Bipolar Depressive Disorder

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Bipolar Depressive Disorder is a mental disorder preferably referred to as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) by medical practitioners. It is ranked the sixth leading cause of disability in the world by the World Health organization. It is a brain-related disease that affects millions of people every year. This essay provides the conditions description, the incidence and prevalence in the United States, common characteristics of its victims, signs and symptoms, cellular and systemic changes, causative factors, diagnosis criteria, treatment and future trends.

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It causes indifferent variations to a persons ability to function, their mood as well as their energy. The disorder affects people in social aspects that not only produces detrimental results to the victims but also the people around them. It causes poor performance both in school and at work, damages relationship and at the worst, it may even lead to suicide (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). However, people suffering from this disorder can be treated to full recovery and are able to resume their normal lives

A Description of the Disorder

The disorder mostly affects the normal functioning of the brain. It comes in three types which are the Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, and Cyclothymic disorder. It rouses feelings of despair and hopelessness among its victims. The disorder is differentiated from the normal low emotional moods that people experience as they go about their daily lives by the severity of its symptoms. It also brings about mood swings characterized by initiating an emotional shift from extreme highs to lows within very short periods (Stein, Kupfer & Schatzberg, 2005). It causes one to no longer derive pleasure in the activities that used to bring the joy. Its symptoms are unrecognizable as they are usually mistaken for normal emotional variations. Without treatment, the disorder tends to get worse causing more damage to its victims.

The Incidence and Prevalence in the United States and Other Parts of the World

Close to three percent of people globally have fallen victims of this major depressive disorder at one point in their life (Lopez, 2006). The lifetime rate of people diagnosed with this disorder varies in different parts of the world. India was found to have the lowest rate at 0.1% while the United States hitting the all-time high of 4.4%. Its prevalence among the adults in the US also comprises of 2.6% of the adult population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). In addition, more than 80% of the bipolar disorder cases have been classified as severe. Out of these, only 49% have been reported to be receiving treatment. It is estimated to be the most expensive diagnosis in terms of behavioral health care.

Among the high-income countries, the Unites States also ranked highest in terms of the percentage of its population suffering from the disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that three million Americans aged eighteen years and above suffer from bipolar disorder in any given year. A nationwide household survey reported that six point seven percent of the adult population have had a bipolar period within the past twelve months. These rates were still the highest compared to the rates in countries such as China, India as well as Colombia. These facts suggest that the United States has the highest rates of Bipolar disorder cases worldwide.

Common Characteristics of its Victims


The commonness of this disorder is quite the same in both the male and female genders. As such, the disorder is not gender biased in terms of number but rather in the varied ways in which it manifests itself depending on the victims gender. For instance, research has presented evidence that the rapid cycling bipolar in women is almost three time that of men. The number of episodes experienced also differs according to gender. Research indicates that victims of the female gender are likely to experience a higher number of extreme depression episodes than the male victims. Also, according to American Psychiatric Association, men are more likely to start with a manic episode while women first experience the depressive episode phase.


Bipolar disorder affects both children and adults. However, the early adult years and the late teens appear to be the probable onset of the disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than half of bipolar disorder cases begin before the age of twenty-five (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). For other people, the symptoms manifest themselves either during childhood or late in their life. The behaviors exhibited by children suffering from the disorder is also different from those exhibited adults. Contrary to adults, children become irritated and are disposed to outbursts that lead to destruction when depressed. When depressed, social isolation, sensitivity as well as headaches are common in children than in adults.


Across different ethnic groups, the rate of bipolar disorder remains to be equal. The difference presents itself when it comes to diagnosing the disorder. Certain ethnic groups such as African Americans do not receive the proper diagnosis for this illness. This may be attributed to factors such as the mistrust by health professionals. This undermines diagnosis of the disorder and further, the treatment of this illness. Other ethnic groups such as the Indians and Asians exhibit misunderstandings and stigma regarding mental diseases. Also, in times of emotional suffering, some rely on religion and family instead of health professionals thereby making the disorder persistent within those ethnicities and their generations.

Health Habits

There are certain health habits that are common in victims of bipolar disorder. They include irregular sleeping habits and maintaining an unhealthy diet. Skimping sleep is one of the most common characteristic in bipolar disorder victims. Shift laborers, as well as persons who work for longer hours, stand a high risk of developing the illness. Also, unhealthy eating habits that fail to balance the dietary intake leads to an altered metabolism of vital nutrients like fats. This is a risk factor for developing the bipolar disorder. Contracting the bipolar disorder also puts the victims at a high risk of obesity and triggering episodes.

