Introduction to Bipolar and Related Disorders

What classifies a disorder as Bipolar?

Bipolar refers to two poles, or opposite ends of a spectrum.  One end of the pole is mania.  This is an elevated mood where an individual is described as “up”.  Depression is on the other end of the pole.  Having a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities is considered “down”.  If an individual is diagnosed as bipolar, they have experienced both mania and depression for specific periods of time.

Why not include Bipolar and Related Disorders with Depressive Disorders?

Depressive Disorders are unipolar.  Instead of having both an “up” and a “down” period, the individual only experiences a “down”.  Details regarding Depressive Disorders will be covered in the next blog series.

Are Bipolar Disorders and Manic-Depressive Disorder the same?

Manic Depression is no longer a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual diagnosis, however, the majority of its symptoms are now considered Bipolar I Disorder.  Two required criteria that were included for Manic Depression are not included in the Bipolar I Disorder criterions:  presence of psychosis, and “the lifetime experience of a major depressive episode” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2013).  Details regarding Bipolar I Disorder are outlined in Part Two of Bipolar and Related Disorders.

Names of the Disorders within the ClassBipolar Disorders

Each of these disorders has at least one common criterion:  “the disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2013).

Descriptions of Important Terms

The disorders within this class have common features:  mania, hypomania, and depression.  The combination of these three features and the severity of their episodes (a minimum and/or maximum amount of time that the symptoms are present) determine which disorder the client is presenting.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel 5 (DSM-5) defines these features as follows:

 Mania:  “abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy, lasting at least 1 week and present most of the day, nearly every day”;

Hypomania:  “abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently increased activity or energy, lasting at least 4 consecutive days and present most of the day, nearly every day”;

Depression:  “depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure” that has been “present during the same 2-week period and represents a change from previous functioning” (2013).

Further details describing manic episodes, hypomanic episodes, and depressive episodes are discussed in Part Two of Bipolar and Related Disorders where we compare and contrast Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorders.

Organization of this Blog Series

The Bipolar and Related Disorders’ Blog Series will have four parts:  Part One will cover Specifiers for Bipolar and Related Disorders; Part Two differentiates Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder; Part Three details Cyclothymic Disorder, Substance/Medication-Induced Bipolar and Related Disorder, and Bipolar and Related Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition; and Part Four describes Other Specified Bipolar and Related Disorder, and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorder.

Click HERE to read the introduction to this blog series, Mental Health Diagnoses!, which covers how diagnosis using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual- 5 works.

Stay Tuned for Part One of Bipolar and Related Disorders!

Reference

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Web. [access date: 14 March 2018]. dsm.psychiatryonline.org

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