Once known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression, this psychiatric disorder affects mood, energy, concentration and the ability to function. The disorder is evident when there is a distinct mood shift from elation to hopelessness. When the manic periods are less severe, they are known as hypomanic episodes.
To date, there are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder and cyclothymic disorder.
Types of Disorders
Bipolar I Disorder
The length of clear manic episodes is at least seven days and requires hospitalization. Depressive episodes last around two weeks. Depressive and manic symptoms can occur alongside each other.
Bipolar II Disorder
Unlike bipolar I disorder, this type is typically characterized by depressive and hypomanic episodes. These are called episodes with mixed features. Full-blown manic episodes do not define this disorder.
Also known as cyclothymia, this type of disorder widely varies. It is defined by periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years. In adolescents and children, they must last for one year. Symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for hypomanic and depressive episodes.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Only a doctor or licensed healthcare provider can properly diagnose these disorders. Physical exams and other medical tests will be performed to ensure there is not another underlying or presenting condition. A mental health evaluation will then be completed. Diagnosis by a mental healthcare provider is usually based on symptoms, lifetime/family history and experiences.