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Some doctors believe these conditions are actually separate disorders with different biologic factors that account for their differences. Bipolar disorder I is characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode (symptoms of both mania and depression occurring simultaneously), and one or more depressive episodes, that lasts for at least 7 days.
In most cases, manic episodes precede or follow depressive episodes in a regular pattern.
Multiple genes, involving several chromosomes, have been linked to the development of bipolar disorder.
Research increasingly indicates that bipolar disorder may also share genetic factors with other disorders, including schizophrenia, epilepsy, and anxiety disorders.
Hypomania is similar to mania, but the symptoms (typically euphoria) are less severe and do not last as long.
Patients with bipolar disorder do not experience manic or mixed episodes, and most return to fully functional levels between episodes.
It is not clear if some of these disorders are variations of a single disease or separate disorders.
The disorder lasts at least 2 years, with single episodes persisting for more than 2 months.Bipolar disorder affects both sexes equally, but there is a higher incidence of rapid cycling, mixed states, and cyclothymia in women.Early-onset bipolar disorder tends to occur more frequently in men and it is associated with a more severe condition.Although drug and alcohol abuse may be a form of self-medication, substance abuse can trigger or worsen bipolar symptoms.Cigarette smoking is also very common among patients with mental illness, including bipolar disorder, due in part to nicotine’s effects on the brain.