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Nursing Sample Essay: Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder essay


            Bipolar disorder is a mental disease, which is characterized by the sudden and unmotivated changes in the mood of a patient. Usually, it varies between the manifestations of extreme, overwhelming mood elevation and deep prolonged depressions. Bipolar disorder affects both children and adults, resulting in the serious mental deviations and preventing the healthy psychological development of an individual. Currently, approximately 3% of the US population suffers from this disease (Schmitt, Malchow, Hasan, & Falkai, 2014). In fact, bipolar disorder has become a frequent phenomenon in the modern world since many individuals cannot adjust to the hectic pace of social development.

Symptoms and Signs

            The symptoms of bipolar disorder are rather diverse. Firstly, it is essential to mention that this disorder reflects itself in two forms, including the period of mood elevation and depression. The first case is known as mania. The scientists distinguish between several forms of mania, in accordance with its severity and a level of displays. Usually, the period of mania occurs once in a week, although, it may also last during several months (Titmarsh, 2013). The typical symptoms of mania include rapid speech, impulsivity, irritability, tendency to accept quick and risky decisions, and high working productivity. Usually, this stage of bipolar disorder is also characterized by the increasing sexuality and unrealistic imaginations about the further professional and social activities (Barnett & Smoller, 2009).


            During the period of mania, individuals feel a great need in sufficient sleep and rest. The matter consists in the fact that all of the above-mentioned symptoms call for the enormous amount of energy, although the organism cannot produce it sufficiently. Besides, the extreme manifestations of mania include the emergence of psychosis and other mental deviations, which make the individuals break with the reality and live in the imaginative world.

            Patients who are suffering from mania tend to change their minds quickly as well as their sleeping and eating patterns. They do not follow any determined biological rhythms and tend to behave spontaneously and randomly. As a result, such a position leads to the appearance of other mental diseases or general exhaustion of body.

            The other side of bipolar disorder reflects itself in the state of depression and moodiness (Varcarolis, 2014). Contrary to mania, this period is characterized with the domination of negative emotions and thoughts. Patients usually suffer from oppression, anxiety, sadness, solitude, and unmotivated phobias (Kerner, 2014). The general work productivity decreases, the patients feel fatigue, and are exhausted to perform simple tasks and assignments. Generally, this period presupposes the reduction of the body productivity and energy as well as inability to perform body functions.

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            In addition, the depressive side of bipolar disorder affects the social life of individuals, too. Thus, at this stage of a disease, people feel shy to interact with other people, show unwillingness to spend time in public places or to make new acquaintances. They completely lose interest in communication and social life. In addition, the prolonged depression leads to the lack of interest in life and the emergence of suicidal tendencies. A loss of appetite and sexual activity, insomnia, and nagging pain (without obvious causes) are other symptoms of bipolar disorder at the stage of depression. Sometimes, the symptoms of two types are combined. For example, a patient can make grandiose decisions and plans for the future, feeling the general oppression and antisocial personality disorder at the same time (Swann et al., 2013). Thereby, the symptoms and signs of bipolar disorder are difficult to classify and examine since they coincide with the manifestation of many other mental diseases. Nevertheless, it is important to pay attention to the symptoms’ progress in order to prevent them or treat on time.

Triggers of Bipolar Disorder. Risk Factors

            Similarly to the diversity of symptoms, the causes of bipolar disorder are also various (Kerner, 2014). Firstly, this deviation is caused by the genetic influence. Frequently, bipolar disorder is inherited from parents to children. The studies show that the risk of acquiring the bipolar disorder genetically equals to 60-80% (Kerner, 2014). Still, it is not the main cause of this disease. To a great extent, its emergence is connected with the psychological deviations or mental diseases. For instance, certain brain abnormalities or malfunctions of brain cells can cause bipolar disorder. Besides, individuals who are genetically prone to acquiring this disease can develop the disorder through the frequent cases of moodiness and depressions, mainly in the childhood. Thus, they also belong to the risk group.

            In addition, bipolar disorder is also a result of environmental factor. In other words, urbanization, globalization, and a hectic pace of the social life do not allow all individuals to adapt to such conditions appropriately. As a result, many people find themselves unable to cope with the social requirements and to lead a healthy social life. Moreover, a negative social experience, bullying at schools, violence, or abusive and discriminatory actions also result in the emergence of bipolar disorder among adults.

            Finally, it should be mentioned that a neurological factor also contributes to the appearance of this disorder. Usually, it is connected with the neurological injuries, brain traumas, HIV infections, various forms of sclerosis, and other psychological diseases. Overall, the triggers of bipolar disorder are diverse in origin and nature. Nevertheless, they call for the detailed analysis and diagnosis for the further preventive measures and treatment.

