Unspecified or other specified bipolar disorder involves similar mood changes to other types of bipolar disorder. Generally, this means significant, abnormal mood elevations.

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a psychological condition that causes dramatic changes in a person’s mood, ability to think clearly, and energy.

BD typically involves periods of mania or abnormally elevated mood and depression or low mood. Unspecified bipolar disorder is diagnosed when the symptoms do not meet the criteria for other types.

This article defines unspecified bipolar disorder. It also explains the symptoms, causes, and treatment of the condition.

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People with other specified or unspecified BD tend to experience periods where they have an elevated or depressed mood but do not meet the criteria for the other types of BD.

The diagnosis of unspecified BD may also be given while mental health and healthcare professionals observe symptoms, check for substance use, and check for other possible underlying causes of the symptoms.

These symptoms may still impact or cause stress and impairment to a person’s life socially, professionally, or personally. Generally, if a diagnosis of unspecified bipolar disorder is given, the symptoms experienced are not severe enough or do not last long enough for a specific type of BD.

Learn more about bipolar disorder.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) currently recognizes four distinct types of bipolar disorder, including unspecified bipolar disorder.

  • Bipolar I disorder: A person experiences one or more episodes of mania. Most people also experience periods of depression. However, this is not required for diagnosis. Manic episodes with bipolar I disorder must last at least 7 days or be severe enough to require hospitalization.
  • Bipolar II disorder: A person experiences episodes of depression and shifts back and forth with hypomanic episodes. However, symptoms never reach a severity to qualify for full mania.
  • Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia: A person experiences a chronically unstable mood. This typically includes symptoms of both hypomania and depression for at least 2 years, but that do not meet the criteria of full hypomania or depression. Someone with cyclothymia may experience periods of neutral or normal mood. However, these periods do not generally last for more than 8 weeks.

Read more about the types of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of unspecified bipolar disorder are similar to those of the other types. The symptoms, however, do not fully meet the criteria for any of the other three types of BD.

Symptoms of mania

Symptoms of mania include feelings of being:

  • up, high, or elated
  • irritable or touchy
  • jumpy or wired
  • more active than usual

Other symptoms of mania may include:

  • racing thoughts
  • a decreased need for sleep
  • talking fast about different things
  • an excessive appetite for food, sex, or other pleasurable activities
  • feeling able to do many things at once and not get tired
  • feeling unusually powerful, important, or talented

Symptoms of depression

Symptoms of depression include feeling:

  • down, sad, or anxious
  • restless or slowed down
  • unable to do even simple tasks
  • hopeless or worthless

Other symptoms of depression may include:

  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • sleep issues, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking too early, or sleeping too much
  • talking slowly or forgetting things
  • lack of interest in most activities
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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The exact cause of BD is unknown. However, researchers believe it may be due to a combination of factors.

These factors include:

  • Genetics: People with a parent or sibling with BD are more likely to develop it themselves. It is also possible that people with certain genes are more likely to develop the condition than others. However, having family members with BD does not guarantee an individual will develop the condition.
  • Brain structure and function: The brain structure and function of a person with BD may differ from people who do not have BD or other psychological conditions.

Bipolar disorder with mixed features differs from unspecified bipolar disorder. In bipolar disorder with mixed features, a person can experience symptoms of mania during a depressive episode or symptoms of depression during a manic episode.

This means a person experiences three or more symptoms of mania or hypomania during a depressive episode. It can also mean a person experiences three or more depressive symptoms during a manic or hypomanic episode.

Learn more about mixed features bipolar disorder.

To diagnose bipolar disorder, a healthcare professional may perform a physical exam and order lab tests.

While lab tests cannot diagnose bipolar disorder, they can rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. If other conditions are ruled out, they may recommend a referral to a mental health professional.

A mental health professional can diagnose bipolar disorder based on a person’s symptoms.

In order to diagnose bipolar disorder, they have to see that a person has experienced at least one episode of mania or hypomania. They can then diagnose a type based on the pattern of symptoms and how much the most severe episode impaired the individual.

The mental health professional will also typically ask about a person’s history from the individual or their loved ones to help reach a diagnosis.

Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves a combination of medications and psychotherapy.

Medications for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. An antidepressant may also be included to help manage depression symptoms. However, a mood stabilizer must also be taken at the same time, as antidepressants can trigger mania.

Psychotherapy is also known as “talk therapy.” The goal of psychotherapy is to help an individual identify and change troubling thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Psychotherapies that are typically used to treat bipolar disorder include:

  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: This aims to work with and understand a person’s biological and social rhythms.
  • Cognitive behavioral l therapy (CBT): This aims to help an individual recognize their troubling thoughts and reevaluate them. It also helps them gain a better understanding of the behaviors and motivations of others. CBT can also teach problem-solving skills and help an individual gain more confidence in their own abilities.

Learn more about psychotherapy.

Unspecified or other specified bipolar disorder is a type of bipolar disorder where a person’s symptoms do not fully meet the diagnostic criteria of the other types.

A person with unspecified bipolar disorder will typically experience symptoms of mania and even depression. However, these symptoms are not severe enough or do not last long enough to meet a diagnosis for one of the other three types.

If a person is experiencing symptoms of mania or depression, they should speak with a mental health professional.