Types of Bipolar Disorder

Like many other conditions, Bipolar Disorder comes in more than one form.  It ranges from Bipolar I to a mild form of the disorder known as Cyclothymic Disorder. 

What is Cyclothymic Disorder?

Cyclothymic Disorder is the mildest form of Bipolar.  The mood swings alternate between mild depression and hypomania, which is a mild form of mania.  While it is not as severe as the other forms of Bipolar Disorder, people with Cyclothymic Disorder generally have symptoms of episodes lasting for longer periods of time and sometimes with no break between.  It can continue as Cyclothymic Disorder, or can develop into Bipolar I or Bipolar II

What is Bipolar I?

Episodes of both depression and mania are common in Bipolar I.  Occasionally only the manic episodes occur.  Bipolar I differs from other forms of Bipolar Disorder by the severity and duration of the episodes, especially the manic phase.  Individuals who have this form of Bipolar Disorder can often require hospitalisation during manic episodes due to their behaviour being deemed as a risk to others as well as the individual themselves.

What is Bipolar II?

Generally people with Bipolar II Disorder have severe episodes of depression alternating with episodes of hypomania.  Although it is not as severe as Bipolar I Disorder the suicide rate is higher than Bipolar I due to depressive episodes occurring more frequently than hypomanic or manic episodes. 

What is a mixed episode?

A mixed episode, which can occur as part of all three forms of Bipolar Disorder, means the individual experiences an episode where symptoms of both mania and depression are present.  The individual can have trouble sleeping, be feeling ‘low’ or depressed but at the same time have high energy levels, rapid speech and disorganised thinking.  People who have mixed episodes can get very frustrated during the episode, as well as experience confusion as to what it is they’re actually feeling.  A mixed episode has the highest rate of suicide amongst episodes experienced by people with Bipolar Disorder, especially when the individual is extremely depressed but has high energy levels and is irritable and frustrated.

What is rapid cycling?

The average number of episodes an individual with Bipolar Disorder experiences over a lifetime is between 8 and 10.  If an individual experiences rapid cycling within their disorder they can have up to 4 episodes a year which is much more frequent than most. 

Author: Rebecca Millar

Rebecca is a freelance PR and Communications Specialist, Author, Science Writer, and Star Trek fan with a fondness for caffeine and all things geek. When she's not getting her comms specialist on, she's usually introverting Trekkie style, studying her Masters in Astronomy, or at her local fire brigade where she volunteers as a firefighter.

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