Bipolar Spectrum Disorders

Bipolar spectrum disorders are mental health conditions marked by extreme vacillations in mood. “Highs” in mood may manifest as mania or hypomania, while “lows” are experienced as depression. When an individual with a bipolar spectrum disorder becomes manic or hypomanic (a less severe version of mania), they may feel energized or euphoric. When their mood shifts to depression, they may lose interest in their daily activities or feel hopeless. An individual experiencing these shifts in mood may meet criteria for one of the following subtypes of bipolar spectrum disorder:

  • Bipolar I is characterized by a minimum of one manic episode (e.g., extreme agitation, impulsivity, grandiosity, lack of sleep, and even psychosis). Manic episodes can be dangerous and may require hospitalization. Mania may be preceded or followed by hypomania or depression.
  • Bipolar II is characterized by a minimum of one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode, but no full-blown manic episodes. Individuals with bipolar II may experience longer periods of depression.
  • Cyclothymia is characterized by a minimum of two years (or one year for children and adolescents) of repeated hypomanic and symptoms and depressive symptoms, with no episodes of full-blown mania or major depression.

Bipolar spectrum disorders can be diagnosed in childhood, though is most commonly diagnosed in adolescence and young adulthood. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, the symptoms can be effectively managed with therapy and medication management.

Bipolar disorder-oriented services at BCSC: