Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes changes in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. People with bipolar disorder experience intense emotional states that typically occur during distinct periods of days to weeks, called mood episodes. These mood episodes are categorized as manic/hypomanic (abnormally happy or irritable mood) or depressive (sad mood). People with bipolar disorder generally have periods of neutral mood as well. When treated, people with bipolar disorder can lead full and productive lives.
People without bipolar disorder experience mood fluctuations as well. However, these mood changes typically last hours rather than days. Also, these changes are not usually accompanied by the extreme degree of behavior change or difficulty with daily routines and social interactions that people with bipolar disorder demonstrate during mood episodes. Bipolar disorder can disrupt a person’s relationships with loved ones and cause difficulty in working or going to school.
Bipolar disorder is a category that includes three different diagnoses: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.
Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences a manic episode. During a manic episode, people with bipolar I disorder experience an extreme increase in energy and may feel on top of the world or uncomfortably irritable in mood. Some people with bipolar I disorder also experience depressive or hypomanic episodes, and most people with bipolar I disorder also have periods of neutral mood.
Bipolar II Disorder
A diagnosis of bipolar II disorder requires someone to have at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode. People return to their usual functioning between episodes. People with bipolar II disorder often first seek treatment as a result of their first depressive episode, since hypomanic episodes often feel pleasurable and can even increase performance at work or school.
People with bipolar II disorder frequently have other mental illnesses such as an anxiety disorder or substance use disorder, the latter of which can exacerbate symptoms of depression or hypomania.
Cyclothymic disorder is a milder form of bipolar disorder involving many "mood swings," with hypomania and depressive symptoms that occur frequently. People with cyclothymia experience emotional ups and downs but with less severe symptoms than bipolar I or II disorder.
Information provided by Psychiatry.org at https://www.psychiatry.org/pat...