Sample Essay on Bipor Disorder


Bipolar is a mental health condition of global health significance. Every year, nearly 5.7 million Americans of between 18 and24 years of age are diagnosed with the condition. The main causes of bipolar disorder include imbalance in neurotransmitters genetics, and environmental factors. The key signs and symptom of bipolar disorder revolve around with mood and behavioral changes, including long episode of feeling “high”, talking too fast, and being exceedingly irritable. Teenagers and young adults of between 18 and 24 years are most vulnerable to the condition.  Bipolar disorder has no known cure, although a combination of medication with mood stabilizers, psychosocial treatment and the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) enable patients to lead normal live.

Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar disorder (known in another term as manic-depressive illness), refers to a brain condition or disorder whose effects on an individual include unusual shifts in mood, activity levels, mood, and the ability to perform daily tasks (NHS, 2014). Nearly 5.7 million American adults aged 18 years and above are diagnosed with bipolar disorder each year (Psychology Today, 2015). While bipolar disorder has been shown to mainly develop in late adolescence to early adulthood (Psychology Today, 2015), there are reported cases of the disorder having developed during childhood or late in life (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). Symptoms of bipolar disorder can lead to poor school or job performance, damaged relationships and in extreme cases, suicide (Psychology Today, 2015). With proper treatment however, one can still lead a productive and fulfilling life.


Research is ongoing to establish the likely causes of bipolar disorder. However, scientists generally agree that a combination of several factors could increse the risk of developing bipolar disorder, as opposed to a single factor in isolation (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). Imbalances in levels of such neurotransmitters as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin are also believed to be the main cause of bipolar disorder (NHS, 2015).  Genetics has also been shown to play a leading role in the development of bipolar disorders. In this case, children born in a family with a parent or sibling whose has been diagnosed with this condition is at an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder, in comparison with children from a family with no history of bipolar disorder (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015).

Technological advances have played a key role in enhancing our understanding of bipolar disorders through genetic research. Scientists are showing a growing interest in understanding and studying other illnesses such as schizophrenia and depressions that manifest related symptoms to those of bipolar disorder. This is with a view to identifying whether there are any genetic differences between these conditions that could increase an individual’s risk for being diagnosed with bipolar disorder (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). Nevertheless, genes alone may not be the only cause of bipolar disorder, based on the findings of identical twins studies (Psychology Today, 2015). As such, genes, along with other factors have been seen to play a leading role in the development of bipolar disorder. Moreover, multiple genes, in combination with environmental factors could enhance a person’s risk of developing bipolar disorder.

Signs & Symptoms

            Bipolar disorder manifests in episodes or periods of mania when one feels very overactive and high and in periods of depression when one feels very lethargic and low (Psychology Today, 2015). Therefore, it is important to categorize the signs and symptoms of this condition according to the two episodes depression. These are summarized in the table:

Signs and Symptoms during the manic episode: Signs and Symptoms during a Depressive episode:
Mood Changes

  • The person experiences a long episode of feeling “high” when they portray an exceedingly outgoing or happy mood
  • The person is also very irritable (Psychology Today, 2015)

Behavioral Changes

  • The person has a tendency to jump from one idea to the next, talking too fast, and show signs of racing thoughts
  • The person gets distracted very easily
  • There is a tendency to increase one’s activities, like taking on additional work or projects
  • Being exceedingly restless
  • Not showing any signs of getting tired, and doing with very little sleep
  • The persons demonstrates an impractical belief in his/her capabilities
  • Demonstrating impulsive behavior, and partaking in high-risk, pleasurable behaviours
Mood Changes

  • The person experiences an exceedingly long period of hopelessness or feeling sad
  • There is also a resultant loss in activities that the person once enjoyed, including hobbies and sex (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015)

Behavioral Changes

  • The person reports feeling “slowed down” or tired
  • The individual manifest problems in remembering things, concentrating, and even making simple decisions
    (NHS, 2015).
  • High level of irritability or restlessness
  • Changing one’s sleeping, eating, or other habits
  • Harboring suicidal thoughts, and thinking of impending doom, such as death Attempted (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015)

Other conditions likely to occur alongside Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder are also likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Research findings show that there are many factors at play that could result in these alcohol and substance abuse problems. They include mood symptoms brought about by substance or alcohol abuse, self-medication of symptoms, as well as risk factors that influence substance-use disorders and bipolar to occur simultaneously (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). People with bipolar disorders have also been shown to manifest in symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (Psychology Today, 2015). Where these other conditions occur alongside bipolar disorder, it is important to include these in the overall treatment plan. Treatment regimen meant for bipolar disorder could also be used to treatment co-occurring anxiety disorders, or a separate treatment may be necessary.


