To earn the Bipolar I label, you must experience at least one bout of mania or a mixed-mood episode sometime during your life. The manic episode must last at least one week, or it must be serious enough to require hospitalization. It also must negatively affect some aspect of your life- your marriage, your career, or your life savings- to some degree. Depression isn´t required, although many people with Bipolar I have experienced a bout or two of major depression at some point in their lives.
To be considered a genuine manic episode, the mania must satisfy the following conditions:
- The mania can´t be drug-induced. For example, if you were taking an antidepressant, steroid, or cocaine, at the time, the manic symptoms don´t equal a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
- Doctors can´t attribute the mania to an identifiable medical condition. If you have a hormone imbalance that may be responsible for the manic symptoms, for example, your doctor can´t make a definite diagnosis of bipolar disorder until you get that condition under control.
- Doctors can´t attribute the mania to schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is a different illness. Its symptoms and treatments can be similar to those of bipolar disorder, but other aspects, such as the type and duration of the psychoses (including delusions or hallucinations), are very different.