Bipolar Depression or Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic Depression)

All depression is tragic, but by far one of the worse is bipolar disorder,. The essential feature of bipolar disorder is the presence of one or more Manic or Hypomanic episodes (the highs), usually with a history of major depressive episodes.

During the “highs” the person may not recognize that he or she is ill and resists all efforts to be treated. Moods can rapidly shift to anger or depression. Occasionally the depressive and manic symptoms can occur simultaneously or may alternate rapidly within a few days.

During this high period the person may have spent a lot of money, accumulated materials and involved a lot of people with promises only to crash and burn.

The crash and burn then becomes the depressive (the lows) phase of the illness. During this phase the person can be totally inactive, perhaps lying down watching TV all day. The person may not be very communicative and can display motor retardation the same as those suffering major depression. At worse the person can become suicidal.

The symptoms listed are presented here for educational purposes only and are not intended for self-diagnosis.

Symptoms for Manic Episode and Hypomania (“the highs”):

A “Manic Syndrome” is defined as including criteria A, B, and C below. A “Hypomanic Syndrome” is defined as including criteria A and B only, not C, i.e. there is no marked impairment.

A. A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood.

B. During the period of mood disturbance, at least three of the following symptoms have persisted and have been present too a significant degree. Four symptoms if the symptom is only irritable.

  1. inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  2. decreased need for sleep, e.g. feels rested after only three hours of sleep
  3. more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  4. flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  5. distractibility, i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli
  6. increase in goal directed activity (either socially, or at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
  7. excessive involvement in pleasurable activities which have high potential for painful consequences, e.g., the person engages in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments

C. Mood impairment sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in occupational functioning or in usual social activities or relationships with others, or to necessicate hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others.

D. At no time during the disturbance have there been delusions or hallucinations for as long as two weeks in the absence of prominent mood symptoms (i.e., before the mood symptoms developed or after they have remitted).

E. Not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified).

F. It cannot be established that an organic factor initiated and maintained the disturbance. Note: Somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., drugs, ECT) that apparently precipitates a mood disturbance should not be considered an etiological organic factor.

Furthermore the criteria can be rated as Mild, Moderate, Severe without Psychotic Features, With Psychotic Features, In Partial Remission, In Full Remission or Unspecified.

See Major Depression for Symptoms of Depressive Episodes (“the lows”):

Many famous people suffered manic depression during their life. These include: Sophie Anderton, Adam Ant, Russell Brand, Lord Byron, Jim Carrey, Dick Cavett, Richard Dreyfuss, Patty Duke, Carry Fisher, Connie Francis, Mel Gibson, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Hendrix, Abbie Hoffman, Margot Kidder, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Edward Munch, Friedrich Nietzsche, Florence Nightingale, Kim Novak, Sinead O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Jackson Pollock, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Britney Speers, Dusty Springfield, Margaret Trudeau, Jean Claude Van Damme, Vincent Van Goh, Robin Williams.