Bipolar Disorder

1) Bipolar Disorder – What is it?
– a condition where a person has an experience of alternating periods of depressed moods and periods of manic or excited moods
– No one knows what exactly causes bipolar disorder. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry reports "the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of overstimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder." Researchers have known for decades that a link exists between neurotransmitters and mood disorders, because drugs which alter these transmitters also relieve mood disorders. Some studies hypothesize that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause. Others indicate that an imbalance of these substances is the problem – i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters. Still other studies have found evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the issue.
– A factor involved is stress. A “stressful life event” can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job, from the birth of a child to a move. It can be pretty much anything, but it cannot be precisely defined, since one person’s stress may be another person’s piece of cake. With that in mind, research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. However, once the disorder is triggered and progresses, “it seems to develop a life of its own. Once the cycle begins, a psychological or pathophysiological process takes over and ensures that the disorder will continue.” Substance use, lack of sleep, or other excessive stimulation all affect the way that the normal brain mechanisms for restoring calm functioning work.
– Bipolar disorder seems to be genetic. In families of persons with bipolar disorder,first-degree relatives (parents, child…

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