Those at risk

Bipolar disorder is a condition of high level of significance in mental health, with one out of every 100 adults developing the conditions at a given point in their lives (NHS, 2015). Bipolar disorder is common during the late teens and early adult years (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). This means that those aged between 18 and 24 years are at a higher risk of developing the condition (NHS, 2015). However, there have been reported cases of the disorder among people outside this age bracket, albeit at relatively low prevalence (Psychology Today, 2015). Males and females from diverse ethnic backgrounds also have an equal chance of developing this condition (Psychology Today, 2015). Nevertheless, different people with bipolar disorder differ in terms of the severity of mood swings. For instance, whereas some individual may only experience several bipolar episodes throughout their lifetime, others are likely to experience very many episodes.


While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, one can still receive effective treatment over the long-term (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). Owing to the recurrent nature of bipolar disorder, the focus is almost always on a long-term preventive treatment. The aim of such treatment is to minimize the severity and number of episodes or periods of mania and depression (NHS, 2015) common with the condition. This enables a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder to lead a normal life. If an individual does not seek medical attention, bipolar-related mania could last for up to 6 months, while the depressive period may take up to 12 months (NHS, 2015). Nonetheless, once a person has received effective treatment, periods improve drastically in about three months. Most individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder can receive treatment in the form of a combination of various treatments


Medication is meant to prevent the occurrence of episodes of depression, or mania: usually, mood stabilizers are administered and they have to be taken daily over a long period of time. Examples of common mood stabilizers used in treating bipolar disorder include lithium, anticonvulsants, and valproic acid, among others (NHS, 2015).  Medication is also used in the treatment of the main symptoms of mania and depression as and when they are manifested. While these medications are effective in treating bipolar disorders, they share some common side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, and mood swings, to n ame but a few.

Psychosocial Treatment

Such forms of psychosocial treatments as psychotherapy (for example, talk therapy are also findings increased use as a compliment to medication in treating bipolar disorder. In this case, psychosocial treatments have proven useful in providing education, guidance and support to patients and their families (Psychology Today, 2015). Psychococial interventions that have found increased used with bipolar disorder include psychoeducaiton, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family therapy. Studies reveal that psychosocial interventions result in improved mood stability, improved functionality, and fewer hospitalizations (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015).



Other treatments

            Other treatments of bipolar disorder include the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and natural and herbal supplements. ECT can be considered in case a combination of medication and psychosocial treatment proves ineffective. On the other hand, the use of natural or herbal supplements has not been well studies and as such, not much is known regarding their impact on bipolar disorders (Psychology Today, 2015). It is important therefore to discuss these with one’s physician before trying them out. Lifestyle changes such as diet modifications and exercises also improve the condition.


Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition of public health significance. This is because when not treated, its effect could cause disjointed relationships, poor school or job, and could even drive one to commit suicide. Bipolar disorder is fairly common among those aged between 18 and 24 years, though there have been reported cases of the condition among people outside of age bracket. While genetics is a leading cause of bipolar disorder, interplay between genetics and environmental factors is also another common cause. The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder vary, depending on the episode in question that is whether it is a manic episode or a depressive mood. There is no cure for bipolar disorder and as such, it is important that individuals diagnosed with the condition accept and learn to live with it. Nevertheless, with effective treatment, one can lead a normal life.


National Institute of Mental Health (2015). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from 


National Health Service (NHS) (2015). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved from


Psychology Today (2015). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved from




Annotated Bibliography

National Institute of Mental Health (2015). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from 


            In this article published by the NIMH, the definition of bipolar disorder is provided, along with its known causes, in this case genetics is explored as leading cause of the condition. Individuals in their late teens and early adulthood are noted to be at the highest risk of the condition. Diagnosis of the condition is also provided along with various modes of treatment, including medication with mood stabilizers, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Finally, the article offers valuable advice on how to leave with the condition by complying with treatment. 

National Health Service (NHS) (2015). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved from


            This article begins with an elaborate description of bipolar disorder. The symptoms of both the depressive and mania episodes of the condition are also provided in details. The causes of bipolar disorder are also discussed in-depth, including chemical imbalances in the brain and genetics. Factors likely to trigger the condition have also been explored. More importantly, important tests conducted to determine the diagnose of bipolar disorder are also provided, as well as the various treatment options in use, including medication with mood stabilizers, psychological treatment, psychological treatment and lifestyle modifications.

Psychology Today (2015). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved from


Besides providing an elaborate description of bipolar disorder, the article has also provided useful statistics on the prevalence of the condition among the American population. Symptoms of both manic and depressive periods of bipolar disorder are also discussed in details, including other conditions that are likely to occur along with bipolar disorder. In exploring the causes of bipolar disorder, the article mentions the findings of twin studies that exonerate genetics as the sole cause of the condition. It also mentions of ongoing brain-imaging studies aimed at shedding further light on how the condition develops. Finally, the article dwells on treatment options for the condition, including medication with mood stabilizers, ECT, and natural and herbal supplements.