Bipolar Disorder

The Distinction Between Bipolar Disorder 1 and 2

When most people think of Bipolar Disorder, they find rapid mood swings. However, depending on a person’s symptoms, there are various different categories of mood disorders, and not all of these categories involve the highs of mania and the lows of depression. Only a doctor or mental health expert can establish a diagnosis for a mood illness, and it may take years of observation to achieve an appropriate diagnosis.

Bipolar Disorder I

Bipolar I disorder demands symptoms that fulfill the whole criteria for a manic episode. You do not have to be depressed to be diagnosed with Bipolar I, but many people who receive the diagnosis have both types of mood episodes. 

At least three of the following symptoms must be present during a manic episode:

  • increased chattiness
  • heightened self-esteem or grandiosity
  • less need for sleep
  • a rise in goal-directed activity, energy, or agitation
  • racing thoughts
  • poor concentration
  • more hazard-taking (spending money, risky sexual behaviors, etc.)

Mania is far more extreme than a quick burst of energy or motivation or a good mood. It frequently causes problems at work, school, and in relationships, and in some circumstances may necessitate hospitalization. For people with Bipolar I, a manic episode is just as frequently defined by an irritable mood as it is by an elevated mood, so never assume a manic episode isn’t there just because a person doesn’t appear happy or enthusiastic. 

Bipolar Disorder Quiz

Do I have bipolar? Take this test to determine if you could benefit from further evaluation and treatment by a mental health expert.

Bipolar Disorder II

To be diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, a person must have had a depressive episode as well as a milder form of mania known as hypomania. A person suffering from mania will exhibit manic symptoms but will be able to carry on with daily tasks, and may even perceive an improvement in job performance or other goal-directed activity. Nonetheless, the elevated mood is not severe enough to warrant hospitalization or cause a major disturbance at home or work. 

A person must have 5 or more of the following symptoms to qualify for a depressive episode:

  • Sleep changes
  • dietary changes
  • exhaustion or a lack of energy
  • loss of enjoyment in previously loved activities
  • anxiety or slowing down
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • uncertainty or difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal ideas

Since they fail to report the increased mood symptoms of hypomania to their doctor, many persons with Bipolar II Disorder are diagnosed with depression. Bipolar II patients may also be more prone to substance abuse and food issues. They are also more likely to have a relative with psychiatric disease in their immediate family. To recap, Bipolar I involves a manic episode but can also contain depression. A depressive episode, as well as a hypomanic episode, are required for a Bipolar II diagnosis.

Cyclothymic Disorder

If you’ve had manic and depressive symptoms for several years but haven’t met the criteria for a full manic or depressive episode, your doctor may diagnose you with Cyclothymic Disorder. Some patients with Bipolar Disorder also satisfy the criteria for rapid cycling, which requires twelve months of mood episodes of depression, mania, or hypomania. Both kinds of Bipolar Disorder can cause rapid cycling. 

Because your Bipolar diagnosis can influence the course of treatment and medication prescribed by your doctor, it is critical that you disclose all mood problems to your doctor. Treating depression rather than mania may raise the chance of a mania episode or suicidal thoughts and acts, therefore it’s critical to track both highs and lows. ⁶ Because drugs and alcohol can produce episodes of mania or depression, you may need to complete detoxification before receiving a diagnosis.

Maintaining a daily diary of your mood, energy level, attention span, and habits will assist you in receiving the most accurate diagnosis. Being knowledgeable and patient with the diagnostic procedure also increases your chances of managing symptoms and minimizing the frequency and intensity of mood fluctuations. It is possible to manage mental illness and live a full and goal-directed life with the right team of support and the right tools for keeping track of your symptoms. What actions can you take right now to connect with the best resources for your mind and body?