BIPOLAR AND RELATED DISORDERS
Bipolar disorders are chronic or episodic conditions characterised by unusual, extreme and fluctuating changes in mood, energy levels, sleep, concentration and behaviour. Persons with bipolar disorders experience mood episodes, which are unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods. Mood episodes may be manic, hypomanic, depressive or mixed. Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person's usual behaviour. These episodes may arise in the peripartum period, which refers to during pregnancy or the first four weeks following delivery. This should be distinguished from "baby blues", which occurs in many new mothers and may last for a few days after delivery. It is not considered a psychiatric condition.
A large portion of persons with bipolar disorder experience predominantly depressive episodes, which can make it challenging to differentiate bipolar disorders from depressive disorders. This distinction is important to make because treatment approaches of these two groups of conditions are very different. As for most psychiatric conditions, the diagnosis is made on clinical grounds, and there is no laboratory test for bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorders include bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder and unspecified bipolar and related disorders. This is also referred to as the bipolar spectrum.
Bipolar I disorder represents put modern understanding of the classic manic-depressive illness that was described in the nineteenth century.
Bipolar II disorder is no longer regarded as a milder form of the condition because of the difficulties that may be brought about by long periods of depression and associated mood instability that persons with this condition may experience.