Bipolar disorder is like a rollercoaster with it’s ups and downs and twists and turns. It can be heaven, it can be hell. Basically, bipolar patients alternate between different mood episodes (which differs from a mood swing) in short or long periods of time. If there are more than 4 mood episodes a year, this is called rapid cycling. There is also ultradian cycling, which is mood episodes lasting for less than 4 days, but the DSM-5 has changed that to a mixed episode.
So what does this all mean?
Manias: psychological and biological state that can range from mild to severe and debilitating. Mania involves extreme behaviors such a irritability, excessive happiness, over-reaction, difficulty concentrating, rapid and non-stop speech, dangerous behavior, heightened interest in sex, impaired decision-making, spending large sums of money, and grandiose ideas.
Hypomania: state of mind, mood and behavior that may express itself as unusual gaiety, excitement, flamboyance or irritability. In addition, hypomania is accompanied by such behaviors as restlessness, talking nonstop, feeling fresh on only a few hours of sleep, furious focus on a single activity or being much too easily distracted, and/or a variety of other symptoms
Mixed episode: A mixed episode is essentially an episode that simultaneously presents symptoms of both depression and mania. For example, an individual with bipolar disorder (manic depression) may have all the frantic energy of mania, but may also be struggling with the black thoughts of depression. (My input: hell on earth)
Depression: Bipolar depression isn’t just “feeling bad” or “feeling sad”. Even mild depression can impair day to day functioning. Decreased energy, fatigue, diminished activity, insomnia, or hypersomnia (not sleeping enough), loss of interest in pleasurable activities, social withdrawal and sometimes, suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar disorder has a few categories:
Bipolar affective disorder type 1: Bipolar I disorder is also known as bipolar 1 or bipolar type 1. Bipolar I is the most severe form of manic depression; it is characterized by one or more manic episodes, usually accompanied by major depressive episodes. It is classified as a mood disorder.
Bipolar affective disoder type 2: Bipolar 2 is a mental disorder where moods shift between the two extremes of hypomania and depression. As in Bipolar 1, there is a middle ground as well, called euthymia – a symptom-free or “normal” state. Periods of hypomania and depression are called episodes. The mood swings of Bipolar 2 are not necessarily from low to normal to high and back again. Researchers have found that most patients with Bipolar 2 have more depressive episodes than hypomanic.
Bipolar affective disorder NOS (not otherwise specified): There are no specific criteria for a doctor to use when he or she may be considering diagnosing you with bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (NOS).
Bipolar disorder NOS is more of a catch-all category then an actual type of this disorder. Your doctor will use this diagnosis to document that you have symptoms of bipolar disorder, but your symptoms do not meet the requirements for a diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder, bipolar 2 disorder or cyclothymic disorder. If you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder not otherwise specified, you are likely to be re-evaluated for one of the other types of bipolar disorder when you have another episode.
Cyclothymia: Cyclothymia is a form of Bipolar Disorder consisting of periods in which symptoms of hypomania or depression are present but do not constitute a major manic or depressive episode. A differentiating characteristic of this type of BP is that symptoms are never absent for more than two months.