Running head: MOOD DISORDERS


Mood Disorders

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Mood Disorders

A mood disorder is a psychological disorder that affects the natural balance of moods and emotions in an individual. When you think of a mood disorder, the first thought that comes to your mind is depression or bipolar disorder because these are the most common disorders. However, there are other mood disorders such as dysthymic disorder and cyclothymic disorder (Canbeyli, 2010). Some of these disorders such as depression has been associated with low levels of serotonin. However, whichever mood disorder it is, it affects the quality of emotional life of the individual.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder whereby an individual experiences sudden and excessive mood swings. At one time the individual can be extremely happy and their mood suddenly changes to sadness and hopelessness. It involves episodes of mania and depression. More than six million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder. At times, bipolar is not recognized as disease and those who have it may suffer needlessly for years. It typically begins in adolescence and continues throughout life. There is no known cure for bipolar but it is treatable and recovery is possible.

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depressive illness, whose core feature is pathological disturbance in mood ranging from extreme elation (mania) to severe depression accompanied by disturbances in thinking and behavior.

Causes of Bipolar

Though there is no specific genetic link to bipolar disorder, research shows that bipolar tends to run in families. One may inherit a tendency to develop the illness, which can then be triggered by environmental factors. Brain development, structure and chemicals called neuro-transmitters are also thought to play a role in the development of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar

Bipolar is difficult to recognize and diagnose. It causes a person to have high energy levels, unrealistic thoughts or ideas and reckless behavior. The symptoms may feel good to an individual, which may lead to a denial that there is a problem. Another reason for the difficulty in diagnosing bipolar is that its symptoms may appear to be part of another illness or attributed to other problems such as substance abuse. However, the individual may show symptoms of mania. One of the symptoms would be excessive energy, activity, racing thoughts and rapid talking. Secondly, the individual is quick to deny that something is wrong. Thirdly, a person may feel extremely high or euphoric feelings and nothing can change that. Fourthly, the individual is easily irritated and has a decreased need for sleep. The individual may last for days without sleep and fail to feel tired (Miller, 2010).

The individual may also exhibit other symptoms such as unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability and powers, uncharacteristically poor judgment, sustained period of unusual behavior, abuse of drugs and aggressive behavior. If an individual displays any of the symptoms stated above, it is possible that they are displaying mania and consequently revealing that the individual is suffering from bipolar.

An individual may also display symptoms of depression which includes: persistent sadness, sleeping too much or too little, reduced appetite, weight loss, loss of interest in activity, irritability, difficulty in concentrating or decision making, suicidal thoughts and fatigue (Canbeyli, 2010). These symptoms reflect that a person is possibly suffering from depression or bipolar.

Treatment of Bipolar

Treatment is very important in order to achieve recovery. A combination of medication, professional help and help from family and friends is helpful for people with bipolar disorder. Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated with medication, the common medication being Lithium. Lithium is effective in controlling mania. Recently, Olanzapine, Carbamazepine and divalproex sodium, which are mood-stabilizers, are some of the medications used to treat bipolar (Canbyeli, 2010). The common form of treatment today is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which involves therapists teaching patients methods they can use to become aware of their distorted thinking and perceptual processes and then perform reality testing upon their distorted judgments so as to make them more accurate. CBT patients learn that the negative impact of bipolar manic depression can be reduced by learning how to identify and correct habitual thought and judgment distortions that would lead them to exaggerated conclusions. However, CBT can only work on patients who have insight into their bipolar symptoms. Hence it is appropriate for medicated patients and reasonably stable patients.

Peer-reviewed Research

One of the peer-reviewed research was a meta-analysis of neuropsychological deficits in euthymic patients and their first-degree relatives (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2009). The aim of the research was to delineate neuropsychological deficits related to genetic susceptibility, illness process and iatrogenic factors in bipolar disorder (BD). Meta-analyses were conducted for 18 cognitive variables in studies that compared performances of first degree relatives of BD patients with healthy controls. The results showed that while response inhibition, verbal memory, and sustained attention deficits were common in the patients and the relatives, the processing speed, visual memory and verbal fluency deficits were only observed in patients. The conclusion drawn was that processing speed impairment is related to medication effects thus indicating the influence of confounding factors rather than genetic susceptibility.

The second peer-reviewed research is the cognitive functioning in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. (Schizophrenia Research, 2005). The aim of the research was to review the studies on cognitive performance in bipolar and schizophrenia. The method of research was the identification of articles between 1985 and 2004 that talked about schizophrenia or bipolar. Thirty one studies were included. The results of the research indicated that patients with bipolar perform better than those with schizophrenia. The conclusion drawn was that patients with bipolar disorder show better cognitive performance than patients with schizophrenia.

The third peer-reviewed research is the meta-analysis of amygdala volumes in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry, 2008). The objective of the study was to examine the role of the amygdala size in regulation of emotion. The method used was to identify published neuroimaging studies of amygdala size in children, adolescents and adults with bipolar disorder. The results showed that smaller amygdala volumes were found in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder compared with the control group. In the bipolar adults, the amygdala volumes were not significantly different from the control adults. The conclusion of the research suggest that structural amygdala abnormalities are present in bipolar youths but not in bipolar adults. Future studies will be useful in identifying age-specific biomarkers of illness and treatment needed.

Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

The cognitive-behavioral approach holds the view that many but not all mood problems are based lesson physical brain problems and more on dysfunctional ways that people learn to appraise and interpret stressful events in their lives. The stressfulness of events in life becomes magnified and certain bipolar symptoms occur or are exaggerated as a byproduct of faulty judgments. As a result, the Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Therapy has been based on this perception and is widely used to treat bipolar.

Best Treatment

As seen in the subtopic on treatment, the most common and effective way of treating bipolar is through the uptake of medication. The mostly recommended and common medication of bipolar is lithium which is able to regulate the maniac symptoms. Coupled with CBT, a bipolar patient is good to go and able to live an emotionally stable life.

In conclusion, suffering from a mood disorder is not a choice but a condition that individuals find themselves in. however, this should not mean the end of life. Though some of this disorders have no cure, they can be treated and recovery is possible. Bipolar can be treated and so can depression. It is only important to identify the symptoms of any mood disorder and seek medical intervention. With professional help and support from friends and family, it is possible for any individual suffering from a bipolar disorder to live a stable and normal emotional life.


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