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Bipolar Disorder Types: Understanding Variations

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Bipolar disorder affects approximately 45 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 under-reported. Bipolar Disorder is classified into 3 bipolar types depending on the mood episodes, namely Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymia. The following article will explain how they occur and what one can do to tackle them.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder: Definition and Impact

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 they start interfering with their productivity, behavior, personal relationships, and other daily functions of life.

Types of Bipolar Disorder and Their Symptoms

Bipolar Disorder is classified into three bipolar types depending on the mood episodes. They are:

  • Bipolar I (Mania or a Mixed Episode)
  • Bipolar II (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 mixed episode. In this case, the 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 I disorder also has depressive episodes, typically lasting at least two weeks, which significantly impair daily functioning and cause distress.

Bipolar II Disorder

In this state, one exclusively experiences 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.

Cyclothymic Disorder

This is a 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

Rapid Cycling Bipolar

This is characterized by four or more manic episodes, depressive episodes or hypomania in a time span of 12 months. Changes in mood are very common and can occur in a few hours or days as well. If there are even more than four episodes in a single month, it is known as ‘ultra-rapid cycling’. Usually, there is no set pattern for this cycling, and it may happen at any point of time during the process. 

Bipolar with Seasonal Features

This type is characterized by depressive episodes becoming frequent in the autumn and winter months. 25% of people with Bipolar disorder have a seasonal depressive cycle. Individuals with Bipolar I have stages of mania showing in the spring and/or the summer months. Hypomanic patients experience it during the summer months as well. 

Other Unspecified Bipolar

In some very rare cases, the diagnosis will not fit into any of these categories, but one may, nonetheless, experience symptoms of Bipolar disorder. It is essential to still get it checked out by a psychiatrist and let them take a call on what is to be done. 

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Understanding the Phases of Bipolar Disorder

Along with different types of bipolar personality disorder, people experience these in different stages. In each stage, patients experience different mood episodes. One should be able to identify the symptoms associated with each stage to get the right treatment.

Mania and Hypomania: High Energy and Creativity

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.

Symptoms of Mania and Hypomania

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

Transition to Hypomania: Euphoria and Productivity

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

The Depression Phase in Bipolar Disorder

In this phase of the disorder, you feel extremely low on energy, and you might experience little sleep or no sleep at all. In this state, you also reduce social interactions and may experience several negative feelings, such as low self-esteem and a tendency to self-harm.

Common Symptoms of the Depressive State

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

Recognizing Severe Depression and Suicidal Tendencies

Individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for a long period, which can cause significant impairment. This may also be accompanied by suicidal thoughts, and this is a sure-shot sign of recognizing depression.

Mixed Mood State in Bipolar Disorder

A mixed mood state in Bipolar disorder essentially refers to a state where one experiences both the symptoms of depression as well as mania or hypomania—usually at the same time. 

Symptoms of the Mixed Mood State

The following are the symptoms of a mixed mood state:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Emotional lability
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Suicide ideation

Managing Agitation, Anxiety, and Emotional Liability

There are some simple methods by which one can manage one’s anxiety. Creating an environment that is calm and soothing is essential. Removing stressors around is also needed. One may need to move to a different place, which allows them a sense of security and privacy. Practising self-care methods such as meditation are also helpful.

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

In most cases, the doctor will do a preliminary physical exam and other lab tests. Then a psychiatrist will talk to the patient about their behavior and thought patterns. They may be asked to fill out questionnaires, and sometimes, family members may be called in to provide extra information. Maintaining a mood chart is also often recommended. Finally, the criteria will be evaluated by the psychiatrist to diagnose the patient. 

Treatment Approaches for Bipolar Disorder Types

Treatment varies from person to person, but it is always to be guided by a doctor. It will vary from person to person, and it usually involves some form of medication and psychotherapy. Medications should not be skipped as they can lead to a relapse, and in certain cases, hospitalization is also needed. 

Living with Bipolar Disorder: Coping Strategies and Support

Having a generally healthy lifestyle is key to keeping Bipolar disorder in check. Maintaining and sticking to a daily schedule is helpful for things such as eating, sleeping, working, exercising, socializing, and time for the self. Having a good support system in place is also essential for maintaining one’s peace of mind. 

Towards a Brighter Tomorrow: Bipolar Disorder Solutions with Cadabams

The most effective treatment for bipolar disorder is a combination of medication and counseling. At Cadabam’s, the experienced team of psychiatrists has been trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, psychosocial rehabilitation, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), and family-centric therapy. Cadabam’s has been treating bipolar for over two decades and has established a strong expertise in this realm. Moreover, the state-of-the-art facilities at the center further ensure that every patient gets the best treatment facility.

If you are searching for a solution to your problem, Cadabam’s Rehabilitation Centre can help you with its team of specialized experts. We have been helping thousands of people live healthier and happier lives for 30+ years. We leverage evidence-based approaches and holistic treatment methods to help individuals effectively manage their Bipolar Disorder. Get in touch with us today. You can call us at +91 96111 94949

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1. What are the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?

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

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

2. How is Bipolar I Different from Bipolar II?

The primary distinction between Bipolar I and Bipolar II lies in the severity of the symptoms. The former has extreme manic states and may or may not be accompanied by depressive ones, and the latter has less severe manic states but will have intense depressive ones.  

3. What are Common Treatments for Bipolar Disorder?

The main treatments for bipolar disorder involve medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) to manage symptoms, supplemented by education and support groups.

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