concurrent individual psychotherapy to help individuals come to understand that they, in fact, have a chronic mental disorder that requires life-long maintenance to maintain a healthy quality of life.
It is important for care professionals to think about ongoing suicide assessment for individuals who struggle with chronic and persistent mental health disorders like schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder. It should be noted that approximately 50% to 80% of individuals who report suicidal ideation have a history of severe depression. The second and third most common mental disorders for individuals who commit suicide are alcoholism and schizophrenia, respectively. Interestingly, and perhaps paradoxically, individuals are actually more at risk in the first three months following effective treatment of their depression; that is, once the heaviest symptoms of depression begin to abate, and individuals report having more energy and perhaps more clarity of their life circumstances, are they actually a more threat to themselves. This is important to consider as one begins drug treatment for this condition and continues to monitor an individual’s progress in treatment.
Prevention and Treatment
You will be examining the role that substance-abuse prevention programs and substance-abuse treatment programs play in our society. Given the multitude of variables – biological, genetic, familial, social, socioeconomic status, peer influences, comorbid mental disorders (e.g., depression) – that contribute to whether a person decides to take that first drink, huff, hit or toke – you can begin to understand what a complex undertaking these types of programs face. The burden to families, the economy, the healthcare system, and society has been great. There have been some significant gains in helping to prevent and treat the serious problems of drug abuse and dependence as well as some serious missteps over the years. You can learn from both.