The Psychology of Bipolar Disorder

Imagine a seesaw and two people playing.  When the two individuals are at rest and completely balanced the right, left and center planes are in a straight line.  Now imagine the seesaw in motion where one person is elevated high in the air and the other person is touching the ground and exerts a lot of energy hoping to spring back if not to the elevated spot at least to center.  If only one person is moving from the left to the right and into the center position of the seesaw, this becomes a great illustration of individuals with bipolar disorder also known as manic depression.  According to The National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder is defined as shifts in mood, activities and energy needed to carry out daily activities.

mood episodes

An episode is divided into two major components but sometimes possibly three.  Episodes of extreme excitement and overwhelming joy and energy with a sense almost of being invisible is the manic phase.  Episodes of  feeling despair, hopeless, and sad having little or no energy is the depressive phase.  Episodes of excitement and despair are experience together is called mixed episodes.  Life is filled with routine ups and downs but bipolar disorder is much more intense and impedes ones daily ability to function in school, family, work, and society sometimes leading to even suicide.

Bipolar disorder once diagnosed will last a life time but can be treated medically.  If not treated the symptoms will get progressively worse.   Although the root cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood according to The National Institute of Health, what is known is that it runs in families.  Children who have a family member with bipolar disorder are four time more likely to have the disease than the general population according to Numberger and Foround, April 2000.

Scale of Severe Depression, Moderate Depression, and Mild Low Mood


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