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Andrew 03-07-03 09:52 AM

Everything you need to know about Bipolar
Our stickies have been condensed into one helpful thread. Feel free to start your own thread if you have anymore questions:

Warning Signs of Bipolar
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Symptoms
Bipolar II, Cyclothmia, & Helpful Links
What is an "Episode"?

Warning Signs of Bipolar:
An excellent description of the "Red Flags" of Bipolar Disorder can be found at "These four articles list the symptoms and signs of manic and depressive episodes, danger signals that a person may be thinking about suicide, and the symptoms of childhood bipolar disorder, which is not entirely the same as adult manic depression."

Red Flags I
A look at the early warning signs of Bipolar Disorder - symptoms of mania.

Red Flags II
A look at the early warning signs of Bipolar Disorder - signs of depression.

Red Flags III
A look at the early warning signs that may indicate the danger of suicide.

Red Flags IV
A list of signs and symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in children.

Andi 01-14-06 09:21 AM

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

from Kimberly Bailey
We have all asked this question at some time. I've heard explanations ranging from a shortage of Lithium in the brain to dog bites in childhood! Obviously, there is a great deal of misinformation to be had.

To compound the confusion, legitimate scientific research continues to publish new information and hypotheses. A newly published study in the American Journal of Psychiatry reports "in those with bipolar disorder, two major areas of the brain contain 30 percent more cells that send signals to other brain cells." This report theorizes that "the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of overstimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder(1)."

But has anyone found the true cause of bipolar disorder? It would be wonderful to say that X or Y was the cause, but the answer is not that simple. According to Durand and Barlow, most scientists believe that "psychological disorders are always the products of multiple interacting causal factors"(2). As it relates to bipolar disorder, these causal factors are usually divided into biological and psychological explanations. In plain English, psychopathology is the study of significant causes and processes in the development of mental illness, which means there are physical and mental / environmental / emotional causes for mental illnesses.

In considering the biological explanations, the first issue is inheritability. This question has been researched via multiple family, adoption and twin studies. In families of persons with bipolar disorder, first-degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) are more likely to have a mood disorder than the relatives of those who do not have bipolar disorder(3). Twin studies indicate that "if one twin presents with a mood disorder, an identical twin is approximately three times more likely than a fraternal twin to have a mood disorder(2)." In considering bipolar disorder specifically, the concordance rate (when both twins have the disorder) is 80% for identical twins, as compared to only 16% for fraternal twins(2). "Overwhelming evidence suggests that such disorders are familial and almost certainly reflect an underlying genetic vulnerability(2)."

However, exactly what is inherited? The neurotransmitter system has received a great deal of attention as a possible cause of bipolar disorder. Researchers have known for decades that a link exists between neurotransmitters and mood disorders, because drugs which alter these transmitters also relieve mood disorders(4). Some studies hypothesize that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause. Others indicate that an imbalance of these substances is the problem - i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters(2). Still other studies have found evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the issue(4). In short, researchers are quite certain that the neurotransmitter system is at least part of the cause of bipolar disorder, but further research is still needed to define its exact role.

The primary psychological culprit implicated in the manifestation of bipolar disorder is stressful life events. These can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job, from the birth of a child to a move. It can be pretty much anything, but it cannot be precisely defined, since one person's stress may be another person's piece of cake. With that in mind, research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. However, once the disorder is triggered and progresses, "it seems to develop a life of its own. Once the cycle begins, a psychological or pathophysiological process takes over and ensures that the disorder will continue(2)."

When we look for the cause of bipolar disorder, the best explanation via the research available at this time is what is termed the "Diathesis-Stress Model." The word diathesis means, in simplified terms, a bodily condition that make a person more than usually susceptible to certain diseases. Thus the Diathesis-Stress Model says that "each person inherits certain physical predispositions that leave him or her vulnerable to problems that may or may not appear, depending on what kinds of situations that person confronts(4)." Durand and Barlow define this model as a "hypothesis that both an inherited tendency and specific stressful conditions are required to produce a disorder(2)."

So the bottom line, according to today's thinking, is that if you are manic depressive, you were born with the possibility of developing this disorder, and something in your life set it off. But scientists could refine that theory tomorrow. The one sure thing is, they won't give up looking for answers.

Andrew 09-16-06 09:44 PM

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
Bipolar disorder (also known as "manic depression") is often not recognized by the patient, relatives, friends, or even physicians. An early sign of manic-depressive illness may be hypomania -- a state in which the person shows a high level of energy, excessive moodiness or irritability, and impulsive or reckless behavior. Hypomania may feel good to the person who experiences it. Thus, even when family and friends learn to recognize the mood swings, the individual often will deny that anything is wrong.

In its early stages, bipolar disorder may masquerade as a problem other than mental illness. For example, it may first appear as alcohol or drug abuse, or poor school or work performance.

If left untreated, bipolar disorder tends to worsen, and the person experiences episodes of full-fledged manic episodes and depressive episodes.

One of the usual differential diagnoses for bipolar disorder is that the symptoms (listed below) are not better accounted for by Schizoaffective Disorder and is not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

And as with nearly all mental disorder diagnoses, the symptoms of manic depression must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Symptoms also can not be the result of substance use or abuse (e.g., alcohol, drugs, medications) or caused by a general medical condition.

Specific symptoms of the various types of bipolar disorder:

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder actually is a number of separate diagnoses, depending upon the type of mood most recently experienced.

