Bipolar I, sometimes referred to as classic bipolar, involves the presence of at least one manic or mixed episode and at least one episode of sustained depression. When a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other qualified professional makes the diagnosis of bipolar I using the DSM-IV-TR, they will go on to specify:
• Is this a single episode or have there been multiple occurrences?
• What is the current mood state (manic, hypomanic, mixed, or depressed)?
• How severe are the symptoms (mild, moderate, or severe)
• Are psychotic symptoms present (hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thought processes)?
In bipolar I, the frequency and pattern with which any person will cycle from depression to a normal mood to mania to a mixed episode or to a hypomania is highly variable. Some individuals may experience years, even decades, between episodes of a major mood disorder. For others, a mania can end with a crushing depression, which if left untreated may drag on for six months, a year, or longer.