What Are the DSM Criteria for Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a very serious psychological condition, previously known as manic depression, which has a unique set of symptoms and treatment options. People with bipolar disorder tend to be at risk for other co-occurring conditions, such as substance abuse, addiction and compulsive behaviors. While the term is frequently used to describe mood swings, an actual diagnosis of bipolar disorder—as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)—requires specific criteria.

Manic Episodes of Bipolar Disorder

According to the DSM, for someone to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder she must have experienced at least one manic episode with symptoms lasting for at least a week. Symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder include the following examples:

  • Noticeably heightened moods
  • Irritability
  • Megalomania, grandiosity or self-absorption
  • A tendency to engage in high risk activities (sexual, business, athletic and etc.)
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Inability to focus attention

While mental health professionals only provide a diagnosis if patients exude at least three of these symptoms, this changes if any of the symptoms are so pronounced that hospitalization is necessary.

Depressive Episodes of Bipolar Disorder

On the other end of the spectrum is major depression. Most people with bipolar disorder spend more time in a depressed state than a manic one. A diagnosis of depression requires at least three of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sadness and crying
  • Emotional numbness
  • Excessive need for sleep
  • Apathy
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Substance abuse

Depression can last for months or even years, so seek help to overcome this issue.

Other Issues of Bipolar Disorder

A third condition related to bipolar disorder is called hypomania. During times of hypomania, patients may feel quite good, strong and optimistic for a few days. Hypomanic individuals tend to be in the midst of a swing to either extreme. Sufferers report feeling so good that they wish they could stay in that mental state permanently. Hypomanic people tend to believe that their treatment is no longer necessary, so they drop out.

Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder

Self-diagnosing bipolar disorder doesn’t work. While there is not yet a cure for bipolar disorder, many treatment techniques can drastically decrease symptoms. Our counselors will help you find the best treatment available, so call them now.