Compare and Contrast Two Mental Illnesses

Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar Disorder Page 1 Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar Disorder Angela M. Powell English Composition I Kim Elliott-White April 18, 2011 Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar Disorder Page 2 Brain disorders are commonly misunderstood due to the actions of the person living with the disorder. Education about brain disorders should decrease the misunderstanding of the disorders, and increase the support for those suffering with the disorder.

A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with distress or disability that occurs in an individual and which is not part of normal development or culture. Some mental disorders are diagnosed based on the harm to others they cause, regardless of the subject’s perception of distress. I will discuss the likenesses and differences between two mental illnesses affecting the brain. Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic and disabling brain disorder that has affected people for some time.

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About 1 percent of Americans suffer from the illness. People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may even believe that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to do harm to them at times. These beliefs can terrify them, make them feel withdrawn or extremely agitated. Due to the emotional instability of a person suffering from schizophrenia, they may encounter difficulties holding a job or even caring for themselves. Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 3

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive illness, is a chronic brain disorder like that of schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, activity level and their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder normally affects people in their late teens or early adult years. At least 50% of all cases are reported before the patient is 25 years of age. While people with schizophrenia have difficulties or may never hold a job or care for themselves; people with bipolar disorder can lead full and productive lives.

The symptoms of schizophrenia fall under three general categories. There are positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms. The positive symptoms are the psychotic behaviors or actions of a schizophrenic. These behaviors are not normal in healthy people. A schizophrenic may often lose touch with reality by having constant hallucinations. Hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and movement disorders are all considered positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Negative symptoms are disruptions to a person’s normal emotions and behaviors. The symptoms may be harder o recognize because they are normally mistaken for depression. Examples of negative symptoms are the lack of ability to begin Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 4 and sustain planned activities, lack of pleasure in everyday life, and speaking very little when forced to interact with others. Cognitive symptoms are the most subtle of the three symptoms. Like the negative symptoms, cognitive symptoms are harder to recognize without additional testing done on the patient. These are the symptoms that make it harder for a person to lead a normal life or earn a living.

Poor “executive functioning” or the ability to understand and use information to make decisions, trouble focusing or paying attention, and problems with the ability to use information immediately after learning it; are all examples of cognitive symptoms. People with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, have very different categorized symptoms. They experience distinct periods called “mood episodes”. Where there are three types of symptoms in schizophrenia, there are only two episodes in bipolar depression. The first episode is a manic episode and is caused by an overly joyful or overexcited state.

During this state a person may talk very fast, jump from one idea to the next or become easily distracted. The second episode is caused by an extremely sad or hopeless state called depressive episode. While in a depressive episode the person may feel tired or slowed down, they may become restless or irritable, or may even Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 5 think of death or consider attempting suicide. Though the majority of the episodes associated with bipolar depression may be categorized in either manic or depressive episodes, there are some cases where a person has symptoms of both.

The act of showing manic and depressive symptoms is known as a “mixed state”. The causes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are still unknown. There is no cure for either illness to date. Treatments for schizophrenia focus mainly on eliminating the symptoms of the illness. A schizophrenic patient is given antipsychotic medications as well as psychosocial treatments. Some of the medications given to treat schizophrenics are thorazine, haldol, prolixin, etrafon, or trilafon. These medications are some of the original medications used.

They are considered the conventional or “typical” antipsychotic medications used to treat the illness. Drugs like risperdal, geodon, zyprexa, abilify, invega and seroquel are all newer medications used to treat the illness. These medications are known as “atypical” psychotic medications. Antipsychotic medications help these patients deal with the everyday challenges associated with the illness. Those challenges may include: communication, self care, work and Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 6 relationships. Patients who receive regular psychosocial reatment are more likely to continue taking their medications and are less likely to relapse or become hospitalized for the illness. Treatments for people with bipolar disorder help the person gain better control of their mood changes or related symptoms. Because bipolar disorder is chronic, the treatment plan is very similar to that of schizophrenia. It consists of medications and psychotherapy to prevent and reduce symptom severity. Medications prescribed for bipolar disorder are separated into three categories.

These three categories are mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications and antidepressants. Mood stabilizing medications help control the abrupt mood changes in someone with bipolar disorder. Lithium, neurontin, and topamax are some examples. “Atypical” antipsychotic medications are given to relieve symptoms of severs mania or psychosis in a person with bipolar disorder. Risperdal, geodon, abilify and seroquel are all examples of the antipsychotic medications used to treat bipolar disorder and some of the same medications are used to treat schizophrenia.

Antidepressant medications are also prescribes to treat symptoms of depression in bipolar disorder. Paired up with a Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 7 mood stabilizer, antidepressants can decrease the chances of a person becoming mania, hypomania or developing rapid cycling symptoms. In addition to the three types of medications used to treat bipolar disorder, patients are also given psychotherapy treatment. Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that provides support, education, and guidance to patients and their families. There are several different types of psychotherapy treatments offered to patients.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps the patient learn to change harmful or negative thought patterns and behaviors. Family focused therapy explains and enhances family coping strategies to help their loved ones. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps improve relationships with others and manage their daily routines. The last therapy is psycho education therapy and it teaches people with bipolar disorder about their illness and its treatment options. Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 8 Although schizophrenia and bipolar disorder depression are both mental illnesses, they are characterized differently.

Brain disorders were commonly misunderstood due to the actions of the person affected by the illness. The recognition and understanding of mental illness conditions have definitely changed over time due to advanced research and medicine. Education about these disorders have not only decreased some misunderstanding of the disorders, but have increased support for those suffering from any type of mental illness. Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar disorderPage 9 WORK’S CITED PAGE Insel M. D. , T. (2000) Re: Schizophrenia and Bipolar Depression Retrieved from http://www. nihm. nih. gov/health

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