As a privately practicing psychiatrist, Dr. Lester Sandman focuses on anxiety and mood disorders that have resisted prior treatment. Lester Sandman, MD, has treated numerous patients with bipolar disorders.
The term “bipolar disorder” refers to a particular form of mental illness that is characterized by extreme highs and lows of mood. The severity of these moods and the frequency with which they alternate determines a patient’s specific diagnosis.
Bipolar I disorder involves at least one major depressive episode as well as one or more manic or mixed episode. Diagnostic standards define a mixed episode as the presence of both manic and depressive symptoms almost daily for a minimum of one week. Because of the severity of mania present in bipolar I, it stands out as the most severe of the bipolar disorders.
Bipolar II, by contrast, presents as at least one major depressive episode and one or more episodes of hypomania, a less severe form of elevated mood. The hypomania of bipolar II disorder interferes with functioning to a lesser degree than full mania and often evades the patient’s recognition. Upon further consideration, however, the patient may be able to remember periods of abnormally high energy, irritability, or changes in concentration ability.
Patients with less frequent episodes of hypomania and less severe periods of depression may be suffering from cyclothymia, which causes such fluctuations over the course of at least two years. This is a less severe form of bipolar disorder, while rapid-cycling bipolar disorder causes a minimum of four episodes of mania, hypomania, depression, or mixed episodes within a single year. Individuals who experience similar symptoms but whose presentation does not fit within a standard bipolar diagnosis may fall into the category of bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (NOS).