Bipolar Affective Disorder
Bipolar affective disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, has been
identified as a major psychiatric disorder that is characterized by exaggerated mood and behavior
changes, ranging from episodes of high euphoric moods to deep depressions. Persons afflicted
with this disorder typically do not experience mood variability, however their moods are highly
stable at either end of the mood continuum.
The type, severity, and duration of mood disorders vary from person to person. The
mood episodes can last to a few days to as long as several months. Approximately 1 to 2 percent
of the population suffer from this illness, occurring equally in both men and women. The onset
of this disorder is typically displayed around 20 and 29 years of age.
There are two main classifications of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I is diagnosed when a
person has symptoms of manic episodes and has had no depressive episodes in the past.
However, a depressive episode often follows after the first manic episode occurs. Over 90% of
people with Bipolar I experience two or more manic episodes in their lifetime. Bipolar II
patients have a depressed mood followed or preceded by a hypomanic episode, in which they
never have a fully developed manic episode. Some people with bipolar disorder also experience
a “mixed-episode.” People in mixed states alternate their manic and depressive states on a daily
basis for at least a week. Cyclothymic disorder is a persistent, but relatively mild form of bipolar
disorder, which involves fluctuations of mania and depression.
In a bipolar disorder, the manic episode is characterized by an unusually euphoric or
irritable mood. The person generally displays a significant rise in self-esteem, believing that he
or she can do things that they have no talent or training to do. They become extremely sociable,