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(4) In addition, many clinicians have difficulty first differentiating between bipolar I and bipolar II.
Since the types of patients, lengths of episodes, and age of onset are very similar, the only diagnostic tool is the difference between mania and hypomania.
(2, 7) This change in mood is observable by others and medications, substance abuse, or another medical condition does not cause the symptoms. A manic episode is a period of an elevated or irritable mood for at least one week.
(2, 7) The symptoms must cause problems in daily functioning and cannot be caused by a medical condition or drugs.
(1, 2) Bipolar disorder is also not an illness that remedies itself over time; people affected with manic depression are manic-depressives for their entire lives.
(2, 3) For this reason, researchers have been struggling to, first, more quickly diagnose the onset of bipolar disorder in a patient and, second, to more effectively treat it.
Since the symptoms are basically the same, except for the understanding that mania is one step more severe than hypomania, many clinicians fluctuate between the two subsets before diagnosing the patient.
(4) Studies are still being conducted to more accurately and quickly distinguish bipolar I patients from bipolar II patients.
Researchers are still questioning the cause of manic depression.
The most popular theory is that the disorder is caused by an imbalance of norepinephrine and serotonin.