By| Published: May 24th, 2016
The exact signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person. Diagnostic criteria for bipolar and related disorders are based on the specific type of disorder. There are several types of bipolar and related disorders, which is why diagnosis is based on particular signs and symptoms.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I (Mania or Mixed Episode)
This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness that involves at least one episode of depression. The manic episode may be preceded by or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. The symptoms can trigger a break from reality (psychosis) and cause significant life impairment. The condition may require hospitalisation, as the manic episodes can be severe and dangerous.
Bipolar II (Hypomania and Depression)
Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. This form of illness is not characterised by full-blown manic episodes. Instead, it involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression, with at least one major depressive episode lasting a minimum of two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode lasting for a minimum of four days. These unpredictable changes in mood and behaviour can cause distress in various areas of life. Depression for longer periods results in significant impairment.
Cyclothymia (Hypomania and Mild Depression)
This is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression. Symptoms occur at least half the time and never go away for more than two months. Children and teenagers who have experienced numerous periods of hypomania (less severe than a hypomanic episode) and periods of depression (less severe than a major depressive episode) fall under this category. Adults may have exhibited the symptoms for at least two years to be diagnosed.
Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, substances and certain medication may be responsible for bipolar and related disorders.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teenagers
The symptoms can be tough to identity in these age groups since it is difficult to ascertain whether these are normal ups and downs. They can also be due to stress, trauma or signs of a mental health problem other than bipolar disorder. The most prominent signs may include severe mood swings that are different from the usual mood swings. Children who have bipolar disorder are frequently diagnosed with other mental health conditions.
Bipolar disorder does not get better on its own. Many people with bipolar disorder do not get the treatment they need. Often, they do not recognise how much their emotional instability is disrupting their lives and the lives of their loved ones. While they may enjoy productive cycles and euphoria, this is always followed by a depressive episode that leaves them worn out. It may also harm their relationships and finances. Getting treatment from a mental health provider with experience in bipolar disorder can bring these symptoms under control.