Bipolar I Disorder, Single Manic Episode

* Presence of only one Manic Episode and no past Major Depressive Episodes.
Note: Recurrence is defined as either a change in polarity from depression or an interval of at least 2 months without manic symptoms.

Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Hypomanic

* Currently (or most recently) in a Hypomanic Episode.
* There has previously been at least one Manic Episode or Mixed Episode.

Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Manic

* Currently (or most recently) in a Manic Episode.
* There has previously been at least one Major Depressive Episode, Manic Episode, or Mixed Episode.

Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Mixed

* Currently (or most recently) in a Mixed Episode.
* There has previously been at least one Major Depressive Episode, Manic Episode, or Mixed Episode.

Bipolar II Disorder

* Presence (or history) of one or more Major Depressive Episodes and at least one Hypomanic Episode. Additionally, there has never been a Manic Episode or a Mixed Episode.

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH Publication No. 95-3679 (1995)


EYEFORGOT 03-31-07 10:13 AM

More About Bipolar, Cyclothmia, & Links
Bipolar II Disorder

The distinguishing characteristic of Bipolar II Disorder (manic depression) is the hypomanic episode (as opposed to the manic episodes of Bipolar I Disorder). Major depressive episodes are also part of this type of bipolar disorder.

What is Bipolar II Disorder?
According to the official US definition as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, Bipolar II Disorder is "characterized by one or more Major Depressive Episodes accompanied by at least one Hypomanic Episode." The key difference between Bipolar I and Bipolar II is that Bipolar II has hypomanic but not manic episodes.

Bipolar II: Mood Swings Without "Manic" Episodes
Psychiatrist James Phelps offers information on Bipolar II, Mixed States, Cyclothymia, "anxious depression" and more. Some of his descriptions extend the definitions in DSM-IV, but many experts feel that DSM-IV is too limited.


Cyclothymia is a form of Bipolar Disorder consisting of periods in which symptoms of hypomania or depression are present but do not constitute a major manic or depressive episode. A differentiating characteristic of this type of BP is that symptoms are never absent for more than two months.

According to the official US definition as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, Cyclothymic Disorder - also called Cyclothymia - is "a chronic, fluctuating mood disturbance involving numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and numerous periods of depressive symptoms."

Cyclothymia Defined
A concise definition from The Bipolar Disorder Glossary.

Cyclothymia - An Overview from the MayoClinic
Cyclothymia, or cyclothymic disorder, is a chronic mood disorder that results in short periods of mild emotional and behavioral "highs" alternating with short periods of mild to moderate depression. People with cyclothymia also experience intermittent periods of emotional and behavioral stability.

Cyclothymia - An Overview from McMan's Depression & Bipolar Web
John McManamy notes that while descriptions portray cyclothymia as a mild disorder, it is so only relative to the severity of Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorders. Cyclothymia can completely disrupt the life of an individual and create personal chaos. In their continual oscillation of mood, they never know from one day to the next what to expect.

Cyclothymic Disorder
This site offers a compilation of information on this disorder, including both American and European descriptions, from Internet Mental Health.

Here are some further sites, that can offer further info on the differences,symptoms, etc.

***This informations is found from a weekly BPD newletter I get****
(Thank you justhope for your research)

Here is the link to research yourselves.

Here is the site for people who want to look up support groups in their area:
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Credit for this link goes to Spongedaddy.

Each year, DBSA reaches over four million people! In addition, billions of people each year hear our messages through the media that depression and bipolar disorder are real, treatable illnesses; that there is help and hope; and that no one with these illnesses needs to feel alone.

No matter how people find support from DBSA---whether it’s through our 1,000+ peer-led support groups, through our interactive website, through the million+ brochures we distribute each year, or through our outreach and training programs---we are proud that our message of hope, help and recovery is being heard. And that our mission, to improve the lives of people living with mood disorders, is being fulfilled.

livinginchaos 04-27-07 11:23 PM

Bipolar Episode info
Q. What is an Episode?

From Kimberly Read & Marcia Purse,
Your Guide to
Bipolar Disorder.

A. Dictionary definitions of episode abound, but the nearest lay definition that fits a bipolar episode is "an incident or event that is part of a larger sequence." The larger sequence, of course, is the ongoing flow between the highs and lows of manic depression.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) has strict durations for each type of episode that may occur in bipolar disorder:

A manic episode must last at least one week unless hospitalization is necessary - then the episode may be shorter and still be classed as manic.

A hypomanic episode must last at least four days.

A major depressive episode must last at least two weeks.

A mixed episode must last at least one week with symptoms present "nearly every day."

Within each of these time periods, a given number of certain diagnostic symptoms must appear.

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For example:

In a manic episode, there must be a sustained and abnormally elevated, expansive or irritable mood throughout the period.

In a hypomanic episode, there must be a sustained and elevated, expansive or irritable mood throughout the period - but the word "abnormally" is omitted from the description.

In a major depressive episode, at least one of the symptoms must be depressed mood or loss of pleasure or interest.

In a mixed episode, the criteria for both a major depressive episode and a manic episode must be met.

Thus, in terms of bipolar disorder, an episode is a distinct period of time when specific symptoms are present that, taken together, classify a person's mood as manic, hypomanic, depressive, or mixed.


Online Psychological Services (2003). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. "Bipolar I Disorder." Retrieved September 29, 2006 from

episode. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved September 29, 2006, from website:

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