Ancient Greek philosopher and physician, Hippocrates, was the first scientist to systematically categorize depression (at the time called “melancholia”) and mania as mental conditions. These two states would be seen as unrelated until the mid 19th century, when French psychiatrist, Jean-Pierre Falret, published his observations of individuals who suffered from cycles of mania and depression (Mason, Brown, & Croarkin, 2016). Today, we refer to this condition as bipolar disorder.
Individuals with bipolar disorder fluctuate between neurologically excited, manic states and neurologically depressed melancholic states (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Before diving any deeper, I believe it would be prudent to explain the different forms of mania. Hypermania refers to a period lasting a week or longer where an individual experiences manic symptoms such as impulsivity, racing thoughts, delusions of grandeur, agitation, and high risk behaviors. Hypomania refers to a period lasting 4 days or longer where an individual experiences less severe manic symptoms such as artistic inspiration, motivation, decreased sleep, and distractibility (Dailey & Abdolreza, 2021; Philips & Kupfer, 2013).
Bipolar disorder can be subdivided into 3 separate categories based on the severity of manic and depressive symptoms:
- Cyclothymia: This condition includes cycles of hypomania that cycles with low-level depression (not severe enough to be called a depressive episode), lasting for 2 or more years.
- Bipolar II: This condition includes cycles of hypomania with more severe depression. Here, depression is the most impairing feature.
- Bipolar I: This condition includes cycles of hypermania and depressive episodes. Here, mania is the most impairing feature.
(Philips & Kupfer, 2013).
Bipolar disorder is most commonly treated using a class of drugs called mood stabilizers, which are designed to balance out the highs and lows of the condition, in combination with psychotherapy (NAMI, 2019; Schloesser et al., 2012).