What is Bipolar I Disorder?

Bipolar I Disorder is also known as Bipolar 1 or Bipolar Type 1. According to the definition outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), Bipolar I Disorder, considered the most severe form of this mental illness, is “characterized by one or more Manic or Mixed Episodes, usually accompanied by Major Depressive Episodes.”

In a major manic episode of Bipolar I Disorder the patient may become delusional and even suffer from hallucinations, which are symptoms of psychosis. If this occurs, the condition is called bipolar I with psychotic features. Only bipolar I disorder, by definition, can include such psychotic features. Bipolar I can seriously impair day-to-day functioning.

Other symptoms and characteristics of mania include:

    * Grandiosity

    * Decreased need for sleep

    * Pressured speech

    * Racing thoughts

    * Distractibility

    * Tendency to engage in behavior that could have serious consequences, such as spending recklessly or inappropriate sexual encounters

    * Excess energy

Symptoms and characteristics of major depression in Bipolar I Disorder include:

    * Decreased energy

    * Severe withdrawal from normal activities

    * Weight loss or gain

    * Despair

    * Irritability

    * Uncontrollable crying

    * Thoughts of or attempts at suicide

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