Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a psychopathology that affects approximately 1% of the population. (1) Unlike unipolar disorder, also known as major affective disorder or depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by vacillating between periods of elation (either mania or hypomania) and depression. (1, 2) Bipolar disorder is also not an illness that remedies itself over time; people affected with manic depression are manic-depressives for their entire lives. (2, 3) For this reason, researchers have been struggling to, first, more quickly diagnose the onset of bipolar disorder in a patient and, second, to more effectively treat it. (4) As more and more studies have ...view middle of the document...
(2, 7) The symptoms are: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, more talkative than usual, flight of ideas or racing thoughts, distractibility, psychomotor agitation or an increase in goal-directed activity, excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that may have negative consequences. (2, 7) This change in mood is observable by others and medications, substance abuse, or another medical condition does not cause the symptoms. (7)
In contrast to hypomania is mania, which is a more extreme case of hypomania. A manic episode is a period of an elevated or irritable mood for at least one week. (2, 7) The symptoms must cause problems in daily functioning and cannot be caused by a medical condition or drugs. (7) Manic symptoms are: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, more talkative than usual, flight of ideas or racing thoughts, attention easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant items, increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation, and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities which may have negative consequences. (2, 7) Lastly, bipolar disorder patients may also go through mixed episodes, which are periods when the patient meets the criteria for both a manic episode and a major depressive episode every day for at least one week. (2,7)
Due to the different mood phases, which the patient may experience, the DSM-IV (diagnostic manual of American Psychologists) has categorized two different types of bipolar disorder, I and II.
Bipolar I is characterized as any one of the following variations:
1. The patient having a manic episode without precedence of a depressive episode
2. Most recently in a hypomanic episode with at least one previous manic or mixed episode
3. Most recently in a manic episode with at least one previous major depressive episode, manic episode, or mixed episode
4. Most recently a mixed episode with at least one previous major depressive episode, manic episode, or mixed episode. (7)
Subsequently, Bipolar II is characterized as the presence or history of one or more major depressive episodes and at least one hypomanic episode, without a precedence of a manic or mixed episode. (7, 1) One of the problems with diagnosing bipolar disorder is that the symptoms may not be incredibly noticeable until the disease has progressed to a dangerous point. (4) The disorder is such that a manic phase may only last a few hours at a time. (4) That is, the episode can proceed as a few hours of mania every day for at least one week. The affected person may not mind the mania or may be in denial of the disease, and since it only lasts a few hours, no one else may even notice. (4) By the time people actually begin to notice the manic-depressive cycle (or just the mania) it has already reached a point where the patient is barely able to function normally. (4) In addition, many clinicians have difficulty first differentiating between bipolar I and bipolar II. Since the types of...