I don’t know about everyone else but I have a hunch this is typical: when first receiving a psychiatric diagnosis I inevitably wanted to know where the names and criteria of these disorders came from. I was led directly to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual; version 4 (also referred to the DSM-4). This is the book that holds the categorization and criteria for diagnosing an inexplicable range of mental illnesses.
Well, the DSM has been under revision lately, and the latest draft of the new version (DSM-5) can be found at the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 Development page. May 2nd through June 15th is the last opportunity for the public to submit comments on the draft (posted on the website), and after that we will be able to watch the final proposals posted to the website (without the ability to comment) until it is published.
Many things have been changed (though some only minutely), but bipolar disorder (as well as borderline personality disorder, and major depressive disorder, to name a few) is something that has had some tweaking done.
Have you checked out the website yet, or the changes made to the criteria for bipolar disorder? Most notably, increased energy/activity has been added to the symptoms of mania/hypomania, which I think is a big step in the right direction. Had this been considered an indicator ten years ago, I am certain my diagnosis would have happened much more quickly.
Bipolar NOS (not otherwise specified) is now NEC (not elsewhere classified) which seems a bit silly to me to keep changing the name when people already have a hard time understanding these sorts of disorders. However, there are a few subcategories of NEC and a couple of “pace-holder” sorts of subcategories which may prove useful to some.
Mixed episodes are now proposed to be categorized by a manic or depressive episode (whichever is the dominant episode) with the label ” with mixed features” tagged onto it. The criteria is much more specific, and I’m not sure if this change is really for better or worse. Personally, I find mixed episodes to be some of the most confusing states I’ve ever experienced, so I don’t know if I believe the new criteria will make them easier to spot or will just exclude mixed sorts of episodes that don’t meet the full criteria for being “mixed features”.
Anyway, this is just a taste of the revision, and since we are approaching the end of the commenting period I’d definitely urge you to take a look at the website, you can find Bipolar and related disorders here, and consider shooting a few comments their way if you feel so inclined!