Mood disorders are any psychological disorders that are marked by a major change in a person's mood or emotions. The person, in other words, either feels very good or very bad about themselves. Mood disorders are a bit different from thought disorders or psychotic disorders, for instance.
Now, both of these--either feeling very low or very high--can affect a person's thoughts and behaviors as a result of their moods.
EXAMPLEFor example, when a person is depressed, this can lead to certain periods of inactivity where the person isn't doing much, and also possibly suicidal feelings. Mania, on the other hand, can lead to an increased amount of activity or energy; in extreme levels, it can actually lead to psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusions. Therefore, a person that is very manic might feel invincible, so they might attempt to do very dangerous things.
People with bipolar disorders move between the two extremes in different cycles. These cycles generally occur less than once a year, for three to six months in length. Many times when we think of a person who is bipolar, we think of somebody who quickly switches between moods, but this isn't actually the case with most people with bipolar disorder.
Now, outside of this normal cycling of once a year or less than once a year, a person can also be rapid cycling, meaning the cycles can occur four or more times a year. They can also have different changes in mood that occur a bit more frequently than three to six months in length.
A person can even be ultra-rapid cycling, which is to say that changes occur over the course of a few days, or at the very extreme, a person could be ultradian, meaning they experience severe mood changes within a day itself. However, this is much more uncommon.
There are several different types of bipolar disorder. We will discuss them in order of severity, but take this ordering with a grain of salt, because while some might display more severe or extreme symptoms, all three of these are serious enough to cause harm in a person's life. Therefore, all three of them should be considered to be important.
Generally, though, it's not just one episode of mania. Usually, it occurs multiple times over a person's life. It also has to occur in the absence of anything that might cause it, such as drugs or medication. There shouldn't be any biological component that is specifically causing an episode from outside of the body.
Now, this may seem like a simplistic guideline, but bipolar I disorder is an extremely severe form of bipolar disorder. It can impair a person's life to a significant degree, because remember, mania involves a significant loss of control, where someone can even go so far as to experience hallucinations or delusions.
Depressive episodes are not needed to be diagnosed with bipolar I. However, many people do experience depression along with their mania; it's simply not one of the criteria for this particular diagnosis.
In addition, a person with hypomania will often display strong pleasure-seeking behaviors, especially sexual pleasure-seeking behaviors. You can see how this could be severe and have real consequences on a person's life.
A person suffering from bipolar II disorder might initially evade detection because their behavior is seen as being exaggerated or flamboyant, so the person might simply seem to very exciting and a bit strange. However, it's important to note that just because this person seems like an extreme or strange or eccentric type of person, this disorder can seriously impair their social lives, as well as their personal lives. It can place the person into situations that are physically dangerous as well. Therefore it is important to note these things and to help a person that's experiencing hypomania to seek treatment.
However, this can still lead to very serious issues for that person. Symptoms are not always mild, and it can often lead to cycles of being very excited or very depressed which can lead to dangerous behaviors again.
Bipolar disorder in general, including all three types, can be treated with drugs like lithium for manic episodes, or antidepressants for depressive episodes. In addition, psychotherapy can be utilized to help a person cope with the mood episodes that they might be experiencing, to help them better understand and recognize them, so they can better cope with them on a personal level. Generally, it's best to combine both drugs and psychotherapy to receive the most effective therapy.
Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR ERICK TAGGART.