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Depression & Bipolar Disorder

Updated on November 3, 2012

Bipolar disorder describes the cycle of emotion in the extreme ends of a spectrum of mood. The hallmark of this disorder is the highs and lows of mood changes that are expressed in emotional cycles. It has been suggested in numerous studies that neurotransmitters in the brain are influenced by an overproduction or underproduction of the usual even flow that stimulates neurons and creates balance in the brain of the individual. In a bipolar episode, these neurotransmitters are either over stimulated or depressed by low levels and disrupt the mood; and in extreme cases, may alter the individual’s perception of reality. Known as psychosis, this condition is a symptom that denotes a brain that has been overstimulated by neurotransmitters to the point that is known as "a break in reality."

Women and Men are Equally Affected by Bipolar Disorder

Men with the disorder tend to experience longer and deeper depressive phases, while women experience more sustained manic episodes and cycle through the maze of moods faster.

Mania Versus Depression: The Poles of Extreme

The cycle of mood shifts are influenced by brain chemicals, stressors, medications, alcohol, grief and loss of a relationship or career position. The mechanisms of Bipolar Disorder are not clearly understood by scientists, but they know much more than they did 10 years ago. The manic phase is when the person is stimulated by brain chemicals that produce a "High" effect. Much like when anyone experiences extreme happiness, the person with Bipolar Disorder has a sustained "excited" or "extreme happiness" that lasts for a period of time. The Manic Phase may be short or last months in duration. As the chemicals in the brain change, the Manic Phase may shift into a Hypomanic Phase that is much more manageable for the individual. After this phase, a period of normalcy or calm may occur, and if the mood continues to move down the scale, the person may experience extreme depression.

Bipolar Disorder: The Cycle of Mood Shifts

Represents the Cycle of Moods in Extreme Ends of the Spectrum
Represents the Cycle of Moods in Extreme Ends of the Spectrum | Source

Treating Mania and Depression: The Balancing Act

Phase of the Mood Cycle
Signs and Symptoms
Treatment Phase
Severe Depression
Debilitation, remains in bed, isolated and has suicidal ideations, unable to function.
Antidepressants and Anti-Anxieties, May Require Antipsychotropics
Mild Depression
Feels better and has a little more energy. May begin to become social again.
Antidepressants and Mood Stabilizers
Assumes a feeling of Normalcy
Functions normally, aquires an even mood and thought process. Able to concentrate.
Medication may be completely changed
Approaches a Hypomania
Overly Joyful and outgoing. Insomnia and may not eat properly. Feels "very good."
Stop Antidepressants and continue mood stabilizers
Maniac Phase
Speaking very fast, not eating, not sleeping, experiencing sustained euphoria, may become delusional
Mood Stabilizers, may need Valium or other calming medications
Not All People will experience the wide mood swings of Bipolar 1 Disorders
The Creativity of the Person with Bipolar Disorder is a Fascinating Phenomenon
The Creativity of the Person with Bipolar Disorder is a Fascinating Phenomenon | Source

Bipolar Disorder: Touched By Fire

Most human disorders are usually phased out by nature. Even in modern humans, a community usually opted not to support a person who exhibited a disorder, and often these individuals didn't have many children, or were not inclined to be accepted socially and may not have survived. However, this is not the case with Bipolar Disorder. Despite their eccentricities, the Bipolar community has been relished and revered by the less interesting due to their amazing ability for creativity and brilliance for centuries in history and modern times.

Bipolar Disorder and Fascinating Creativity

People with Bipolar Disorder have a rigor for discipline in the arts. They have the ability to concentrate and create works that take an incredible amount of discipline and dedication. A study conducted at Stanford University found that people with bipolar disorder scored significantly higher on creative controls than those without the disorder on a measure of creativity called the Barron-Welsh Art Scale. Some therapists have concluded that the openness of an an individual with Bipolar possesses a mind that is forever changing and challenging their reality is the very core of being an artist.

Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Types or Subtypes
Signs and Symptoms
Differences in Characteristics
Bipolar 1
Severe disorder with extreme highs and lows. Manic Phase and Depressive Phase. May experience Psychosis.
Most Severe of the Bipolar Disorders
Bipolar Disorder ll
Has the same symptoms with less severity in manic and depressive phases and behavior changes are milder that type 1.
Less Severity than Bipolar 1
Cyclothymic Disorder
Described by short periods of the depressive phase with brief episodes of elevated mood defined as hypomania.
May be Experienced a few Times in a Lifetime or Lifelong
Mixed Bipolar Disorder
Incorporates both the manic phase and the depressive phase simultaneously. The person experiences a “high” or elevated mood with feelings of depression and experiences suicidal ideations.
Rare Disorder

A Brain Scan Shows how Depression Affects Brain Activity

A simulation of a Brain Scan on Depression
A simulation of a Brain Scan on Depression | Source

