Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by mood swings, from mania to depression. The frequency of mood swings can range from a few times a year to a few times a day. Sometimes it can cause depression and mania at the same time. It involves unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out usual everyday tasks. This disorder used to be known as manic depressive disorder. It can lead to risky behavior and suicidal tendencies if left untreated. Although a serious illness it can be kept in check through the use of medications and psychotherapy.

There are three different types of Bipolar Disorder:
  1. Bipolar I: this is the most extreme type of mania
  2. Bipolar II: this includes hypomania and severe depression
  3. Cyclothymia: this includes hypomania, mild depression and it cycles up and down.

When you have Bipolar I you have at least one episode or mania and this disorder alternates with Major Depressive Disorder. When you have Bipolar II, you experience at least one major depressive episode with at least one episode of hypomania simultaneously. When you have Cyclothymic disorder, Cyclothymia, you have a milder, chronic form of bipolar disorder. This type usually lasts at least 2 years in adults and 1 year in children or adolescents. It occurs when there are numerous periods of hypomanic AND depressive symptoms but it does not meet the criteria for mania or major depressive disorder.
Bipolar disorder is common and accounts for 1 to 2 percent of individuals


Mania is a state of intense elation or irritability.
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
  • Rapid speaking and unusual sense of talkativeness
  • Thought of racing thoughts through the brain and flight of ideas
  • Decreased need for sleep and sleep agitation
  • Beliefs that one has special talents/abilities/powers
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Very easily distracted
  • Getting involved in situations that likely have undesirable consequences such as increase in sexual behavior, reckless driving, and intense spending of money.

Application to HIT

PRIORI : a smartphone app that can monitor subtle qualities of a person’s voice during everyday phone conversations which show promising signs of detecting early signs of mood changes in people with bipolar disorder (Alba 2014). Applicable for Android devices. Priori is constantly running on the smartphone by using the microphone as it simultaneously analyzes the patients’ voice. Priori hopes to advance enough so the app can warn the patient as well as the doctor when there is an impending episode. This discreet recording of social and physical behavior can lead to detecting changes in a patient’s well-being and can possibly hold interventions when and where it is needed, which allows the patient to become aware of their illness which can lead to facing disorder first hand.

MONARCA: Application for Android smartphones that stands for MONitoring, treAtment, and pRediCtion of bipolAr disorder episodes. This app monitors subjective (mood/irritability, sleep and alcohol) and objective activities of the patient and their disorder along with possible treatment responses. Although there needs to be more research done on the product, MONARCA shows promising effects in preventing mood symptoms and improving psychosocial functioning.

Using electronic devices to self-monitor a mental illness can lead to increased patient empowerment and allows them to feel comfortable tracking their symptoms without having to wear any other type of device. Health IT is growing rapidly and the implementation of mobile health apps will be seen to assist in treatment and assessment of a range of medical problems, not just Bi Polar Disorder.

Related Terms
  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Mania
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mental disorder
  • Hypomania
  • Comorbidity (simultaneous prevalence of 2 chronic diseases or conditions in a patient)

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