Mental disorder

Because the disorder has two distinct phases- the high and the low- there are distinct sets of symptoms for each phase. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that about 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 and older have bipolar disorder. They list the following symptoms. The mania or high phase is described as a high energy phase with symptoms which include a euphoric mood or extreme irritability, activity and restlessness. excessively "high’ or euphoric mood. racing thoughts with distractibility, poor judgment. they can go for more than twenty four hours without sleep. unrealistic beliefs in one’s powers. increased sex drive. aggressive behaviour. Reckless behaviour, for example excessive spending sprees, has been noted in this phase. People have been reported to have bought very expensive cars and then destroyed them in joy rides without being aware of their behaviour and the consequences of such behaviour. There have also been reports of extreme violence resulting in serious physical harm, sometimes even fatal, by people in a depressive phase. This phase is usually accompanied by abuse of drugs such as alcohol or cocaine. Their behaviour is generally very different from their usual behaviour, yet they are not able to determine that anything is wrong.
The depressive or low phase is characterized mainly by a lasting sad or empty mood. In contrast to the manic phase energy is decreased with a feeling of fatigue. Other symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness. loss of interest or pleasure in activities, difficulty concentrating and remembering. change in sleep and eating patterns. suicidal thoughts. The person can suffer from chronic body pain for which there seems to be no obvious cause. Thoughts of death or suicide and even attempts at suicide characterize this phase. In some instances psychosis can accompany the severe mania or depressive phases. The psychotic symptoms include hallucinations or delusions. The psychosis can sometimes be confused with schizophrenia.
Although the mania and depression alternate in phases, in some people they may occur together and cause a mixed state which includes a combination of the symptoms resulting in agitation together with trouble sleeping. Another combination is that the person may feel very sad and hopeless while at the same time feel extremely energized.
The causes of bipolar disorder are not yet clear. Research is on-going to determine the exact cause. However it is thought that there is no one factor that causes bipolar disorder but several factors acting together to produce the end result. A genetic component is suggested as bipolar disorder seems to run in families. But twin studies have not confirmed a single gene as responsible. Since when one twin has the disorder it is not always the case that the other twin will also have it. But, the research so far shows that the other twin is more likely to have it than another sibling. It may be a number of genes acting together and affected by the environment. New brain imaging techniques such as PRT and MRI scans show a difference in the brains of people with bipolar disorder, but the information is not sufficient enough yet to clearly identify the differences in the brains and the exact location in the brain that may house the cause of bipolar disorde