Domains of the Bipolar Spectrum

Bipolar disorder is, almost without exception, a life-long condition that must be carefully managed. Because there are many manifestations of the illness, it is increasingly being called bipolar spectrum disorder. The spectrum concept refers to subtypes of bipolar disorder that are sub-syndromal and typically misdiagnosed as depression. Nassir Ghaemi, M.D., has also contributed to the development of a bipolar spectrum questionnaire. The full bipolar spectrum includes all states or phases of the bipolar disorders.

Kraepelin's (1921) construct is useful for primary care clinicians, patients and families. It describes variations in two directions (mania and depression) and of three aspects: mood, activity and thinking.