A recurrent and sometimes chronic mental illness marked by alternating periods of abnormal mood elevation and depression associated with a change or impairment in functioning.
The long-term course of illness is characterised by a predominance of depression, although a history of at least one manic, hypomanic, or mixed episode is required to make the diagnosis of a bipolar disorder.
Diagnosis is based on interviews with the patient and family, using diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder.
Misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder is common, with unipolar major depressive disorder the most frequent diagnostic error made.
The management of acute mania requires the use of mood stabilisers or atypical antipsychotics, as monotherapy or in combination. There are fewer approved treatment options for acute bipolar depression; traditional antidepressants are not indicated.
Bipolar disorder requires individualising a long-term management plan that includes maintenance medication(s), adjunctive psychosocial therapies, and careful monitoring for any treatment-emergent complications.
Bipolar disorder, previously termed manic depression, is a psychiatric diagnosis characterised by abnormally elevated or irritable mood episode(s) accompanied by disruptive symptoms of distractibility, indiscretions, grandiosity, flight of ideas, hyperactivity, decreased need for sleep, and talkativeness.  Manic episodes include a clustering of these symptoms over at least a period of 1 week, and are more disruptive than hypomanias (milder symptoms, >4 days' duration). It is marked by alternating mood elevation (mania or hypomania) and depression.
Vice-Chair for Clinical Affairs
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
University of Texas Health Science Center
PG has served on the speakers' bureau for Merck and Sunovion.
Dr Prashant Gajwani would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr David J. Muzina, a previous contributor to this monograph. DJM is an author of a number of references cited in this monograph. DJM has previously received honoraria for research support from Repligen Co. He has also previously received honoraria as a speaker and/or advisor from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, BMS, Wyeth, Sepracor, and GSK. DJM is a full-time employee of Medco.
Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit
University Health Network
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology
University of Toronto
RM has received research funds from Stanley Medical Research Institute and National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). RM is on the advisory boards for AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, France Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline Janssen-Ortho, Solvay/Wyeth, Eli Lilly, Organon, Lundbeck, Biovail, Pfizer, Shire, and Schering-Plough. RM is on the speakers' bureau for Janssen-Ortho, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Lundbeck, Biovail, and Wyeth. RM has received research grants from Eli Lilly, Janssen-Ortho, and Shire.
Professor of Psychological Medicine
University of Newcastle
Psychological Treatments Research
Institute of Psychiatry
University Department of Psychiatry
Royal Victoria Infirmary
Newcastle upon Tyne
JS has received remuneration for attending advisory boards for AstraZeneca, BSM-Otsuka, Eli Lilly, GSK, and Sanofi-Aventis.
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