Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition causing extreme mood swings. From emotional highs (mania or manic period) to emotional lows (depression or depressive episode) with someone rapidly switching between the two. When depressed, they feel sad, hopeless, and lose interest in everyday activities. When manic, they feel euphoric and full of energy while being unusually irritable. These changes can affect sleep, daily activities, judgment, and ability to think clearly and happen rarely or multiple times a year.
There is no known cause for bipolar. Bipolar is a lifelong condition that can be managed by a treatment plan. Bipolar is treated with medication and therapy determined by a medical professional. Only a professional therapist or physician can officially diagnose. Bipolar in children is not generally diagnosed as it usually develops during teen years or adulthood. Growing children may experience symptoms that look like bipolar but actually aren’t. Consult a medical professional if worried.
No two persons will experience bipolar the same. The length of manic and depressive episodes, as well as intensity, will vary. Documenting symptoms allows a doctor to determine if a child exhibits more manic or depressive symptoms.
Children with bipolar disorder can have other problems including substance abuse, ADHD, anxiety, and increased suicidal thoughts.
There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. Each is separate diagnosis and not lesser or milder forms.
Bipolar I disorder: At least one manic episode preceded or followed by a major depressive episode. In some cases, the manic period triggers a break from reality (psychosis).
Bipolar II disorder: At least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode with no manic episode.
Manic episode: Part of bipolar where a person experiences an abnormally happy or irritable mood for at least one week. At the expense of sleeping or eating, they become engaged in significant multiple goal-directed activities at once while finishing none. As wishes are curtailed or denied, they become more irritated. This focus may result in problems at home, work, or school and could require hospitalization.
A person’s change in mood during a mania period can not be self-diagnosis but must be observed by others as being uncharacteristic of the person’s normal behavior.
What are the bipolar symptoms test criteria?
According to the DSM-5 manual, a major depressive episode has least 5 of the following symptoms and must-have #1 or #2 over the same 2-week period.
Almost daily depressed mood lasting most of the day. Can be self-reported or reported by others. In children and teens, a depressed mood can manifest as irritability.
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities nearly every day lasting most of the day.
Significant weight loss or gain, increase or decrease in appetite. May manifest as failure to make expected weight gains.
Insomnia (difficulty or delay in falling asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleep) almost every day.
Agitation: pacing, inability to sit still, pulling on skin/clothing; or, retardation: slowed thinking, speech or body movement; observed by others almost daily.
Fatigue or loss of energy almost daily.
Feelings of worthlessness. Excessive guilt almost daily.
Indecisiveness or diminished ability to think or concentrate almost daily
Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, or a suicide attempt
A period of mania must be marked by at least three of the following symptoms observable by others for 4 days. If only irritable he or she must experience four of the following symptoms. A Hypomanic Episode is very similar to a manic episode, but less intense.
Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity. Uncritical self-confidence, or delusional sense of expertise.
Decreased need for sleep.
Intensified speech that is loud, rapid, difficult to interrupt, focused on sounds/theatrics, angry tirades, or non-stop talking regardless of other’s participation/interest.
Rapid jumping between ideas, racing thoughts.
Distracted by irrelevant/unimportant things.
Increase in goal-directed activities planning.
Excessive involvement in high-risk activities.