Main Types of Bipolar Disorder

Main Types of Bipolar Disorder

When we talk about mood disorders, this is a general umbrella term that refers to a few different conditions that we can recognize and diagnose after enough proper appointments with a mental health professional. You have likely heard of the condition known as bipolar disorder, and there is no doubt that bipolar disorder is very misunderstood and surrounded with stigmas. Bipolar disorder is characterized by intense changes in the mood, degree of energy, and overall activity levels an individual has. These changes can really affect an individual and make it extremely difficult to go about their daily life if left undiagnosed or untreated.

Sometimes, the onset of the mania or depression might last for just a few hours or a couple of days. Typically, though, these episodes do last a week or more and may need medical attention. You might not know there are actually a few different main types of bipolar disorder that have characteristics that vary between one another. Today, we are going to break down the different subtypes of bipolar disorder that exist so that we can have a better grasp and gain an improved understanding of this condition.


Bipolar I Disorder

With bipolar I disorder, an individual experiences manic episodes that could possibly last for at least a week, followed by episodes of major depression that can stick around for around two weeks. These episodes may be so critical that they require medical intervention, and it is even possible for both types of episodes to happen congruently. It is imperative to ensure that the appropriate attention or treatment is offered during severe episodes to certify that there is no immediate harm to oneself or others during this time, especially since bipolar anger outburst may occur sometimes. Some other symptoms that come with bipolar 1 include heightened levels of energy, decreased sleep, impulsiveness, and restlessness during the manic portion, followed by a deep state of depression, numbness, increased fatigue, or trouble sleeping, and an inability to concentrate. Everyone is unique, and this condition does not look the same with each and every person.

Bipolar II Disorder

When it comes to bipolar II disorder, there are a few similarities to bipolar 1, with the exception of there being less sever manic episodes. This less intense and milder form of mania has been coined as hypomania to differentiate between the two. With bipolar 1, hypomania and regular mania can be seen, but with bipolar 2, there are only onsets of hypomania. Major depressive episodes still occur, and they may happen before or after a hypomanic episode in a person. The indication of at least one or more major depressive episodes are necessary to be able to give someone a set diagnosis of bipolar II disorder. Other symptoms that accompany bipolar 2 include either sleepiness or trouble sleeping, a loss of enjoyment in most things, and potentially suicidal thoughts. Be sure to reach out and seek help from a medical professional if you have experienced such symptoms so that you can avoid future occurrences and maintain an equalized lifestyle.


Cyclothymic Disorder

The third type of bipolar disorder that is recognized in the world of mental health is cyclothymic disorder. This condition is characterized by bouts of hypomania that are followed by episodes of depression that last for two years or even more within adults, and one year in kids and teens. This onset of depression is not as severe as the major depressive episodes that are seen in bipolar 1 and 2, but they last for a much longer period of time. When it comes to other symptoms that accompany cyclothymic disorder, you may see an increased level of irritability, troubles with sleep, hopelessness, a lack of focus, and incessant thoughts. Cyclothymia is more rare than bipolar 1 and 2, and it can be managed when mental health and medical attention is received.


Other Forms

 Aside from the above three subtypes, there are other variations of mood disorders that showcase themselves similarly to bipolar disorder, but they are classified as “other specified and unspecified bipolar related disorders.” These disorders may be brought on by specific drugs, alcohol, or even other illnesses – especially ones that have an effect on the brain. These other types of mood disorders manifest similarly to bipolar disorder, but they do not meet the full specifications to be diagnosed as bipolar. Some of the same symptoms may indeed be present, but other factors come into play and therefore create this separate subtype within the bipolar disorder umbrella.


Treating Bipolar Disorder

Treating bipolar disorder may look different to each person, since no one treatment will suit every single individual out there. Currently, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but with adequate healthcare assistance, it can certainly be managed and regulated when it is closely monitored. Medications have shown to be highly effective, such as lithium, which is a mood stabilizer, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-depressants. Therapy is also of course highly beneficial, especially when it is with a bipolar specialist. Talk therapy or CBT have proven to be highly effective when working with clients with bipolar disorder, and when used in conjunction with medications, the management of this condition becomes much more successful.

Hopefully you have gained some insight regarding bipolar disorder, and you better understand the differences between the main types of this condition. While the conversation surrounding mental health is spreading in a positive way, heavy stigmas continue to surround it, especially when it comes to bipolar disorder. In case you were not aware before, you are now knowledgeable about the fact that there is more than one type of bipolar disorder, and that the signs and symptoms do not always look the same on everyone. It’s important to work on understanding the world of mental health as much as we possibly can, because everyone will only benefit from the increase of awareness and compassion that will inherently come along with doing so.


Getting Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with any form of bipolar disorder, please reach out to Dr. Messina & Associates. Our compassionate team of highly qualified psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists are ready to help you in your journey to a healthier mindset through cognitive behavioral therapy and medication management. 

Dr. Michael Messina

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