Blurred Gender Lines of Bipolar Disorder

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“When one is diagnosed with manic depression, one’s status as a rational person is thrown into question. What it means to be rational or irrational depends on what notions of personhood are in play, notions that must be understood in their cultural context” (Martin, 2007). In American culture we have a blurred line between what is rational and what is irrational. The biggest blurred line is between what is rational for a man and what is rational for a woman. Mania and depression that is within the context of bipolar disorder cross that line because today in American culture mania is considered a male characteristic, while depression is considered a highly female characteristic. But when you are afflicted by bipolar disorder you don’t get to choose one or the other; you are stuck with both ends of the spectrum. Although there is a reported equal rate of bipolar disorder in men and women, there are a myriad of significant sex and gender differences related to not only that culturally blurred line and it’s influence on everyday life but also the cause of the disorder and of the episodes, symptoms, diagnosis, and comorbidity that bipolar disorder entails. To understand the possible sex and gender differences we must first understand what bipolar disorder is, what it entails, and why it transpires. Bipolar disorder is a “brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks” (“Bipolar Disorder,” n.d.). Bipolar disorder is then divided into two main categories, bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. There is also rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, which is diagnosed after a patient experiences five or more episodes a year. Bipolar I disorder is characterized ... ... middle of paper ... ...es in bipolar disorder: a review of neuroimaging findings and new evidence. Bipolar Disorders, 14: 461–471. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2012.01014.x Martin, E. (2007). Bipolar expeditions: Mania and depression in american culture. Woodstock, Oxfordshire: Princeton University Press. McElroy, S. L., Frye, M. A., Hellemann, G., Altshuler, L., Leverich, G. S., Suppes, T., … Post, R. M. (2011). Prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in 875 patients with bipolar disorder.Journal of Affective Disorders, 128(3), 191-198. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2010.06.037 Sit, D., Rothschild, A. J., & Wisner, K. L. (2006). A review of postpartum psychosis. J Womens Health, 15(4), 352-368. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2006.15.352. Viguera, A. (2002). Managing Bipolar Disorder During Pregnancy: Weighing the Risks and Benefits. Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry, 47(5), 426.

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