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The Four Types of Bipolar Disorder

Mood changes are a normal part of life, but if you experience ones that seem to go from one extreme to the other, it may be an underlying sign of a more serious mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder.

Affecting nearly 5.7 million American adults, bipolar disorder is a relatively common mental health issue that generally arises by the age of 25. It can occur in four different forms, including bipolar I, II, cyclothymia, and unspecified.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or are showing symptoms consistent with the condition, we are here to help.

Let’s explore all four types of bipolar disorder in further detail.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition most commonly known for its extreme mood shifts.

Bipolar disorder includes episodes of mania, or extremely elevated moods, and depression, or low moods.

Often, bipolar disorder can mask itself as other mental health issues, such as depression. More common than one may realize, bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability.

Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, as mood shifts can happen abruptly, and depressive episodes can last for days to weeks. Rapid and continuous mood changes can leave people feeling exhausted, defeated and overwhelmed.

The good news is that you don’t have to live with bipolar symptoms forever.

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, many effective treatment options are available to help regulate mood for those diagnosed with the condition.

Manic Episode Symptoms

One of the most telltale signs of a confirmed bipolar diagnosis is the presence of mania, or hypomania, a lesser extreme to standard mania.

Although a positive reprieve from depressive symptoms, mania symptoms can be debilitating and self-destructive for those living with it.

Symptoms include

  • racing thoughts
  • euphoria
  • difficulty focusing
  • hyperactivity
  • irritability
  • sleep pattern disruptions, including the inability to sleep
  • impulsivity
  • risky behaviors such as substance use
  • hallucinations
  • delusions

Depressive Episode Symptoms

On the opposite side of the spectrum of bipolar disorder from mania is depressive episodes. They often occur without warning and can last for days to weeks.

When a bipolar person experiences depressive episodes, they should be monitored closely to reduce the risk of self-destructive, suicidal behaviors.

Symptoms include

  • overwhelming sadness
  • sleep pattern disruptions
  • extreme fatigue
  • loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • chronic pain
  • appetite and weight changes
  • suicidal thoughts

Four Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are four main types of bipolar disorder. Using various assessment tools, a therapist can effectively diagnose a patient based on their symptoms and other lifestyle factors.

1.  Bipolar I

The most common type, Bipolar I is characterized by experiencing one or more manic episodes that last for a week or more and are severe enough to require professional intervention. With Bipolar I, people do not have to experience depressive episodes.

2.  Bipolar II

Similar to Bipolar I, Bipolar II involves mood changes but does not include mania episodes. Patients diagnosed with Bipolar II experience hypomania-related symptoms and depressive states.

3.  Cyclothymia

Also known as cyclothymic disorder, this type of bipolar disorder involves repetitive mood shifts between hypomania and depression that persists for 2years or longer. Although periods of more stable mood may occur, they do not last longer than a few weeks.

4.  Unspecified Bipolar Disorder

As its name suggests, Unspecified Bipolar Disorder is when symptoms cannot be specified but are present. It often includes episodes of unusual mania.

Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

It is important to note that addiction is often a coexisting condition of bipolar disorder, affecting 30 to 50% of all those diagnosed.

Many with bipolar disorder choose to medicate their symptoms with drugs or alcohol, leading to substance use disorder.

Bipolar disorder may also amplify the symptoms of co-occurring disorders, including

  • eating disorders
  • ADHD
  • phobias
  • anxiety
  • panic disorder

Effective and Personalized Mood Disorder Treatment Is Here

If you or a loved one is struggling with mood regulation, substance use disorder or any other type of mood disorder, our experienced and compassionate team at Alpine Recovery Lodge can help.

Don’t go another day without starting your journey to long-term healing. Contact us today to get the help you need sooner.