We Pay for Our Gifts

Brain scans continue to reveal the effect of chemicals on our brain and behavior, but do little to display the beauty of our minds. Hopefully, in the future, we can have a better understanding of the mysterious organ we call our brain. The true fascination with being human, is our appreciation of the differences that reveal us, and not define us. We pay for our gifts, and our superpowers are given to us with perhaps a price. The person with Bipolar Disorder paints, authors, or creates a place that touches our souls. The physician with ADD is a better diagnostician because he doesn't miss anything related to the patient's examination, the young man with autism writes a computer program that no one else could see with their "normal brains." Unfortunately, It may not always be obvious to ourselves what our gifts are, especially when the cost is so high, but hopefully, the brilliance is obvious to each other. Our differences are what make us the unique and contributing humans that we are. Yes, we pay for our gifts.


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    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Ktrapp, yes, we pay for our gifts. Thanks for your comments and I really appreciate the support. I am so glad you found it helpful. See you soon at the hubs!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      This was really interesting information. I especially liked the thought you expressed at the end that often some gifts come at a high price. The brain scan depression image was also fascinating. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Excobana, thank you for your kind comments and I always welcome an expert to critique my work. I am so glad you approve and I appreciate your opinion. Thanks!

    • Escobana profile image

      Escobana 5 years ago from Valencia

      Good job and very well written!

      I'm an expert on Bipolar I and can only say you explained very well. Been through all the ups and downs and know all about psychotic episodes.

      Normally I don't like Hubs on Bipolar Disorder with pure information but yours is very nicely done with all the graphics dividing the text capsules.

      Voted up, Useful and Shared!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Docmo, it is always wonderful to see you. Thanks for the support and see ya soon!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Great summary of this disorder eHealer, you have explained the DSM classifications really well and given an overview of the symptoms and themes... well done.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Glimmer, It's always great to see you!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Good job eHealer. This has a lot of important info that will be helpful to many people. Love the tables!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      thanks for your support. much appreciated

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      hello LoveDoctor, thanks for reading my hub. I hope your friend gets help soon, and chances are they will. It does make it difficult for families or friends to deal with the stress of someone with mental illness. Perhaps an intervention is due. Thanks for visiting and always nice to see you!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      Thank you for spreading awareness. I know someone with severe depression and they refuse to get help. They really make it difficult for the rest of the people around them or they just enjoy the attention.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello, Eddy, thanks for your supportive comments.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and I am sure this hub will benefit many.


    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Crystal, for your support. I only wish to provide information and help in understanding bipolar disorder

    • crystaleyes profile image

      crystaleyes 5 years ago from Earth

      Very well written hub eHealer.. Very comprehensive and interesting.. your presentation and diagrams are very helpful. Voted up..

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      @ Crystal, thank you for your support, and for the Voted Up!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Paul, I bet Rajan Jolly can answer your question on natural and nutritional remedies. He is our Guru around here and is very knowledgeable. I'm sorry, but I don't know as much as I should. I am so glad you found the hub helpful. I will investigate your question though and get back to you.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      A very thorough yet concise hub. Well done! Voted up.

    • Paul Kemp profile image

      Paul Kemp 5 years ago

      Thank you, eHealer, for an informative and well-written piece. I always am on the lookout for natural nutritional ways of managing disorders -- do you know of any in this cases to take the place of pharmaceutical drugs?

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you Tsmog for your personal insights, I appreciate your points very much and will reflect on them from now on. It is an overall generality, people are not labels, they can only touch on syndromes. I can't imagine your journey with both BP-1 and diabetes. The work you have to dedicate to your health is just phenomenal. And you are a gifted and creative person, so I know I got something right in the article. Thank you again, I really appreciate that you can share your personal experiences with me. See you soon, Tsmog.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great article eHealer. You hit the high points nicely introducing Bipolar Disorder (BP). Diagnosed with BP-Type I w/psychotic features I can attest to the symptoms as real for the diagnosed Bipolar client/patient.

      I would like to emphasis the main difference between BP-I and BP-II is that a person of BP-II, when diagnosed with the DSM-IV-TR as a diagnostic instrument has not entered into or experienced Mania. Hypomania is experienced, the cycling occurs, yet a full blown manic phase has or was not experienced.

      My intent was not to be critical, yet add to with a distinction. Most Bipolar client/patients are Bipolar Type II. The fun part of a person with this diagnosis is determining normal moods / emotions / drives from those that are symptomatic.

      An example is I am diabetic. If I skip a meal I will exhibit symptoms of hypomania. Also, if I overload on carbohydrates I will exhibit symptoms of mild depression. And, anything that alters neurotransmitters - dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and etc. such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and etc. 'can' also exasperate or even actually 'trigger' a mood swing. Hence a favorite Poet is Edgar Allan Poe and his short story The Pit and Pendulum . . .