Bipolar Disorder Types

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition defined by severe mood swings. While most of us experience mood swings to a certain degree, bipolar disorder is a different case. Neurological imbalances, genetics, and irregularities of neurotransmitters can all contribute to bipolar disorder, characterized by extreme ups and downs that can have an overall negative impact on an individual’s daily life, everyday activities, professional life, and relationships. In addition, there are multiple bipolar disorder types. 

Bipolar disorder is a serious, lifelong condition, but it is manageable with proper care and treatment. Bipolar disorder has different types, and each type requires a different treatment approach. So here is an overview of the main types of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Types

Living with bipolar disorder does not simply refer to alternating periods of manic and depressive episodes. Individuals with bipolar disorder do experience periods of no symptoms or symptoms mild enough for them to keep functioning. There are two primary types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II.

Bipolar I — Bipolar I disorder is primarily characterized by manic episodes, and in most cases, a manic episode usually lasts a week. However, periods of depressive episodes can also occur.

Bipolar II — Bipolar II disorder, as opposed to bipolar I, is predominantly characterized by periods of depressive episodes, typically a couple of weeks at a time. In most cases, a depressive episode occurs following a hypomanic episode, which is a less intense form of a manic episode.

Non-specified Bipolar Disorder — Some individuals may experience depressive, manic, or hypomanic symptoms, but these may not necessarily meet the diagnostic criteria of any known bipolar types. In these cases, the condition cannot be defined as bipolar I or bipolar II and the patient is diagnosed with a non-specified bipolar disorder.

Cyclothymic disorder — Also referred to as cyclothymia, this disorder is not exactly a type of bipolar disorder but is a nearly identical form of the condition with less severe depressive and hypomanic symptoms that cannot be defined as episodes. Without treatment, cyclothymia can progress to full-blown depressive and manic episodes, so it is important to seek medical attention.

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