Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme or long-term mood swings. The mood changes that people have affect every aspect of their lives, from energy and activity levels to thoughts, judgments, behaviors and their ability to sleep. What Are Bipolar Disorders? Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depression. This term covered variations that are now recognized as different types of bipolar disorder. People with a bipolar disorder share common symptoms. The defining symptom of all kinds of bipolar disorder is changes in mood, energy and activity. Periods of high energy and mood are called manic episodes. Periods of low activity, energy and mood are called depressive episodes. Some people have hypomanic episodes, which are a less extreme version of manic episodes. The different kinds of bipolar disorder are classified based on the pattern of your manic and depressive episodes and how severe those episodes are. Bipolar I Disorder This is the \u201cclassic\u201d type of bipolar disorder that most people think of when they hear the term. People with bipolar I have manic episodes that last for at least seven days, or are so severe that they need to be hospitalized or go to a\u00a0mood disorder treatment center. Not everyone with this kind of bipolar disorder has depressive episodes, but most people do have episodes that last two weeks or more. Some people have \u201cmixed\u201d episodes\u2014symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. Bipolar II Disorder People with bipolar II have a pattern of hypomanic and depressive episodes. They don\u2019t have the severe kind of manic episodes that someone with bipolar I experiences. Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) When someone has bipolar disorder symptoms that don\u2019t meet the diagnostic criteria of bipolar I or II, they might be diagnosed with cyclothymia. The main diagnostic criteria for cyclothymia are several periods of hypomania and depression over a period of two years or more. Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders This is a catch-all term for disorders that have bipolar symptoms but don\u2019t meet the criteria for bipolar I, bipolar II or cyclothymia. It may also be diagnosed in someone who has bipolar-like symptoms for other reasons, such as\u00a0substance abuse or addiction. Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder The common medical view is that there\u2019s no single cause of bipolar disorder. Instead, there are several contributing factors that are thought to modify the risk. Genetics probably play a role, as certain genes increase the chance of having bipolar disorder. Therefore, someone is more likely to develop bipolar disorder if a parent or sibling has it. There are other unknown causes of bipolar disorder too. It\u2019s more complicated than just genetics and family history. Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder The defining symptoms of bipolar disorder are episodes of mania and depression. These episodes vary depending on the type of bipolar disorder you have. During a Manic Episode \tStrong feelings of elation \tFeeling full of energy \tHigher activity level \tFeeling jumpy, irritated or agitated \tInsomnia or a decreased need for sleep \tTalking quickly and frequently jumping to different topics \tBeing more impulsive than usual \tHigh-risk behavior, like overspending or reckless sexual encounters During a Depressive Episode \tFeeling sad, empty, hopeless, guilty, ashamed or worried \tHaving no energy or less energy than normal \tLower activity level \tInsomnia or oversleeping \tUnable to enjoy anything, or reduced enjoyment \tTrouble concentrating \tMemory problems \tChanges in eating habits \tThoughts about death or suicide Psychosis Some people have episodes of psychosis. These can occur during severe manic or depressive episodes. Most of the time, the psychosis is a function of the person\u2019s mood. For instance, if someone is in a manic phase, their psychosis might make them believe they\u2019re a celebrity. In a period of depression, they might believe they\u2019re destitute or homeless. Or they might think everyone who knows them hates them. Hypomania A hypomanic episode is like mania, but it\u2019s less extreme. Someone having a hypomanic episode is often upbeat, energetic and productive. They don\u2019t notice that they\u2019re acting or feeling differently. In some people, hypomania is the prelude to a depressive or manic episode. People with bipolar II or cyclothymia have hypomanic episodes but don\u2019t progress to full mania. Treatment for Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Because bipolar disorder has several different elements, people sometimes get misdiagnosed with other\u00a0mental health issues. Getting the right diagnosis is important, so you get the appropriate treatment. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder. Depression One common misdiagnosis is depression. This can happen because people are more likely to seek help when they\u2019re in a period of depression than during a manic episode. This means some people receive a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) when they should have a bipolar diagnosis. Depression is different than bipolar in that someone with depression doesn\u2019t have manic or hypomanic episodes. Borderline Personality Disorder People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are often misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. It\u2019s less common, but still possible, for misdiagnosis to happen the other way around. Misdiagnosis happens relatively often because these disorders share several symptoms: \tMood instability \tIrritability \tImpulsive behavior \tEpisodes of psychosis \tSuicide attempts Even so, there are some important differences. People with BPD have more rapid mood swings, up to several times a day. For people with bipolar disorder, highs and lows are less frequent and last a lot longer, sometimes several months. Another difference is that people with borderline personality disorder tend to think in black and white. This isn\u2019t as common in people with bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia When a person with bipolar disorder experiences psychosis, it can lead to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia because psychosis is common in this illness. People with schizophrenia tend to have more severe, longer episodes of psychosis. They also have more disorganized thought patterns that affect their ability to take care of themselves. Other common symptoms include social withdrawal and a reduced ability to feel or express emotion. Bipolar Disorders Are Treatable Living with bipolar disorder is hard. With therapy and medication, you can manage your symptoms and live the life you want. Call Lucida at\u00a0\u00a0to find out more about your\u00a0bipolar treatment options.