Bipolar and Related Disorders

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Overview – Bipolar Disorders 

Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a complex mental health disorder that affects an individual’s mood, thoughts, and behaviors. A person experiencing this life-altering disorder may experience dramatic mood swings that quickly shift from feeling incredibly happy and hopeful to intensely sad and hopeless. Although Bipolar Disorders are not curable, they are definitely treatable. With medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy, it is possible to lead a full and productive life.

According to the World Health Organization, bipolar disorder is considered to be the sixth leading cause of disability, affecting 45 million people worldwide. That equals all the numbers of people in the country of Argentina. Approximately 52 percent are female, and 48 percent are male. Worldwide studies have demonstrated an association between Bipolar Disorder and tobacco smoking behaviors in adults. According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older. The median age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25. It is considered an inheritable condition.

The moods exhibited with Bipolar Disorder range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very “down,” sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes. There is also a condition where symptoms occur that are related to taking and/or discontinuing specific medications and/or other substances. The symptoms of a manic episode may resemble those of cocaine with elevated mood and energy. The symptoms of a major depressive episode may resemble those of withdrawal. Approximately 50 percent of those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, also will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.

Bipolar and Related Disorders presents information on four different classifications, one type each day for four days

Bipolar 1

Bipolar I Disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by a distinct period of time when specific symptoms are present such as abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, and abnormally and persistently increased activity or energy. This lasts for at least 1 week, is present most of the day, and for nearly every day. The manic symptoms are sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning. The episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or to another medical condition. Bipolar I may last a lifetime.

Bipolar 2

Bipolar II Disorder is a mental illness that can be described as a pattern of one or more major depressive episodes and at least one episode of hypomania—am elevated mood that is either euphoria or irritability. It tends to be a lifetime condition.

Hypomania can subtly impair judgement resulting in unfortunate decisions along with a heightened sense of creativity and power. Hypomania can be difficult to diagnose because it may seem to be simply happiness. The symptoms do not impair everyday functioning in the way they do during a manic episode that is typical of Bipolar I Disorder, tend not to cause psychosis, and typically are not severe enough to necessitate hospitalization. 

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic Disorder (also called Cyclothymia) is defined by periods of hypomanic (mild form or mania) symptoms, as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years in adults and one year in children and adolescents). It is characterized by is a cyclic shift between depressive symptoms and hypomanic symptoms. However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode as aligned with Bipolar II Disorder. 

Substance-Induced Bipolar Disorder

A diagnosis of a substance or medication-induced Bipolar Disorder may be made if an individual experiences changes in mood—mania, hypomania, or depression—that were caused by taking or withdrawing from a substance or medication. Substance-induced disorders may develop in the context of either intoxication or withdrawal. . Studies reveal that suicide attempts are more common in affective disorders that are substance-induced. One study estimated an almost four-fold increased risk of suicide attempts when the mood disorder change occurs suddenly and unexpectedly in the setting of substance use. Many substances can alter the brain’s chemistry, leading to mania or depression that can last several days or weeks. 

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