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Bipolar Episodes With Mixed Features

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What Are Mixed Episodes in Bipolar Disorder?

Mixed features refers to the presence of high and low symptoms occurring at the same time, or as part of a single episode, in people experiencing an episode of mania or depression. In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. A person with mixed features experiences symptoms of both mood "poles" -- mania and depression -- simultaneously or in rapid sequence. 

Who Gets Mixed Bipolar Episodes?

Virtually anyone can develop bipolar disorder. About 2.5% of the U.S. population has some form of bipolar disorder – nearly 6 million people.

Mixed episodes are common in people with bipolar disorder -- half or more of people with bipolar disorder have at least some mania symptoms during a full episode of depression. Those who develop bipolar disorder at a younger age, particularly in adolescence, may be more likely to have mixed episodes. People who develop episodes with mixed features  may also develop "pure" depressed or "pure" manic or hypomanic phases of bipolar illness.  People who have episodes of major depression but not full episodes of mania or hypomania also can sometimes have low-grade mania symptoms. These are symptoms that are not severe or extensive enough to be classified as bipolar disorder. This is referred to as an episode of "mixed depression" or a unipolar (major) depressive episode with mixed features.

Most people are in their teens or early 20s when symptoms from bipolar disorder first start. It is rare for bipolar disorder to develop for the first time after age 50. People who have an immediate family member with bipolar are at higher risk.

What Are the Symptoms of a Mixed Features Episode?

Mixed episodes are defined by symptoms of mania and depression that occur at the same time or in rapid sequence without recovery in between..

  • Mania with mixed features usually involves irritability, high energy, racing thoughts and speech, and overactivity or agitation.
  • Depression during episodes with  mixed features  involves the same symptoms as in  "regular" depression, with feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, low energy, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide.
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