Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior. People with bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad, hopeless, and lost. While emotional highs and lows generally define this disorder, there are different “highs” that people can experience, categorizing the different types of bipolar disorder.
Sometimes, people are unsure of what they are experiencing. They may have depressed moods, but not a happy and energized “high.” Instead, they feel angry. These feelings can be confusing, and some may not know where to look. By exploring the different types of bipolar disorder, people can better look out for what they are experiencing and speak to a medical professional if necessary.
An Overview of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental health disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three types involve evident changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of significantly “up,” elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very “down,” sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.
Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed during late adolescence or early adulthood. Occasionally, bipolar symptoms can appear in children. Bipolar disorder can also first appear during a woman’s pregnancy or following childbirth. Although the symptoms may vary over time, bipolar disorder usually requires lifelong treatment. Following a prescribed treatment plan can help people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Bipolar Ⅰ Disorder
Bipolar Ⅰ disorder is characterized by having at least one manic episode in a person’s lifetime. The symptoms of a manic episode with this type of bipolar can sometimes be so severe the individual requires hospital care. Manic episodes are usually categorized by:
- Exceptional energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of euphoria
- Risky behaviors
- Poor sleep
A manic episode is more than just a feeling of elation, high energy, or being distracted. During a manic episode, the mania is so intense that it can interfere with daily activities. People in the manic phase of bipolar disorder can make some very irrational decisions, such as spending large amounts of money that they can’t afford to spend. They may also engage in high-risk behaviors, such as sexual indiscretions, despite being in a committed relationship.
A person with bipolar Ⅰ may or may not experience a major depressive episode. Depressive symptoms in someone with bipolar disorder are like those of someone with clinical depression. They may include extended periods of sadness and hopelessness. An individual may also experience a loss of interest in people they once enjoyed spending time with and activities they used to like. Other symptoms include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Changes in eating habits
- Thoughts of suicide
Bipolar Ⅱ Disorder
Bipolar Ⅱ disorder involves a major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode (a period that’s less severe than a full-blown manic episode). People with bipolar Ⅱ disorder typically don’t experience manic episodes intense enough to require hospitalization.
A hypomanic episode is a period of mania that’s less severe than a full-blown manic episode. Though less severe than a manic episode, a hypomanic phase is still an event in which the individual’s behavior differs from their normal state. The differences will be extreme enough that people around may notice that something is wrong. Symptoms of hypomania include:
- Being easily distracted
- Flying from one idea to the next
- Having exaggerated self-confidence
- Rapid, loud speech
- Increased energy, with hyperactivity and a decreased need for sleep
Bipolar Ⅱ is sometimes misdiagnosed as depression, as depressive symptoms may be the primary symptom when the person seeks medical attention. When there are no manic episodes to suggest bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms become the focus.
Cyclothymic disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is a rare mood disorder that causes emotional ups and downs. The highs of cyclothymia include symptoms of an elevated mood (hypomanic symptoms). The lows consist of mild or moderate depressive symptoms. Periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms must last for at least two years (one year in children and adolescents) for a person to be diagnosed with this disorder.
Cyclothymia symptoms are similar to those of bipolar Ⅰ or Ⅱ disorder, but they’re less severe. People with cyclothymia can typically function in their daily life, though not consistently well. The unpredictable nature of their mood shifts may significantly disrupt their life because they never know how they’re going to feel.
Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar Related Disorder
Other specified bipolar and related disorder is applied when symptoms cause significant distress or impairment but do not meet the full criteria for any of the other types of bipolar. This diagnosis is used when the clinician specifies why criteria are not met (for example, not quite enough days or symptoms displayed to trigger the full diagnosis).
Unspecified bipolar and related disorder is used to describe situations where the clinician chooses not to specify why the criteria for one of the other types of bipolar are not met or when there is not enough information available to make a more specific diagnosis.
Sometimes the way we feel is confusing, and we want answers. Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that is characterized by emotional highs and lows. However, the different types of bipolar disorder bring about different symptoms. Knowing each type of bipolar disorder and what they entail may help you reach out to a medical professional about how you feel. If you need support along your mental health journey, Hired Power is here to help. Our Personal Recovery Assistants encourage and motivate clients to become active participants in their own lives as they walk the path of recovery. We also offer transport services, which can help you get to and from doctor’s appointments or any other activities safely. Whatever you are struggling with, Hired Power wants you to know that you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to us today at 800.910.9299 to get the services you need today.