Bipolar Disorder Defined
There are five different types of bipolar disorder which are Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic, Mixed and Rapid Cycling. Bipolar disorder was once termed Manic Depression. The differences between the types of bipolar disorders are degree of mood changes and length of time in each mood state. Bipolar I disorder involves alternating between true mania and depression whereas Bipolar II involves a hypomania state which is less severe than true mania alternating with depression. Cyclothymic involves shifts in mood from depression to hypomania which are even less severe than the preceding two types and can include periods of time with a "normal" mood. Cyclothymic disorder is termed bipolar "like". Mixed bipolar disorder occurs when someone experiences both mania and depression simultaneously. Finally, rapid cycling is what the name suggests; alternating between mood states rapidly and must include four or more mood shifts within a year. However, a person who is rapid cycling can alternate between mania and depression several times within the same day. We will focus on bipolar mania.
The bipolar disorder mania state is characterized by an elevated mood and energy which can include feelings of euphoria. The person may feel on top of the world. However, bipolar mania can be very disruptive to a person's life because, in addition to feelings of euphoria, a person can become very reckless and impulsive in their behaviors and erratic as well as irritable and aggressive. In severe times of mania, a person can become psychotic. The following is a list of symptoms or behaviors that are associated with the bipolar disorder mania state.
- Flight of Ideas or racing thoughts, distractibility, clanging and rapid speech: The person may find it very difficult to focus and can become excessively hyperactive including the possibility of not needing much sleep. They may stay up to the wee hours of the morning cleaning, painting or engaging in other similar activities. Also, they can jump from subject to subject and be difficult to follow in a conversation. Clanging involves rhyming words in speech.
- Irritability: This excessive energy could be displayed with much anger and aggression during a manic episode or through changing back and forth from joyfulness to intense irritability.
- Impulsiveness: Impulsive examples include going on spending sprees, making rash decisions such as quitting a job suddenly or dropping out of school, or ending a relationship.
- Hypersexuality: These behaviors may include having affairs or multiple sexual partners or fleeting sexual encounters, making unusual or excessive sexual demands on a significant other, viewing pornographic materials and spending money on prostitutes or other porn related activities.
- Drug and alcohol abuse: This behavior can go hand in hand with many of the above mentioned activities such as hypersexuality and impulsive behaviors.
- Grandiosity: An inflated sense of self which can include having powers or abilities and even feeling "God" like.
- Delusions and Hallucinations: A common delusion that may be experienced is that of grandiosity as stated above. Hallucinations include hearing and or seeing things that are not there.
Bipolar mania is a mood state associated with bipolar disorder and is punctuated by intense energy, poor judgment, disruption in sleep, changes in the way one thinks and behaves and possible psychosis. When writing this article, I thought of several episodes of the television series, House, in which he is at a mental health hospital and his roommate is bipolar. This is a pretty good depiction of several aspects of mania. Bipolar disorder is treatable. However, the mania state may be desired by the person with bipolar disorder. Therefore, he or she may be reluctant to seek treatment. The state of depression is what often triggers someone to seek help.
WebMd: Hypomania and Mania Bipolar Disorder, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario MD. Jan. 21, 2010.
WebMd Health News: Bipolar Disorder Misdiagnosed as Depression by Charlene Laino, Reviewed by, Laura J Martin MD; 2010.
WebMd: Types of Bipolar Disorder, Reviewed by Raya Almufti Abraham MD; February 25, 2010.
WebMd: Bipolar I Disorder: What is Bipolar I Disorder? Reviwed by Amal Chakraburtty, MD August 29, 2009.