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Bipolar Disorder: Types, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Bipolar Disorder: Types, Symptoms and Treatment Options



Bipolar disorder affects approximately 46 million people worldwide and is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. However, it is important to note that due to the lack of psychiatric infrastructure the number of cases is vastly underreported. 

Bipolar disorder can affect an individual in many ways and severely degrade their quality of life. In this guide, we take you through different types of bipolar disorder, their phases as well as the treatment options that are available.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a group of mood disorders that involves serious mood swings between extreme mood states. The key characteristic graphs fall in-between episodes of mania (high mood) and depression (low mood). They experience this for a period of a few hours to months.

An individual who suffers from bipolar disorder encounters mood swings so intense, that it starts interfering with their productivity, behavior, personal relationships, and other daily functions of life. The patterns and duration of these changes can vary from person to person, but the overall experience of the highs of mania and the lows of depression are extreme. 

Generally, a manic episode is characterized by extreme happiness and hyperactivity that leads to a rapid flow of speech. In the other extreme of a depressive mood, the person experiences sadness, feels lethargic and lacks energy in all activities, loses interest in things, feels helpless and hopeless, and is unable to enjoy normal pleasurable activities.

Bipolar Disorders: Phases, Types, & Their Symptoms

Every person is unique from the rest and portrays a different characteristic and behavior. Similarly, there are different types of bipolar disorders that affect the individuals and the symptoms of each can look different in different people.

The rate of bipolar disorder is equal in both the genders and typically, the onset of symptoms occurs around the age of 25. Before we discuss the different types and their symptoms in detail, let’s take a quick review of different phases of bipolar disorder and how one can differentiate one from another.

The two common phases include:

Mania or Hypomania

In this phase of the disorder, you feel highly energetic, your creativity is at its peak, and you might experience little sleep or no sleep at all. In this state, you also talk rapidly and you might feel powerful and invincible.

While experiencing mania or hypomania (the less severe form of mania) you might encounter the following symptoms for weeks:

  • Reckless behavior that can lead to foolish business investments
  • Anger and irritation are common signs
  • Unable to concentrate on important things
  • Delusions and hallucinations

When you transit into the hypomania state, you feel euphoric, more productive but are still able to carry out your daily tasks without any complications. Despite the unusual good mood, the influence of hypomania can affect your relationships, career, and reputation.

Depression

During this state of mind, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling tired and sluggish
  • Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
  • Insomnia and sleeping issues
  • An abrupt change in appetite and weight
  • Memory retention power declines along with attention span
  • Severe cases can even trigger suicidal thoughts

Different Types of Mania/ Bipolar disorders

Bipolar Disorder is classified into 3 types depending on the mood episodes. The names are:

  • Bipolar 1 Disorder (Mania or a Mixed Episode)
  • Bipolar II Disorder (Hypomania and Depression)
  • Cyclothymia (Hypomania and Mild Depression)

Bipolar I Disorder

This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness which is characterized by at least one manic or a mixed episode. In this case, your symptoms can last longer than a week, and in some cases, the symptoms are severe enough to necessitate immediate hospital care. Usually, a person with bipolar one disorder also has depressive episodes, typically lasting at least two weeks, which significantly impair daily functioning and cause distress.

The common symptoms of Bipolar I disorder (during Mania) are:

  • Inflated self-image (Grandiosity)
  • Rapid and loud speech
  • Increased energy, with hyperactivity
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Hypersexuality
  • Substance abuse
  • A quick change of ideas or topics
  • Easily distracted

While being in a depressive mood, the individual experiences the following symptoms:

  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Frequent suicidal thoughts and death
  • Loss of interest in all major activities
  • Feeling worthless or guilty

Bipolar II Disorder

In this state, you exclusively experience episodes of both hypomania and severe depression. People return to their usual function between episodes. Individuals with Bipolar II often first seek treatment because of depressive symptoms, which can be severe. They often have other co-occurring mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorder or substance use disorder.

This type is characterized by uncontrollable mood swings, from elevated mood to depressed mood. Bipolar II symptoms sound similar to Bipolar I and are diagnosed majorly in women rather than men. 21 is the average age for both bipolar I and bipolar II disorder.

The primary difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 is that the Bipolar II form isn’t a milder form of Bipolar 1, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.

Cyclothymia

It’s the milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. It involves periods of low-level depression that alternates with periods of hypomania. One of the fundamental differences between bipolar 2 and cyclothymia is that this state of mind usually lasts for two years or more with frequent switching between the two moods. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression. The symptoms include:

  • Euphoria (Exaggerated feeling of happiness)
  • Risky thoughts
  • Talking more than normal
  • Poor judgment
  • Thinking of suicide
  • Guilt feeling
  • Weight loss

Other Forms of Bipolar Disorders

Substance/Medication-Induced Bipolar and Related Disorder: Here, the prominent mood disturbance is characterized by expansive, irritability, or feeling elevated. This mood disturbance may occur with or without a depressive mood wherein the individual constantly feels low and has decreased interest in activities.

Bipolar and Related Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition: Here there is a persistent and prominent mood characterized by abnormal feelings of elevation, expansive and irritability. All these mood disturbances are a result of a physical condition.

Rapid Cycling: This type is a pattern of frequent, discrete episodes in bipolar. The individual might encounter four or more manic, hypomanic, depressive episodes in 1 year. It is more common in women and individuals who suffer from Bipolar II disorder. The symptoms include the following:

  • Sad mood
  • Preoccupation with failure
  • Lack of memory
  • Social isolation
  • Decreased sexual drive
  • Extreme excitement 
  • Inactivity

Mixed episodes: In a mixed state, the individual experiences a combined impact of both mania (or hypomania) and depression. The rare combination of high energy and low mood makes for a high risk of suicide. The common symptoms include:

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fast or garbled speech
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Being highly extroverted, rude or suggestive
  • Irritated easily
  • Substance abuse
  • Constant sense of shame

How is Bipolar Disorder treated?

One of the most important steps of dealing with bipolar disorder is to identify which type of bipolar disorder the individual is suffering from. There are different types of bipolar disorders, and thus a clear understanding of each type is essential before initiating the treatment process.

Since bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, you must continue the treatment even if you are feeling better to avoid a chance of a relapse. To prevent new episodes, bipolar related conditions, and tostay symptom-free, doctors may use a combination of the following treatment strategies:

  • Relying on psychological treatment like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • Combining medication with other therapy sessions
  • Making a significant lifestyle change
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
  • Trying out different relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing
  • Aerobic exercises like swimming, running, cycling, etc.
  • Keeping a regular check on your sleeping pattern

Get help now

If you think you or your loved one may be experiencing bipolar symptoms, it’s advisable to visit a psychiatrist. Statistics show that the individual’s first symptom occurs a long time before they seek medical help and the other 30% of them never seek medical help. The earlier you start treatment, the more easily the condition can be managed. 

Call us @ 96111 94949 to learn more about Bipolar treatment options. 

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