A mixed episode (DSM-IV) is not a disorder itself, but rather is a description of a component of a specific type of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by a swing in mood, usually over the course of weeks or months at a time, between manic (or hypomanic) episodes and depressive episodes.

A mixed episode is defined by meeting the diagnostic criteria for both a manic episode as well as a major depressive episode nearly every day for at least a full week.

Like most mental disorders, a mixed episode must be severe enough to cause distress or impairment in social, occupational, education, or other important functioning and is not better accounted for by the physiological effects of substance use or abuse (alcohol, drugs, medications) or a general medical condition.

The term “Mixed Episode” is no longer used in the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). As of 2013, such episodes are considered a “specifier” of bipolar disorder. See updated “mixed features specifier” criteria.

Learn more about Bipolar Disorder

This post has been updated according to DSM-5.