What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes a person to have extremely ups (known as mania or hypomania) and downs (depression).
When in a state of depression, a person often feels sadness or hopelessness and may lose interest in activities they once loved. Alternatively, in a state of mania or hypomania (less extreme version of mania), a person's mood shifts from sadness to euphoria. During the mania state, a person often is often full of energy but unusually irritable.
The mood swings from depressive to mania (or hypomania) can can affect many aspects of a person's life including their sleep patterns, energy levels, judgement, behavior, and their ability to think clearly.
DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Bipolar Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), or DSM-5, outlines that to qualify for a bipolar disorder diagnosis, a person must have experienced at least one episode of mania or hypomania, as well as a major depressive episode.
To be considered mania, a person's elevated or irritable mood must last at least one week long and be present most of the day, almost every day. During this one week period, at least three of the following symptoms must be present and be a significant change from a person's typical behavior. These symptoms include:
- A decreased need or desire for sleep
- Thoughts that are racing
- Being very distracted very easily
- Having overly high self-esteem or gradiosity
- An increase in goal-directed activity or agitation
- Being overly talkative
- Doing activities without regard to painful consequences, such as irrational gambling
The other part of bipolar disorder is having a major depressive episode, which often results in a lowly mood and/or loss of interest in activities once loved. According to the DSM-5, a person must experience at least five symptoms in two week span to be diagnosed with a major depressive episode. These symptoms include:
- Feeling fatigue or loss of energy
- Having a hard time thinking or concentrating, or being unusually indecisive
- Feelings of guilt or low value
- Thoughts of suicide, death, or suicide ideation
- Moving without purpose, such as pacing around a room
- Losing a significant amount of weight or decrease/increase in appetite
- Having a loss of interest in all or almost all activities once enjoyed
- A down or depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Bipolar disorder is best treated by a medical professional who treats mental health conditions, such as a psychiatrist. Other mental health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, or psychiatric nurses can be a part of your treatment team as well.
If you need help, there is hope! Reach out to one of our licensed bipolar disorder mental health professionals.