Bipolar Disorder

What Is Bipolar Disorder?


Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder listed in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was formerly referred to as manic depression or manic-depressive illness. It can cause extreme mood swings including mania and depression. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder can cause unusual shifts in:

  • Mood
  • Energy
  • Activity levels
  • Concentration, and
  • The ability to carry out daily activities.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is broken down into three different types including Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, and Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia). Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by manic episodes that last at least seven (7) days. Bipolar I Disorder may also include individuals who experience manic episodes that require hospitalization due to their severity. Individuals suffering from Bipolar I Disorder may also experience long periods of depressive episodes.

People who have Bipolar II Disorder may also experience depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes but they are generally less severe than those experienced by individuals with Bipolar I Disorder.

Finally, people with cyclothymic disorder have hypomanic and depressive symptoms “lasting for at least 2 years.” The symptoms, however, are not considered full blown episodes as those experienced by individuals with Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder.

Mental Health Diversion for Individuals With Bipolar Disorder

In recognition of the large number of individuals that suffer from mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, California courts have established a mental health diversion program. In order to be eligible, the individual must have a diagnosable mental health disorder identified in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

As part of mental health diversion, a person must consent to treatment. If you are charged with a crime and have a mental health disorder, it is important to discuss your options with an attorney.