The purpose of this paper is to discuss bipolar disorders in adolescents. This paper will include a discussion on what bipolar disorders are. There will be a presentation of the causes and symptoms of bipolar disorders. There will be a discussion of the medical as well as the therapeutic interventions and this paper will also include the importance of treatment.
WHAT ARE BIPOLAR DISORDERS?
Bipolar disorder is a disease that affects one in every five Americans. Bipolar disorders often called Manic Depression, involve the appearance of two extreme emotional states. Adolescents that suffer from bipolar disorders alternate between manic and depressive episodes. Bipolar disorders are not just mental illnesses; bipolar disorders are medical diseases involving the brain. According to Waltz (2000), the exact causes of bipolar disorders are not yet known, even though bipolar disorders are treatable. Evidence indicates that the genes for bipolar disorders can be inherited, however not everyone who carries the genes develop the disorder. Many adolescents experience the occasional mood swing. In these cases, even though an occasional mood swing is an unexplained one, adolescents with bipolar disorders experience different kinds of mood swings. Adolescents that suffer bipolar disorders lower and keep dropping until life doesn’t feel worth living (Burns, 1999). On the other hand, the mood swings can swing so high that they start to behave out of the “norm”, seem to lose touch with reality, and they can’t function correctly. Waltz (2000), indicates that when these symptoms occur
during the important years of adolescents, they can be devastating and disrupting to normal development.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF BIPOLAR DISORDERS?
It is clear that in our society many people live with bipolar disorder; however, despite the abundance of adolescents suffering from it, definite explanations are still waiting to be found for the causes and cure. As explained earlier, the causes of bipolar disorders are not known but it is believed that it is caused by differences in the brain, genetic differences, neurotransmitters, and circadian rhythms (Acocella, Alloy, Bootzin, 1993).
The genes that a person inherits seem to have a strong influence on whether the person will develop bipolar disorder (Barondes, 1998). Studies of twins provide evidence for this genetic influence. Among genetically identical twins where one twin has bipolar disorder, the other in more than 70 percent of cases. Among pairs of fraternal twins, who have about half their genes in common, both twins have bipolar disorder in less than fifteen percent cases in which one twin has the disorder. Waltz (2000), states that the degree of genetic influence comes from studies of adopted children with bipolar disorder. These studies show that biological relatives have a higher incidence of bipolar disorder than do people in the general population. Personal or work related stress can trigger a manic episode, but this usually occurs in people with a genetic vulnerability (Burns, 1999). Other factors such as childhood experiences and social conditions seem to have relatively little influence in causing bipolar disorder. One study examined a pair of twins
in which only one member of the pair had bipolar disorder. The study found that regardless of whether the parent had bipolar disorder or not, the twins had the same high ten percent rate of bipolar disorder. This observation suggests that risk for bipolar illness comes from genetic influence, not from exposure to a parent’s bipolar illness or from family problems caused by that illness.
According to Waltz (2000), a deletion on chromosome 22 is probably at least part of the problem, likely leading to structural differences in the developing brain. The brain is the most complex and least understood organ in the body. It is the focal point of the central nervous system, which also includes the nerves of the spine. The central nervous system receives, processes, and sends billions of signals every day. The nervous system takes information from all of our senses and reacts to them in such a way that it controls every bodily activity, from basic breathing to circulation and so on. A single mishap in one of these events can lead to a neurological event such as a memory lapse, a seizure, or a manic episode. If this occurs a lot, the person then