What is a bipolar disorder?

Posted on Tue, 3 Feb 2015 in Mental Health
Question: what is a bipolar disorder???? Please go in depth
2. How do they diagnose bipolar?
3. Is depression normally affiliated with bipolar?
Answered by Dr. Shubham Mehta 48 minutes later
Brief Answer:
it is diagnosed on basis of clinical features.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for asking a direct query here.

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder. It is classically explained to have two 'poles' of mood i.e. mania and depression.

MANIA/Hypomania has following features:

Elevated or irritable mood (This feature must be present necessarily and persistently over atleast one week).
Plus any three of the following features:
(1) Increased activity or physical restlessness;
(2) Increased talkativeness and pressured speech;
(3) Subjective experience of thoughts racing;
(4) Loss of normal social inhibitions resulting in behaviour which is inappropriate to the circumstances;
(5) Decreased need for sleep;
(6) Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity;
(7) Distractibility or constant changes in activity or plans;
(8) Reckless behavior and whose risks the subject does not recognize e.g. spending sprees, reckless driving;
(9) Marked sexual energy or sexual indiscretions.

DEPRESSION has following features:

(1) depressed mood present for most of the day and almost every day, largely uninfluenced by circumstances, and sustained for at least 2 weeks.
(2) loss of interest or pleasure in activities that are normally pleasurable;
(3) decreased energy or increased fatiguability, loss of confidence and self-esteem;
(4) excessive and inappropriate guilt;
(5) recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or any suicidal behaviour;
(6) diminished ability to think or concentrate.
(7) psychomotor agitation or retardation (either subjective or objective);
(8) sleep disturbance.
(9) disturbed appetite.

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed on the basis of these clinical criteria laid by WHO (world health organisation). There are no laboratory tests for the diagnosis.

If the individual has either of the following combinations of mood, he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder:
-mania/hypomania+euthymia (normal mood)

If the person has only depressive features, then he is only diagnosed with depression and NOT bipolar disorder.

It is NOT necessary that depression should be present. to diagnose bipolar disorder.

I have tried to include the necessary details in simple language for your easy understanding.

Hope this answers your query satisfactorily.

Feel free to ask further.


Dr. Shubham Mehta, MD (Psychiatry).
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Shubham Mehta 15 minutes later
alright so probably because of suicidal thoughts that are re-occurant and when present last all day and sleep disturbance at night as well as when not suicidal still depressed and only ways it gets better is with celexa or another anti psyche med like buspar or klonopin or remeron those are medications where if I do not have them i can't sleep also I used to play a lot of sports and lost interest because of health like epilepsy and pain all the time.... they kinda expressed that because my mood changes a lot and is rarely ever better without treatment I was ending up involuntarily being put in the hoital for psychiatric evaluation I'm not sure necessarily that would really be classified as bipolar or would it????
Answered by Dr. Shubham Mehta 15 minutes later
Brief Answer:
No, it would not be bipolar disorder.

Detailed Answer:
Hello again.

I can understand your concerns.

In my opinion, that would be classified as pure depression rather than bipolar disorder.
You have had medical illnesses like epilepsy and pain all the time. This can also contribute to depression.

Mood swings can be a part of depression as well. A single feature cannot guide the diagnosis. The person has to be evaluated in totality.

At the same time, I must tell you that 'suicidal ideas' in any person is treated as psychiatric emergency and ideally requires hospitalisation.

Anyhow, i think its unethical to hospitalise anyone without his will. But state-laws may vary.

Hope this helps.

Take care.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Answered by
Dr. Shubham Mehta


Practicing since :2008

Answered : 2004 Questions


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