Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes changes in a persons mood, energy and ability to function. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings that usually occur during distinct period of days to weeks, called mood episodes. These mood episodes include emotional highs, with abnormal happiness or irritable mood (mania or hypomania) and lows, with sad mood (depression).
When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly.
People without bipolar disorder experience mood fluctuations as well. However, these mood changes typically last hours rather than days. Also, these changes have less impact in the daily routine of the person.
This category includes three different types of diagnoses: bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder.
Bipolar I Disorder
For a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the patient has had at least one manic episode, that may have been preceded by and may be followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes.
Bipolar II Disorder
For a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, the patient has had at least one each of a major depressive episode and a hypomanic episode, but there has never been a manic episode.
For a diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder, the patient has had at least two years (or one year in children and adolescents) of many ups and downs of mood that don’t meet the criteria for any of the mood episodes (manic, hypomanic and major depressive).
A manic episode is characterized by an abnormal and persistent elevated, expansive or irritable mood and goal-directed activity or energy. It lasts at least one week and is present most of the day nearly every day.
The episode includes at least three or more of these symptoms:
Hypomania is a ‘mania lite’. Infact a hypomanic episode is characterized by less severe manic symptoms that need to last only four days in a row rather than a week. Hypomanic symptoms do not affect the daily functioning as much as manic symptoms commonly do.
Major Depressive Episode
A major depressive episode is a period of at least two weeks which includes symptoms that are severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty in a day-to-day activities. An episode includes five or more of these symptoms, and at least one of them must be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure: