A Quick Guide To Bipolar Disorder I And II

Within the last few decades, movements dedicated to raising awareness about mental illness have made great strides in helping many people worldwide. The World Health Organization reports an estimate of 1 in 4 people are or will be affected by psychological illness at some point in their lives, but two-thirds of those people do not seek professional help. As far as we’ve come as to getting people the help they need, there is still more work that needs to be done.


One such condition is Bipolar disorder, which affects an estimated 5.7 million people in the US alone. Confusing to many people are the two general classifications of Bipolar disorder, namely, type I and type II. This guide should help you learn the difference between the two kinds of bipolar disorder. If you notice any symptoms that you feel apply to you, consider meeting with a professional for help.


A Tale Of Two Symptoms

Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, is generally classified as a mental illness characterized by shifts in mood, activity, and the ability to perform daily tasks. Mood changes can be described as “manic” or having very high energy levels and elation, and “depressive”, or generally feeling “down” and hopeless. There is also “hypomania”, a less intense kind of mania that lasts only for a few days compared to the longer possible manic periods.


The Powerful Emotion Of Bipolar I

Bipolar I is characterized by having at least one major manic episode lasting at least one week. While a major depressive episode is not needed to be diagnosed with bipolar I, it is not impossible for it to occur. A manic episode can consist of strange feelings of elevation or irritability, and high energy levels that can last for most of or for several days. The manic episode is usually preceded by a hypomanic episode or a major depressive episode.


People experiencing a manic episode may experience trouble sleeping, talking at a fast pace about many different topics, fast-paced thoughts, and a higher propensity for risky activities such as substance abuse or reckless relations with other people.


The Subtle Swinging Of Bipolar II

By contrast, bipolar II is characterized by having at least one major depressive episode, as well as incidences of hypomania not lasting more than four days. While hypomania shares elements of a manic episode, it usually does not carry the intensity or longevity to be categorized as mania.


Often harder to diagnose than bipolar I, it can be mistaken for unipolar (or non-bipolar) depression, leading to misdiagnosis. While the less potent hypomania may lead to being more outgoing, industrious, and adventurous, it may still lead to some of the problematic ends of mania, such as failing relationships or poor decision-making.


Major depressive episodes are characterized by a variety of symptoms, including hopelessness, an inability to enjoy things, forgetfulness, or suicidal thoughts among other things. While these are also symptoms shown by unipolar depression, the presence of hypomanic episodes is vital to lead to a correct diagnosis.


Treating Bipolar Disorder And Moving Forward

Bipolar disorders of both types are generally treated via medication, usually combining mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics. Sometimes these treatments may be combined with antidepressants as the former medications primarily treat manic episodes. However, it is recommended that the use of antidepressants is not long-term.

Apart from medication, psychotherapy is also vital in helping those with bipolar disorder come to a better understanding of themselves and help prepare for future manic or depressive episodes. Often people with bipolar disorder turn to denial to cope, and thus deny themselves medical treatment and further care, especially during adolescence. It becomes vital then that these people find a therapist who can best help understand their situation, and prescribe treatment that is effective and helpful.


While there is still a prevalent stigma against mental health, there is a concerted effort from people all around the world ready to champion the causes of those most vulnerable in society. The best we can do is to remain vigilant and open to giving help to those who need it the most.