bipolar.about.com - USA
In What Is Bipolar Disorder? ... But Bipolar Disorder is more than mood swings. Some of the more complex features of bipolar disorder include: ...
Complex Features of Bipolar Disorder
from by Marcia Purse
Bipolar Basics: Understanding Manic Depression
In What Is Bipolar Disorder? we gave a basic definition of this illness - looking at the two poles of Bipolar I, mania and depression, and the poles of Bipolar II, hypomania and depression. We explained that manic depression affects not just how a person thinks and reacts but also how that person behaves and feels physically.
But Bipolar Disorder is more than mood swings. Some of the more complex features of bipolar disorder include:
* Mixed episodes - when a person experiences aspects of both depression and mania or hypomania at the same time. Sometimes mania is prominent, sometimes depression. (See also Dysphoria.)
* Rapid cycling - when episodes occur four times or more per year.
o Ultra-rapid cycling - when episodes occur monthly or more frequently.
o Ultradian rapid cycling - cycling more than once a day (also called ultra-ultra-rapid cycling).
Bipolar I can have some very frightening characteristics of psychosis - loss of contact with reality. These may include:
* Hallucinations - hearing or seeing things that are not there
* Delusions - persistent beliefs in things that are not true
* Paranoia - believing that a person or group is actively working to harm you, without any basis in fact.
These psychotic features are also characteristic of schizophrenia, a mental illness where the patient is out of touch with reality, but without mood swings. Bridging the space between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is schizoaffective disorder. What distinguishes schizoaffective disorder from Bipolar I with psychotic features is that sometimes (for at least two weeks) the patient has only psychotic symptoms, without mania or depression.
There are also additional forms of bipolar disorder beyond Bipolar I and II. Unfortunately for patients, the authorities haven't come to an agreement about how many forms there are or which numbers to give those forms. Additional types of bipolar disorder include:
* Cyclothymia - a milder form - what is being called by some Bipolar III
* Depression along with mania or hypomania caused by taking antidepressants - in some circles being called Bipolar IV (and in some - Bipolar III)
And probably the most dangerous aspect of manic depression is the danger of suicide. The suicide rate among people with bipolar disorder has been given as high as 20% - which means a staggering number of bipolar people make unsuccessful and/or repeated attempts on their own lives, and even more than that consider suicide without acting on the urge. Yet people with manic-depressive illness are often highly intelligent, extraordinarily gifted, glowingly talented - people whose brilliance makes the world a better place while they themselves are struggling every day to cope, to function, to stay alive.