What Is Bipolar 1 Disorder?


Quick Answer

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder is a brain disorder characterized by unusual energy levels, activity levels, mood shifts and possibly an inability to function. Bipolar I disorder is a subtype of bipolar disorder in which the patient has experienced at least one manic or mixed manic-depressive episode that lasts at least seven days. Usually, patients who suffer from bipolar I disorder also experience depressive episodes.

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Full Answer

WebMD states that bipolar I disorder is also known as manic depression or manic-depressive disorder. The primary characteristic distinguishing bipolar I disorder from other subtypes of bipolar disorder such as bipolar II disorder and cyclothymia is the presence of mania. Patients who suffer from other subtypes of bipolar disorder may experience hypomania, a milder form of mania, but never experience the extreme symptoms of mania present in bipolar I patients.

The Mayo Clinic describes mania as a combination of some but not necessarily all of the following symptoms: euphoria, heightened self-esteem, grandiosity, poor judgement, racing thoughts, rapid speech, impulsivity, overspending, hypersexuality, psychosis, aggression, agitation, increased physical activity and decreased need for sleep. Patients with bipolar I disorder may also at times experience hypomania, a less severe manifestation of mania. However, hypomania is not exclusive to bipolar I patients.

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