The “NOS” in “Bipolar Disorder NOS” stands for “Not Otherwise Specified.” This refers to a specific subset of bipolar symptom sets developed by mental health experts over the last several years. Individuals with bipolar disorder NOS do not have symptoms that exactly fit into a previously described category. This can make the disorder more difficult to identify and to treat.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as “manic depression,” is a psychological disorder that causes a person to move between emotional episodes of major depression and mania. Some bipolar individuals frequently move between these extremes, or “poles,” while others spend more time depressed and only experience mania very infrequently.
There are several different points on the bipolar continuum that therapists and doctors use to diagnose bipolar disorder. The following are the major emotional markers on the bipolar scale:
- Mania: Heightened mood, increased energy, irritability, emotional volatility, tendency to engage in risky and impulsive behavior, impulse control challenges
- Hypomania: A lesser state of mania that often involves elevated mood, feelings of self-confidence and optimism and feelings of pleasure
- Depressive Episodes: Emotional numbness, apathy, sleeping too much, eating too much or too little, fatalistic, negative, lonely, unable to engage emotionally with others
- Mixed State: Experiencing symptoms of depression and mania simultaneously or in rapid succession and alternation
- Associated Features: Related symptoms that are affected by but not directly connected with either mania or depression, including reduced cognitive or memory function or attention capacity
Symptoms of bipolar disorder often first appear during the late teen years or in the early twenties.
Several Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are four main categories of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I Disorder: One or more manic episodes are experienced (with or without depression)
- Bipolar II Disorder: No manic episodes but one or more hypomanic episodes and one or more major depression episodes
- Cyclothymia: A history of hypomanic episodes with periods of depression that do not fully qualify as major depressive episodes
- Bipolar disorder NOS (not otherwise specified): A “catch-all” category that describes any depressive disorder that does not meet the above criteria but can be powerful enough to cause great suffering
Bipolar disorder can have many differing manifestations in different individuals, but all individuals with bipolar disorder experience debilitating fluctuations in mood that usually occur in cycles.
Treating Bipolar Disorder NOS
There is no known cure for any form of bipolar disorder but there are treatment techniques that can greatly reduce symptoms and allow the sufferer to live a comfortable and meaningful life. Depending on the intensity of the disorder, these treatment techniques can involve counseling, medication, or a combination of both.