Bipolar Diseases in the Air

Mental disorders are becoming a more recognized illness in today's society.Psychological stress and genetic backgrounds are two of the main factors triggering these disorders.It is estimated that more than "17 million Americans meet the criteria for mental disorders" (Depression 1).This means that there are undoubtedly a small percentage of these Americans that, at one time in their life, will apply for an aviation medical certificate."According to FAA regulations a medical examiner is required to deny certification to individuals who show signs of certain mental disorders" (Depression 2).Bipolar disorder is one of these disorders in which denial of an aviation medical certificate will be sought.
Bipolar disorder is one type of mood disorder, with different characteristics that set it apart from the other disorders.Also called manic-depression, it is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function.It is distinguished by behavior that fluctuates from extreme highs to serious lows interspersed with periods of normal mood.Typically everyone does go through normal ups and downs.However, "Symptoms of bipolar disorder are more severe, resulting in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance and even suicide" (Jamison 24).Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life.Symptoms of this disorder are "decreased need for sleep, talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, psychomotor agitation, irritability, diminished interest, loss of pleasure in most activities, feelings of inappropriateness and even suicidal thoughts" (Simmons).These symptoms can have a major impact on pilots in both their social life and their ability to perform their job.
It has been found that bipolar disorder is not a result of just one particular cause but rather a combinati…

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