Bipolar disorder is also commonly referred to as manic depression. This term comes from the cycling that occurs
with this mental disorder, from extremely depressed to a very euphoric, or manic state. Bipolar disorder is
estimated to affect approximately 3% of adults.
Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose, and it’s difficult to distinguish from classical depression. The key
difference is that those individuals with bipolar disorder will also experience manic episodes, which are phases of
elevated mood or euphoria. These manic phases can include hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, racing thoughts,
increased energy and a decreased need for sleep. In some cases, a manic episode can involve irritation, anxiety, or
aggravation rather than the overwhelming happy feelings typically associated with mania.
Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder include distinct altering phases of depression and mania. During a major
depressive episode, typical depression symptoms are present, including feelings of sadness, loss of energy, lack of
interest in otherwise enjoyable activities, loneliness and apathy.
Interestingly, the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder may not be enough to diagnose this disorder, due to the
occasional presence of hypomania or a mixed affective episode. Hypomania is a mild manic episode and a mixed
affective episode is a simultaneous occurrence of mania and depression. Both of these instances can make
diagnosis increasingly difficult, because the normally distinct presence of manic and depressive episodes is blurred.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is classified as an adult onset mood disorder, although some studies have indicated the presence of
bipolar disorder in children. Due to the recognition of the possibility of early onset, the incidence of diagnoses of
bipolar disorder in children has increased over the past several decades. Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric
diagnosis that requires attention to avoid significant impacts on relationships, career, and daily functioning.