As more and more celebrities come forward with bipolar disorders, this once taboo topic has finally come into the light. Bipolar disorders are actually four different brain disorders that cause extreme changes in mood and behavior, in some cases impacting an individual’s ability to handle everyday responsibilities. Up to 3% of the American population – and more than 60 million people worldwide – have been diagnosed with some type of bipolar disorder. Many more may not be aware of what their symptoms mean and/or have not sought treatment and diagnosis. In addition, many people with bipolar disorder are diagnosed simply with depression and treated only for that aspect of their disease.
Bipolar I Disorder.
The most intense form of bipolar disorder, bipolar I is characterized by extreme manic episodes that last seven days or more, with manic symptoms that are sometimes severe enough that the individual requires hospital care. Major depressive episodes usually occur as well, generally lasting at least two weeks. Episodes of mixed depression, simultaneously exhibiting both depression and manic symptoms, are also possible with this type of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II disorder is characterized by a recurring pattern of major depressive and hypomanic episodes. Less severe than bipolar I disorder, an individual with bipolar II disorder usually does not usually experience truly debilitating manic episodes.
Also known as cyclothymia, cyclothymic disorder is characterized by frequent periods of hypomania as well as periods of depression over a period of at least two years. The symptoms of individuals with cyclothymia generally do not meet the extreme requirements for a full-blown manic or major depressive episode.
Unspecified Bipolar Disorder
Many people exhibit some of the symptoms of bipolar disorders without the full set of symptoms required to be diagnosed clearly among the three distinct types described above. These individuals may be diagnosed with unspecified bipolar disorder.
Mania, Hypomania, and Depression
People with bipolar disorders tend to experience periods of abnormally intense emotion, as well as changes in energy, activity level and sleep patterns, accompanied by unusual behaviors. These distinct periods are called mood episodes, and they are radically different from the typical spectrum of moods and behaviors most people experience.
Symptom of depression may include:
Symptom of mania may include:
Symptom of hypomania may include:
While mania and hypomania share many symptoms, those who experience a manic episode are more prone to self-destructive behavior, while those who are hypomanic are often at their most productive at work, at home, and in personal relationships during these phases. The danger of hypomania, however, is that it may cycle into either full-blown mania or depression. Some people also experience mixed episodes, which include elements from more than one group of symptoms. A trained psychiatrist is the best person to accurately diagnose and treat bipolar disorders.