Health Behavior

Victims of bipolar disorder also characteristically exhibit unhealthy behavior. Relationship conflict is most usually a result of this illness. Regardless of the relationship with the victim, these conflicts are capable of triggering stress that sends them over the edge. In addition, the negative social experiences are among the key factors that prompt suicidal thoughts among victims of bipolar disorder. Also, the behavior of substance abuse is common in bipolar victims. They use this behavior as a means of getting away from their depression, while in the real sense, abusing drugs and alcohol is the real cause of these bipolar episodes.

Socioeconomic Status

Research has found that there exists a positive correlation between bipolar disorder victims and their socioeconomic status. Most of the bipolar victims fall within the lower hemisphere of social class regardless of their educational background. The American Psychiatric Association reports that a victims socioeconomic status influences the psychopathological pattern depression. In fact, most of these victims are either disabled, single or has a meager income. This suggests that most bipolar victims are characterized by inferior occupational and social function.

Signs and Symptoms

Victims of bipolar depressive disorder often experience strong emotional episodes. This includes drastic shifts from normal emotional feelings to utter hopelessness and sadness known as depression. Furthermore, victims of this disorder are often irritable and may also be explosive when going through an episode of depression.

Symptoms of Bipolar Depressive Disorder

It is a state of hopelessness and sadness accompanied by feelings of nervousness and worry. Victims often lose their appetite for food or eat too much food than they usually do. They lack energy, have trouble sleeping and are unable to think or maintain concentration for long periods. They also exhibit regular feelings of worthlessness, guilt and often look gloomy for long periods as the feelings of sadness do not subside. Their sense of decision-making and remembering are diminished and they no longer derive pleasure in undertaking activities that would normally make them happy. They display a risk-taking behavior reckless driving and drug abuse. While in the depressive state, most victims have repeated thoughts of attempting suicide.

Cellular Changes

They are several biological factors that arbitrate the pathophysiology of the bipolar disorder at the cellular level. The adjustments of the signal transduction flow, as well as neuroplasticity, practically translates the primary biotic pathophysiology that leads to this disorder. The glial cells that play a vital role facilitating a network across the brain systems are also decreased. The Oligodendrocyte is the type of glial cell that is mostly associated with the bipolar disorder. It is the cell that manufactures Myelin, as a sheath that surrounds neurons thereby facilitating the connection between the brain regions. In victims who suffer from bipolar disorder, that protein that constitutes both the Oligodendrocyte and myelin appears to be diminished. As such, these biological adjustments interfere with normal functioning of the brain circuits which explain the imbalance between the normal and extreme signs showed the victims of this disorder.

Systemic Changes

The systemic changes that are associated with bipolar disorder emerge from interferences and adjustments in the biological block. The brain plays the central role to the normal functional of the whole body. Due to this, alterations in the brain chemistry during development is mostly liable for the development of this disorder. The neural pathways and networks are responsible for translating the external inside the brain. By using MRIs and CT scans, studies have identified that the genetic data enhances the utility of these pathways, and appears to be damaged among victims of Bipolar disorder. For this reason, they end up functioning differently by misinterpreting information such the expressions that people make with their faces. It also alters their reaction when faced with different situations, such as grief or loss of employment.

Causative Factors


Bipolar disorder is often linked with a stressful event that a person faces at some point in life. As such, people who possess a genetic disposition for this disorder are more likely to develop this illness when hit by major life changing events such as a traumatic experience or the passing on of a loved one. By employing effort to find ways of dealing with such kind of stress, a person triggers the intense emotional variation that may lead to a major depressive disorder if it persists.

Genetic Factors

Bipolar disorder in most cases is inherited. The genetic factors come into play here it accounts for over eighty percent of the cases. Children born by a single parent or both parents suffering from this disorder is more likely to develop the same disorder. Despite this, there is no distinct gene that has been identified as the sole cause of the disorder as environmental factors are believed to trigger the illness.

Brain Chemicals

There are three neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for its normal functioning. They include serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine. An imbalance of these neurotransmitters is believed to be a cause of bipolar disorder as well as other mental disorders. When the...

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