Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Mitochondrial Disease
written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen
• edited by: DaniellaNicole
• updated: 6/27/2011
It is important to consider the relationship between bipolar disorder and mitochondrial disease when studying bipolar disorder as a form of depression. It is also important to understand the signs and symptoms for effective treatment of this serious condition.
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Bipolar Disorder Depression Symptoms
Understanding bipolar disorder depression can be difficult especially for those who are not suffering from the disorder itself. Bipolar disorder is classified as a mental illness in which the patient experiences extreme bouts of energy and then sinks to severe depression. This becomes a cycle for them throughout their daily lives. For a bipolar person it is not uncommon to be euphoric one minute and verging on suicide the next.
Bipolar disorder has many symptoms that are also symptoms of other mental illnesses so it can be difficult to diagnose. Several symptoms such as mood swings, social withdrawal, sadness, loss of interest and difficulty performing basic activities is often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety. Other symptoms of bipolar disorder depression such as irrational decisions, difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, extreme energy, trouble sleeping and feeling over confident may be misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD. It is important that doctors listen to the patient and take each symptom seriously so that a patient suffering from bipolar disorder can be diagnosed correctly.
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Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis & Treatment
Doctors do not completely understand why bipolar disorder occurs. There is evidence to support that bipolar disorder typically runs in families and if a parent or other close relative has bipolar disorder, there is a more likely chance that you may have it as well. If you discover a family history of bipolar disorder it is recommended that you make an appointment with a counselor who can help you better understand how it evolves as well as refer you to a professional if you fear you may be experiencing it.
Getting a definite diagnosis of bipolar disorder depression is difficult. There are no tests available that can diagnose bipolar disorder though tests may be performed to rule out other conditions that could alter a patient’s mental state. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder a doctor or therapist will ask a series of detailed questions about your symptoms and family history. To be positively diagnosed the patient must have had at least one manic episode that lasted a minimum of one week, unless hospitalized during this episode. During a manic episode, the patient must exhibit at least three symptoms of mania such as wild and irrational behavior, racing thoughts, acting extremely irresponsible or participating in dangerous activities (these are just some of the symptoms of mania).
It is important to remember that there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but it can be managed with medicine and therapy. Mediations such a mood stabilizers will need to be taken daily. Antipsychotics can be used during manic episodes and antidepressants are used during depressive phases, but must be monitored closely. The doctor or therapist of the bipolar patient will determine the amount of therapy needed to help control their bipolar disorder. It is also important to get the patient's family and friends involved in the treatment so that they can better understand bipolar disorder, as well as how it affects their loved one.
Bipolar disorder affects more than 3 million Americans, which equals about 1% of the American population. It usually begins in people aged 15-24 and occurs equally between females and males.
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Bipolar Disorder and Mitochondrial Disease
Some researchers are working to determine if bipolar disorder is a mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial diseases are those in which the mitochondria of the body's cells are not able to create energy by burning fuel efficiently. At this time, there are over 40 known mitochondrial diseases. In order to determine if there is a link between bipolar disorder and mitochondrial disease, cell biologists, immunologists, pathologists, and other medical professionals need to work together to share information and new discoveries. If it is found that bipolar disorder is caused by mitochondrial defects, it may change the way the disorder is treated.
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NIMH. (2009). Bipolar Disorder. Retreived on August 10, 2009 from Website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml
PubMed Health. (2010). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved on April 2, 2011 from PubMed Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001924/