The mania in manic–depressive disorder is a state of ‘high’ or ‘elevated’ mood. A manic episode (symptoms of mania lasting at least a week) refers to at least three manic symptoms for several hours, everyday over a period of at least a week. Symptoms of mania cover a definite range including: high energy, activity, and/or restlessness; high irritability and poor concentration; overly elated mood and sleeplessness, poor judgment, excessive sexual desire, and unusual behavior; unrealistic beliefs, excessively fast speech, and hopping from one idea to another without transition; spending spree and inclination to abuse drugs. Mild forms of mania are called hypomania while severe mania is known as hypermania.
Depression is the other pole for patients of bipolar disorders. Depression is generally characterized by low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and fatigue or low motivation toward enjoying daily life. It is the state commonly known as the ‘blues’. Depression is diagnosed if at least five depressive symptoms stay for several hours everyday over a period of at least two weeks. Symptoms of depression include: persistent feelings of sorrow, emptiness, or helplessness; feelings of guilt and worthless ness; low sex-drive and loss of interest in life activities; too much or too little sleep; pain or other physical symptoms without any apparent physical cause; feelings of fatigue or slowing down; poor memory and difficulty in making decision; and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Based on the severity of the condition and the particular pattern of symptoms, bipolar disorders have been divided into various types: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, and Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Bipolar Disorder I: If a manic episode or a manic ‘mixed’ with a depressive episode happens daily for at least a week, the condition is called Bipolar Disorder I. it is often the most severe of bipolar disorders, especially known for intense manic fits (hypermania).
Bipolar Disorder II: In this case, the manic episodes are less severe (hypomania). For some patients, the hypomanic episodes may be so mild as not to interfere with work or daily life activities.
Cyclothymia: Cyclothymia is characterized by episodes of hypomania and depression, which are highly fluctuating and occurring irregularly. Patients of Cyclothymia are often prone to developing severe bipolar disorder in future.
Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: Bipolar disorder that does not fit into any of the above three categories is classified as Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and it varies widely from case to case.
Bipolar disorder is treated usually with medication that controls abnormal mood symptoms. Treatment varies according to the severity of the symptoms and the pattern of occurrence. In some cases, doctors may prescribe anti-psychotic drugs, especially for patients suffering more frequently from mania.