Bipolar Disorder: What do I need to know?
Bipolar I disorder: Help
is on the way!
I Disorder is the diagnostic category for a constellation of symptoms that
includes at least one episode of major depression and one or more manic
episodes. At an earlier point in time, bipolar I disorder was referred to
commonly by the diagnostic name of manic depression. It may be distinguished
from major depressive disorder in several ways. While major depression has a
much higher predominance of females than males, bipolar
disorder is fairly
evenly distributed among both sexes and usually has an age of onset during
adolescence and early adulthood. Bipolar disorder has a prevalence rate of
approximately 1% of the population. Also, it is almost always recurrent
and may manifest a certain amount of symptom progression.
Bipolar II Disorders are divided into Single Manic Episodes and recurrent
type of episodes. Most individuals with a Single Manic Episode however
(approximately 90 %- 95 %), go on to have additional manic or Major Depressive
Episodes. It is therefore imperative that when an individual has a Single Manic
Episode, that the individual and family are made aware that additional episodes
are almost inevitable, and must seek immediate treatment. While many are aware
of the symptoms of depression, including low mood, lack of interest in normal
activities, sleep problems, psychomotor retardation or agitation, feelings of
helplessness or/or hopelessness and unremitting guilt, most are not really aware
of symptoms of mania. Manic episodes include hyper-talkativeness, very
high-energy level, inflated self-esteem and grandiosity, decreased need for
sleep, flight of ideas, high level of distractibility, increased goal direct
activity or psychomotor agitation, and excessive involvement in pleasurable
activities that have a high potential for painful consequences. This abnormal
mood usually persists for at least one week and is usually accompanied by a
persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood. Frequently this condition
can be quite debilitating, resulting in severe impairment in their usual
occupational and social functioning. Finally, the symptoms must not be
attributable to any physiological conditions such as substance abuse, medication
or any other treatment or general medical condition (e.g. hypothyroidism).
Many individuals will not seek treatment during a manic episodes, because of
the feeling of elation which is associated with this mood disturbance. However
treatment is absolutely necessary in stabilizing the mood. In most cases,
medication is required, and includes such mood stabilizers as Lithium, Tegretol
and Depakote. Also psychotherapy can be very beneficial in providing stress
management skills, family therapy, psychoeducation and assistance in medication
Finally, individuals with Bipolar I Disorder may be very impulsive and
erratic, and have a high incidence of problems with alcohol and drug abuse,
problems with the law and a much higher than average level of suicidal behavior.
Always do everything in your power to assist and facilitate treatment for any
with a bipolar disorder.
Additional information and
Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist
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Diagnosis - DSM-IV Diagnosis and Codes: In Alphabetical Order