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Mania is a distinct period of at least one week of elevated or irritable mood, which can range from euphoria to delirium, and those experiencing hypo- or mania may exhibit three or more of the following behaviors: speak in a rapid, uninterruptible manner, short attention span, racing thoughts, increased goal-oriented activities, agitation, or they may exhibit behaviors characterized as impulsive or high-risk, such as hypersexuality or excessive spending.

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be complicated by coexisting (comorbid) psychiatric conditions including the following: obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, social phobia, premenstrual syndrome (including premenstrual dysphoric disorder), or panic disorder.

These symptoms include delusions and hallucinations. A major depressive episode persists for at least two weeks, and may result in suicide if left untreated.

Since a diagnosis of bipolar disorder requires a manic or hypomanic episode, many affected individuals are initially misdiagnosed as having major depression and then incorrectly treated with prescribed antidepressants.

The risk of bipolar disorder is nearly ten-fold higher in first degree-relatives of those affected with bipolar disorder when compared to the general population; similarly, the risk of major depressive disorder is three times higher in relatives of those with bipolar disorder when compared to the general population.

The largest and most recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) failed to find any particular locus that exerts a large effect reinforcing the idea that no single gene is responsible for bipolar disorder in most cases.

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