Bipolar Disorders Clinic

What is Bipolar Disorder?

American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV definitions of

Manic Episode

Hypomanic Episode

Major Depressive Episode

Mixed Episode

Also known as manic depressive illness, bipolar disorder is characterized by severe and disabling highs (mania) and lows (depression). Affecting 2.2 million Americans, this illness typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life, with 80% of patients experiencing multiple manic episodes and 15% ending their lives in suicide. However, effective medical treatments are available, and new research is constantly expanding the range of possible treatment options. With proper treatment, most people with bipolar disorders are able to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Bipolar Disorder is distinguished from Major Depressive Disorder by the presence of manic or hypomanic episodes. It is distinguished from Schizoaffective Disorder by the absence of psychotic symtoms (such as delusions, halucinations) during periods of stable mood.

Bipolar Disorder is really a spectrum of disorders. Bipolar I disorder is characterized by a history of at least one manic episode, and (usually) depressive episodes. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by hypomanic episodes alternating with depressive episodes. Cyclothymia is characterized by highs which fulfil some but not all criteria for hypomania and lows which fulfil some but not all criteria for depression.


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