Bipolar disorders are a spectrum of mood disorders generally characterized by extremes in high and low moods. The periods of high mood are referred to as mania, while the low mood periods are known as depression. Along the bipolar spectrum, there are three diagnosable disorders: Cyclothymic Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, and Bipolar I Disorder.
Mania is a broad term used to describe the extreme heights that are associated with bipolar disorders. There are two types of mania: mania and hypomania. These can manifest in either a euphoric or a dysphoric manner. In euphoric mania or hypomania, a person may feel increased energy, decreased need for sleep, elevated self-esteem, a sense of grandiosity, or a feeling that they can accomplish anything. They may also experience hypersexuality and lack of impulse control for things like spending and gambling. With hypomania, these things are usually at a level that is bothersome but manageable, however, sometimes with full-blown mania, a person loses all control and is unable to make sound decisions.
In dysphoric mania, a person may experience increased anxiety and irritability. Heightened sensitivity to the senses can cause discomfort as touches become painful, noises become overwhelming, and lights become too bright. Some may even experience biological symptoms such as a racing or pounding heartbeat, palpitations, and a feeling that they are vibrating from the inside out. Exhaustion sets in after a few days of not being able to sleep. Sometimes dysphoric mania or hypomania is also referred to as a mixed state because it carries symptoms of both mania and depression.
For diagnostic criteria, a manic episode must last for at least seven days or it must be severe enough to require hospitalization. A hypomanic episode must last for at least four days.
Depression is characterized by depressed mood or sadness, lethargy, a lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, weight loss or gain, change in appetite, isolating from friends and family, change in sleep patterns, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and even thoughts of suicide. Diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode require that symptoms must be present for a minimum of two weeks.
Cyclothymic Disorder is a condition in which a person regularly experiences shifts between high and low moods that are manic and expressive in nature, but that never fully meet diagnostic criteria for either a manic or a depressive episode.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II Disorder requires that a person have experienced both a hypomanic episode and a major depressive episode, but never a manic episode.
Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar I Disorder only has one requirement for diagnosis, and that is a manic episode. This disorder does not require that a person ever have a depressive episode, though most who carry this diagnosis do also experience periods of depression.
Bipolar spectrum disorders are complex and serious disorders. For more information, please contact our office.