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A Guide To The Types Of Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder causes people to experience intense emotional states that are too powerful for them to control or ignore. In the US alone, there are approximately 5.9 million people diagnosed with the condition — approximately 1% of the total US population. About 10% experience their first episode before age 25, according to research from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). There are a few types of bipolar disorder, let’s take a look at them and understand them better.

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What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar is a mental illness that causes extreme episodes of depression and mania, and these moods can swing between the two. During the depressive episode, the individual may experience severe sadness, sleep a lot, lack of interest in their hobbies, and thoughts of suicide.

Mania is a period or state in which the person shows signs or symptoms such as inflated self-esteem and euphoria. People experiencing mania may react by being overly social, struggle to sleep, and have intense bouts of energy. Some people will shop, clean, and exercise excessively during this time.

Bipolar disorder is sometimes also known as manic depression or manic-depressive illness. Some individuals who have the disorder may not experience depression, only mania.

Having bipolar disorder can affect you, your family, and your work or school life. It’s difficult to predict when an episode will occur or how severe it will be because they come without warning and last for different lengths (days to weeks).

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Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are many types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and unspecified bipolar disorder. If a person is affected by one of these conditions, they may also be diagnosed with another mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety.

Bipolar I

Bipolar I is the most severe type of condition. It is characterized by the presence of at least one manic episode or mixed episode (a period that includes symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time) in addition to periods with episodes of major depression. The episodes of mania or depression may last for a few days to a few months.

Frequent manic episodes are thought to play a role in developing bipolar I disorder. People who have it may experience their first manic episode at age 21 or older. Manic episodes are often caused by life events such as grief, stress at work, or the death of a loved one.

bipolar 1 disorder

Bipolar Disorder II

Bipolar II is characterized by at least one major depressive episode and one manic episode in addition to periods with symptoms of mixed episodes. People who have bipolar II often experience their first major depressive episode during their teenage years. This type of depression may be accompanied by psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations.

When in the depressive phase of Bipolar II disorder, patients are more likely to experience lethargy and slowed mental and physical abilities. They also often have periods of normal mood between episodes.

Bipolar I disorder is a type of mood disorder that causes extreme levels of mania and depression, and it is associated with psychotic symptoms, especially in younger people. Bipolar II disorder is a mood disorder characterized by extreme lows and ups in mood cycles over a year or two if untreated. Those suffering from bipolar II will often experience worsening depression later in life, but not manic episodes.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is a type of bipolar disorder characterized by episodes of mild depression and periods of abnormally high energy, euphoria, or irritability lasting for at least two weeks. This type of bipolar disorder can also manifest with milder symptoms, including shifts in energy, sleep patterns, and moods. People with the cyclothymic disorder may have normal moods in between their manic and depressive phases.

Cyclothymic disorder is a subtype of bipolar disorder that is sometimes referred to as “milder manic-depressive variations.” It is characterized by cycles of mild-to-moderate depression alternating with extremely high or irritable moods lasting for at least two weeks.

This type of bipolar illness can also occur without the presence of a manic episode. The cyclothymic disorder can occur in individuals who suffer from either unipolar or bipolar depression.

bipolar ii disorder

Unspecified Bipolar Disorder

Unspecified bipolar disorder is a term used when someone has symptoms of bipolar disorder but doesn’t have the types of highs and lows typical for people with bipolar. In other words, unipolar or rapid cycling moods are either uncommon or unseen.

How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed when mood episodes meet certain criteria. These criteria require a person to have had at least one manic or mixed episode, along with two major depressive episodes, and there must not be any psychotic symptoms. Once these criteria are met, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is confirmed.

The diagnosis can be made according to the DSM-5 criteria using the diagnostic interview for depressive disorders and manic episodes. The diagnosis is confirmed by history taking and clinical interview.

Early treatment can help prevent deterioration. There is a higher risk of suicide or other substance abuse with co-morbid psychiatric disorders. The presence of suicide or violence should raise suspicion for bipolar disorder.

Patients must be monitored for the development of substance use disorders to ensure compliance with medication treatment regimens and to reduce the likelihood that these patients will develop problems with drug abuse or dependence.

Causes and Treatments of Bipolar Disorder

The causes of bipolar disorder also depend on the particular type of the disorder. Bipolar disorder I, II, and cyclothymic are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors; however, the exact nature of this combination has yet to be determined.

Certain drugs may trigger manic episodes in individuals with a family history of bipolar illness, but these drugs aren’t necessarily the cause. In addition, those genetically predisposed to bipolar disorder may develop an episode following exposure to certain environmental stresses such as an extremely stressful life event.

Treatments for Bipolar Disorders

Medication is the key element of bipolar disorder I treatment. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) has also proved beneficial for many patients to help them learn about their illness.

Psychotherapy is a type of mental health treatment in which an objective therapist’s therapeutic methods are used to treat mental and emotional disorders.

Bipolar disorder treatment is individualized. Bipolar disorder patients may need to try more than one medication or therapy before finding their best option.

In some cases, when medicines and talk therapy do not work, a powerful treatment known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be the best alternative.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment that uses electrical stimulation to induce an epileptic seizure in the brain. This is often done when other forms of treatment have not been successful. ECT can be useful in people with severe depression and schizophrenia, although it may cause memory loss and other side effects.

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