Types of Bipolar Disorder

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A lifelong illness, bipolar disorder manifests in persons showing periods of depression and mania. Mania is described as a mental illness where the person has times when they are very excited, euphoric, delusional, or are overactive.

There is more than one form of bipolar disorder, and have degrees of manic and depressive episodes. The types of bipolar disorder include:

Bipolar 1 Disorder is also known as manic-depressive disorder or manic depression. The symptoms of this illness include severe mood swings that cycle through episodes of mania and depression. Those with bipolar 1 disorder will have had at least one manic episode in their life. This episode is distinguished by an abnormally happy or elevated mood that involves some behavior that disrupts life.

Besides manic episodes, many of those with bipolar 1 disorder will also have times when they are depressed. Typically those who have manic depression will swing from mania to depression in a cycle, which is where the original name for this illness comes from. When not caught up in depression or mania, there are many sufferers who can actually lead regular lives.

The manic or extremely happy or irritable episodes of bipolar disorder can manifest abnormal behavior in a number of ways including:

  • Spending more money than they have
  • Going rapidly from one idea to another, changing their mind often
  • Talking loud and fast
  • Not needing sleep, being hyperactive, and having more energy
  • Having their self-image inflated
  • Hyper-sexuality – which can mean that the person going through a manic episode might have sex with those they wouldn’t consider under normal circumstances
  • Abusing alcohol and drugs

Manic episodes can contribute to the sufferer forming very unrealistic plans, behaving in a strange manner, and becoming delusional, loosing touch with reality. The manic episodes can last from just a few days, to a period of several years. Typically the symptoms will last an average of two to eight weeks.

Once the manic episode is over the patient will generally go through a period of depression or this part of the cycle may not show up for weeks or months. There are rare occurrences where the person with bipolar 1 disorder can cycle between mania and depression in a short period of time, even in one day.

Symptoms of the depressive periods resemble clinical depression. They include low energy, fatigue, not wanting to participate in regular activities, feeling of guilt or nor being of worth, a depressed mood, and often thoughts of suicide. The depressive phase of the cycle can from a week or so to years.

Bipolar 2 Disorder is a milder version of Bipolar 1. It is typified by milder episodes, or hypomania, cycling with depression. The happy, or up moods in bipolar 2 disorder, never quite reach total mania. The less-intense mood swings that occur in bipolar 2 disorder are called hypomanic episodes, or hypomania.

Types of Bipolar DisorderThe ups and downs aren’t as intense in hypomanic episodes. Many of those with bipolar 2 disorder can be thought of as the life of the party. When they are feeling “good” they can be very interested in others and display a positive attitude. They still will often spend more money than they can afford, have sex with those they typically wouldn’t consider, and do risky and impulsive things without much thought.

Those with this illness also tend to have very tough periods of depression. These changes in mood will often happen right after a hypomanic episode, but they can occur a lot later. There are some who will have long periods of normalcy between episodes and some who will cycle back and forth between the depression and hypomania.

The typical length of symptoms for those with bipolar 2 disorder is from two to eight weeks, however if the problem goes untreated in can last up to several years.

Cyclothymic Disorder is the form of bipolar disorder with even less pronounced mood springs. Causing mild mood swings, cyclothymic disorder manifests as short periods of elevated mood and mild depression. These lows and highs don’t become mania or severe depression. Categorized as a “bipolar-like” illness, the mild symptoms include fluctuations in mood that are not quite mental illness and not quite normal.

Many of those with cyclothymia lead highly successful lives.  The mild mania or hypomania drives them to succeed, to work on their talents or the things they enjoy. The reverse of their good, successful periods is that mild chronic depression can ruin the jobs, marriages, and many other aspects of their life.

For more information about mania and hypomania see here.

Mixed Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness where the person is both manic and depressed at the same time. Someone suffering from mixed bipolar disorder has racing thoughts, lots of energy and tons of ideas, and at the same time they are angry, moody, and feel bad. Instead of swinging between moods, those with mixed bipolar disorder have both bad and good moods one right after the other in quick order, or they have both at the same time.


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