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

Since the causes and symptoms of bipolar disorder coincide with the signs of many other mental deviations, this disease may remain unnoticed or unexamined throughout a long period. The main diagnostic method in this case is a natural observation and assessment. The doctors collect data from the recollections of patient’s family, coworkers, nurses, social workers, and counselors. Moreover, the diagnosis is based on the physical exam which helps to discover some signs of the disease. Still, there is no universal test for diagnosing the bipolar disorder. Thereby, the study of this deviation should include the analysis of behavior of the patient from the early childhood until adulthood.


            The treatment of bipolar disorder includes pharmacological and psychotherapeutic techniques. The hospitalization is required only in case of the excessive mania and overwhelming manic activities. In other cases, the patients can apply to the self-help and take care of their health personally. In any case, the treatment of bipolar disease is oriented on the decrease of the manic episodes and the elimination of negative emotions and oppression. For example, the patients are required to undergo the course of cognitive behavioral therapy in order to learn to adjust to the social norms and models of behavior. A family-focused therapy and psychological education are also of a great use in case of treatment of bipolar disorder (Varcarolis, 2014). They help to renovate the healthy family relations, return the interest towards life, and form positive social attitudes. Thus, the treatment of this deviation includes a range of techniques, aiming at the stabilization of the mental state of patients and elimination of the negative emotions and thoughts.

The Impact of Medications

In addition, a range of medications utilizes lithium in order to prevent the manic outbreaks and stabilize the emotional state of the patients. Lithium also helps to eliminate the risk of suicide tendencies among the individuals. However, this medication can also cause some side effects. Thus, it is estimated that a prolonged utilization of lithium leads to the general decrease of organism productivity and functioning. Besides, this drug evokes addiction and calls for the increase of a dose. Nevertheless, lithium can be quite beneficial in the treatment of bipolar disorder, if it is accompanied with the doctor’s control and nursing interventions (Brown & Tracy, 2013).

The Role of Nursing Interventions

In fact, nursing interventions are essential for the effective treatment of bipolar disorder. They include a regular observation of patients’ emotional state, removal of any sharp objects from the room, assistance in creating a positive attitude towards the life, and encouragement of optimistic thinking. In addition, nurses should take care of the regular medicine consumption and ensure the patients’ participation in the required forms of therapies.

Manifestations of the Disease among Children and Adults

It was already mentioned that bipolar disorder affects both children and adults. However, the manifestations of the disease may vary according to the age of patients. Thus, it is reported that children and teens tend to demonstrate more rapid mood changes than adults. Besides, the illness in the young age displays itself more aggressively, actively, and excitedly. In addition, children have no possibilities to control their mood displays as the adults do. Thereby, the bipolar disorder among children is rather unpredicted, random, and spontaneous. It calls for the great attention from parents and nurses in order to prevent the adverse consequences. The other difference consists in the fact that children are more likely to experience a mixed type of bipolar disorder, in comparison with the adults.

Family and Patient Teaching. Support for the Patients

A great role in the treatment of bipolar disorder belongs to the family. In fact, the support from relatives helps to reduce the symptoms of the disease and improves the patients’ health conditions. From this point of view, the course of treatment of bipolar disorder should include family and patient teaching. In fact, many patients find it impossible to follow the schedule strictly because of different factors. Therefore, there is a need to provide a patient-centered, humanistic, and effective teaching plan. It should teach the patients (and their relatives, as well) how to use medications properly and stop on such key points as the schedule of drug taking, medication dosage, their description, studying of the side effects, and a model of behavior in the case of emergency.

In addition, the relatives of patients have to be aware of the probable development of the disease and its symptoms. Only in this case, they will know how to provide the first aid with the help of existing methods and techniques. Nowadays, many clinics and hospitals are ready to provide the patients and their families with the comprehensive and effective teaching. Generally, the main aim of such a teaching is to stress on the importance of family’s support and help for the well-being and recovery of the patients.


            To sum up, bipolar disorder is a mental deviation which affects both children and adults. The causes and symptoms of this disease are diverse and depend on many factors. The disease exists in two forms, including an extreme mood elevation and depression. Very often, it is difficult to diagnose the disorder on time, on the account of blurred symptoms and unclear signs. Nevertheless, every individual can count on the support of the medical centers and clinics, which are ready to provide the essential treatment and preventive measures. Nowadays, a range of psychological therapies is available for the effective and productive treatment.

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