The 3 Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression, is a mental health condition characterized by shifts in moods that are polar opposites — extreme exuberance and extreme sadness — thus the name. The textbook definition of the disorder, however, requires that the patient experience at least one manic episode during their lifetime regardless of whether they have also experienced a period of extreme depression. 

So how common is bipolar disorder? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, almost 3% of American adults 18-years-old and older are diagnosed with bipolar disorder each year (about seven million adult Americans). When you look at that in the context of the total number of patients with a mental illness — about 47.6 million, or one in five Americans, and consider that bipolar disorder symptoms can often be mistaken for symptoms of other mental health conditions, then you start to get the full picture of the complexities surrounding this condition.

The experienced clinical team at Connect Wellness in Beverly Hills, California, led by Executive Director Rod Amiri, MD, has been helping patients with bipolar and related disorders regain control of their lives through an evidence-based mental health treatment approach to help manage their symptoms and guide them toward mental wellness. This intensive outpatient treatment program includes group and individual therapy sessions, which may be enhanced by mindfulness-based, cognitive-behavioral, or dialectical behavior therapies.

Dr. Amiri offers his insights on bipolar disorder to help you navigate the extensive information about this complicated mental health condition. Bipolar and Related Disorders present in three major distinct types. The different types are typically categorized by the length of the episode, the severity of the symptoms, and the energy level and changes in behavior that occur during the episode. 

  1. Bipolar I Disorder: Mania for more than a week

Mania, or having a manic episode, is one of the major symptoms of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I refers to at least one week (or shorter duration if the patient needs to be hospitalized) of extreme and abnormally persistent elevated, irritable, or expansive mood where the sufferer feels that anything is possible. The individual often takes on a number of goal-driven tasks, jumping from project to project. During these high-energy episodes, the sufferer goes with little or no sleep and may seek excessive pleasurable activities with little regard for one’s own safety. Although Bipolar I sufferers usually experience the high of highs, they can have times of irritability if things don’t go their way.  Usually, the periods of mania are then followed by a period of major (deep) depression.

  1. Bipolar II Disorder: Mix of depressive and hypomanic episodes

Bipolar II Disorder entails vacillations between hypomanic (less severe and of shorter duration compared to mania) and major depressive episodes.  Major Depressive episodes dominate the course and the mood swings are not as pronounced as in Bipolar I Disorder. To be diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, the individual needs to have experienced at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode during her lifetime.

  1. Cyclothymic Disorder: Repetitive cycles of mood swings

This bipolar and related disorder includes the experience and presence of numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that don’t meet the criteria for a hypomanic or major depressive episode. Adults with Cyclothymic Disorder tend to experience the above symptoms for at least two years and are never symptom-free for more than two months.  Although this disorder is not as severe as the other two major bipolar and related disorders, it can, however, cause significant distress for the sufferer and preclude the individual from fulfilling personal, social, and work-related duties.

Bipolar and related disorders are life-long mental health conditions that can be effectively treated. If you think you or a loved one is suffering from a bipolar and related disorder, call us at 310-881-8643 or book an appointment online today. We can help you get back to feeling like yourself again. 

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