Recreation and Leisure
School of Human Services
March 5th 2013
Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is the other major type of mood disorder. A person diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences alternating emotional swings that run from extreme “highs” to extreme “lows”. These episodes may have nothing to do with any particular event in life – they seem to spontaneously occur independent of any trigger. About one per cent of the population is affected by manic depression. It usually presents in adolescence or early adulthood, and affects men and women equally. (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2013)
Etiology: Bipolar disorder is derived from a family member, or from either parent. Children of parents that have this disorder are at a higher risk of inheriting the disorder. It is not known what causes bipolar disorder although research indicates that a genetic predisposition may contribute to the condition since it tends to run in families. Substance abuse (alcohol and drugs) and stress may also contribute to its development. (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2013)
Several key factors may trigger bipolar episodes
Biological differences. People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes (Mayo Clinic, 2012).
Neurotransmitters. An imbalance in naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters seems to play a significant role in bipolar disorder and other mood disorders (Mayo Clinic, 2012).
Hormones. Imbalanced hormones may be involved in causing or triggering bipolar disorder (Mayo Clinic, 2012).
Inherited traits. Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a blood relative (such as a sibling or parent) with the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing bipolar disorder (Mayo Clinic, 2012).
Environment. Stress, abuse, significant loss or other traumatic experiences may play a role in bipolar disorder(Mayo Clinic,2012)
The Therapeutic Recreationist should be aware of the classifications of bipolar disorders: Such as Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder. (Canadian Mental Health Association 2013)
Some symptoms include aggressive behaviours, rapid speech, racing thoughts, agitation or irritation, increased physical activity. Other Characteristics may include reckless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol. (Mayo Clinic, 2013)
Medication & Potential Side Effects
Mood stabilizing medications and antidepressants are given to treat this disorder. People who have bipolar disorder continue treatment with mood stabilizers for long term. Some of the medications used to treat this disorder include the following:
Lithium sometimes known as Eskalith or Lithobid was the first mood-stabilizing medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1970s for treatment of mania. It is often very effective in controlling symptoms of mania and preventing the recurrence of manic and depressive episodes. (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2013)Valproic acid or divalproex sodium (Depakote), approved by the FDA in 1995 for treating mania, is a popular alternative to lithium for bipolar disorder. It is generally as effective as lithium for treating bipolar disorder. (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2013)
People taking anticonvulsant medications for bipolar or other illnesses should be closely monitored for new or worsening symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviour, or any unusual changes in mood or behaviour. People taking these medications should not make any changes without talking to their health care professional. Different medications for treating bipolar disorder may cause different