Bipolar Disorder (Mania)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideBipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Testing for Bipolar Depression

Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Testing for Bipolar Depression

What is the history of bipolar disorder?

This disease was formally conceptualized by Emil Kraeplin more than 100 years ago, at which time he described it as manic-depressive insanity. However, mood problems that include depression alternating with symptoms that are now understood to be manic have been referenced in history as long ago as 200 A.D. At that time, this condition, like unipolar depression, was thought to be the result of bad blood, called black bile. In the 19th century, this illness was referred to by terms like biphasic illness, circular insanity, and dual-form insanity. Despite such negative terminology for this disease, bipolar disorder is also known to be associated with significant achievement in some individuals. Many historical figures and currently successful people suffer from this disorder, whose creativity and accomplishments can therefore be an inspiration for current sufferers of the disorder.

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 described 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, socially or otherwise in their community, may need 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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2017

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