Proposed Criteria

A. Lifetime experience of at least one major depressive episode.

B. At least two lifetime episodes of hypomanic periods that involve the required criterion symptoms below but are of insufficient duration (at least 3 days but less than 4 consecutive days) to meet criteria for a hypomanic episode.

Major Depressive Episode

A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. (Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly attributable to another medical condition.)

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, or hopeless) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.)
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation).
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. (Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gain.)
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others; not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
  8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

B. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

C. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition.

D. The disturbance is not better explained by schizoaffective disorder and is not superimposed on schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, delusional disorder, or other specified or unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder.

Hypomania Episode

A. A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy.

B. During the period of mood disturbance and increased energy or activity, three (or more) of the following symptoms (four if the mood is only irritable) are present to a significant degree and represent a noticeable change from usual behavior, and have been present to a significant degree:

  1. Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity.
  2. Decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep).
  3. More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking.
  4. Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing.
  5. Distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli), as reported or observed.
  6. Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation.
  7. Excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments).

C. The episode is associated with an unequivocal change in functioning that is uncharacteristic of the individual when not symptomatic.

D. The disturbance in mood and the change in functioning are observable by others.

E. The episode is not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning or to necessitate hospitalization. If there are psychotic features, the episode is, by definition, manic.

F. The episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication, other treatment).

Differential Diagnosis

Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by a period of at least 4 days of hypomanic symptoms, whereas short-duration hypomania is characterized by periods of 2-3 days of hypomanic symptoms. Once an individual has experienced a hypomanic episode (4 days or more), the diagnosis becomes and remains bipolar II disorder regardless of future duration of hypomanic symptom periods.

Major depressive disorder

Major depressive disorder is also characterized by at least one lifetime major depressive episode. However, the additional presence of at least two lifetime periods of 2-3 days of hypomanic symptoms leads to a diagnosis of short-duration hypomania rather than to major depressive disorder.

Major depressive disorder with mixed features

Both major depressive disorder with mixed features and short-duration hypomania are characterized by the presence of some hypomanic symptoms and a major depressive episode. However, major depressive disorder with mixed features is characterized by hypomanic features present concurrently with a major depressive episode, while individuals with short-duration hypomania experience subsyndromal hypomania and fully syndromal major depression at different times.

Bipolar I disorder

Bipolar I disorder is differentiated from short-duration hypomania by at least one lifetime mania episode, which is longer (at least 1 week) and more severe (causes more impaired social functioning) than a hypomanic episode. An episode (of any duration) that involves psychotic symptoms or necessitates hospitalization is by definition a manic episode rather than a hypomanic one.

Cyclothymic disorder

While cyclothymic disorder is characterized by periods of depressive symptoms and periods of hypomanic symptoms, the lifetime presence of a major depressive episode precludes the diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder.

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