What is bipolar affective disorder?
Bipolar affective disorder (originally called manic-depressive illness), is a mental disorder characterized by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. In this condition you have periods where your mood (affect) is in one extreme or another.
- One extreme is called depression, where you feel low and have other symptoms.
- The other extreme is called mania (or hypomania if symptoms are less severe), where you feel high or elated along with other symptoms.
What are the signs & symptoms of bipolar affective disorder?
Mania is a distinct period of at least one week of elevated or irritable mood. It can take the form of euphoria and exhibit three or more of the following behaviors (four if irritable) —
- Speak in a rapid and uninterruptible manner
- Can be easily distracted
- Have racing thoughts
- Display an increase in goal-oriented activities or feel agitated
- Exhibit behaviors characterized as impulsive or high-risk such as hyper sexuality or excessive money spending.
Hypomania is a milder form of mania defined as at least four days of the same symptoms as mania.
But hypomania does not cause a significant decrease in the individual’s ability to socialize or work. It lacks psychotic features (i.e. delusions or hallucinations) & does not require psychiatric hospitalization.
Overall functioning may actually increase during episodes of hypomania & is thought to serve as a defense mechanism against depression. Depressive phase of bipolar disorder shows —
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Chronic pain (with or without a known cause)
- Isolation or hopelessness
- Disturbances in sleep & appetite
- Problems concentrating
- Apathy or indifference
- Loss of interest in sexual activity
- Shyness or social anxiety
- Fatigue & loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities
- Lack of motivation
- Morbid suicidal thoughts
A mixed state is a condition during which symptoms of both mania and depression occur at the same time.
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