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Bipolar Disorder


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Bipolar Disorder




Study: Routine


Eases Bipolar






Bipolar Disorder:


What is it Really?




Mood Swings and


Bipolar Disorder




Bipolar Disorder:


Manic Episode




Bipolar I or Bipolar


II Disorder?




What is the cause


of Bipolar






 Cause of Bipolar




Biological and


Hereditary Aspects




Does stress have


any effect on


Bipolar Disorder?




Bipolar Disorder







Psychotherapy for


Bipolar Disorder





Lithium Treatment



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Mood swings that accompany Bipolar Disorder 

Mood swings and Bipolar Disorder 

Many individuals experience subsyndromal bipolar mood swings over an extended period of time without major mood episodes, and are subsequently diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder. The mood swings associated with cyclothymic disorder include the presence of numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms (less severe form of mania) for at least two years with numerous periods of depressive symptoms.  With children and adolescents the duration must be at least one year.  Also, the individual must have these mood swings numerous times over this period of time without mania or major depression.  The symptoms cannot be considered to be schizophrenic related symptoms and cannot be the direct physiological effects of substance abuse.  Also, there must be significant distress or impairment in social, occupational and/or other important areas of functioning to be associated with these mood swings and to be a diagnosable disorder. 

Much less is known about this milder form of mood swings referred to as cyclothymic disorder, and people have a tendency to present much less frequently for treatment than those with full-blown bipolar disorder.  At various times, cyclothymic disorder has actually been considered to be related more to an individual's temperament and possibly a personality disorder.  Most of the available data however, concludes that cyclothymic disorder is indeed related to more severe bipolar disorders.  However, it is not currently known to what degree these types of mood swings are related to underlying dimensional characteristics such as temperament, however vaguely we may define that construct. 


Mood swings and Mood disorders: 

Mood disorders are much more than the typical mood swings.  Mood episodes are related to symptoms appearing over discrete periods of time, beginning over days or weeks, which eventually end after this period of time with relatively distinct onset and offset, resulting in altered feelings, thoughts and behaviors. In most cases, these symptoms are usually more intense resulting in depressive episodes, mania or mixed episodes, or the occurrence of only manic or mixed episodes. 

Major depression is much more than a mood swing: 

Major depressive disorders are discrete periods of depressed or low moods or loss of interest or pleasure in life, which must last for at least two weeks, but can endure for weeks, months, or even years.  These depressive symptoms are often accompanied by changes in sleep, appetite, judgment, energy and cognition.  The depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder are absolutely indistinguishable from those associated with major depressive disorder.  About half of the individuals with bipolar disorder experience depressive episodes which include symptoms such as decreased sleep and appetite, whereas about half may experience more "atypical" symptoms of increased sleep and appetite.  However, you also need to recall from the previous page that a differential diagnosis between major depressive and bipolar disorder is not made by cross-sectional symptom analysis but by a longitudinal course. See the previous page on differential diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

From DSM-IV-TR Mental Disorders: Diagnosis, Etiology and Treatment by Michael B. First and Allan Tasman

Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate (Health Psychology)

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