Bipolar Disorder (cont.)

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What are the types of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder has a number of types, including bipolar I and bipolar II disorder. Depending on how rapidly the mood swings occur, the episodes of bipolar disorder can also be classified as having mixed (mood disordered episodes that last less than the usual amount of time required for the diagnosis) features or rapid cycling (four or more mood disordered episodes per year) features. About two-fifths of people with bipolar disorder have at least one period of rapid cycling over the course of their lifetime. For every type and duration of the illness, the sufferer experiences significant problems with his or her functioning at school, at work, or socially, may require hospitalization, or may have psychotic symptoms (for example, delusions or hallucinations). The diagnosis of bipolar I disorder requires that the individual has at least one manic episode but does not require a history of major depression. Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed if the person has experienced at least one episode of major depression and at least one episode of hypomania (a milder form of mania).

Mixed features are defined as meeting full diagnostic criteria for a manic episode while also suffering from at least three symptoms of a depressive episode, or meeting full diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode while also suffering from at least three symptoms of a manic or hypomanic episode. People who suffer from significant, debilitating seasonal mood changes year after year may be classified as having a seasonal pattern to their bipolar disorder.

What are bipolar disorder causes and risk factors?

One frequently asked question about bipolar disorder is if it is hereditary. As with most other mental disorders, bipolar disorder is not directly passed from one generation to another genetically. Rather, it is the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Genetically, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have much in common, in that the two disorders share a number of the same risk genes. However, both illnesses also have some genetic factors that are unique.

Stress has been found to be a significant contributor to the development of most mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder. For example, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are thought to experience increased emotional struggles associated with the multiple social stressors that are linked to coping with societal reactions to their homosexuality or bisexuality.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2014

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