Are there different types of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a complex disease characterized by drastic and unexpected changes in a person’s mood. Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one type of bipolar disorder. In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are four types, each of which is defined by the presence, frequency, and intensity of emotions.

What is an emotional plot?

People with bipolar disorder experience a period of unusually strong changes in mood, energy and activity levels, and abnormal behaviors. These different periods are called “emotional episodes.”

Mainly divided into three emotional stages:

  1. Manic: During a manic episode, you may feel very energetic and happy, sometimes even unusually angry or irritable. You feel that you have extra energy to burn. This period of time lasts at least one week.
  2. Hypomania: A less severe manic episode is called hypomania. In addition to being less extreme, hypomanic episodes are also shorter-they usually only last a few days.
  3. Depression: A major depressive episode is a period of at least two weeks during which you will experience five or more depressive symptoms almost most of the day.

Some people can even have symptoms of depression and mania at the same time (or one after another). This is called a mixed plot.

Types of bipolar disorder

APA classifies bipolar disorder based on the duration and severity of these emotional episodes. According to APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), your doctor may diagnose four different types of bipolar disorder:

  1. Bipolar Type I Disorder
  2. Bipolar Disorder II
  3. Circulatory disorder
  4. Bipolar not specified otherwise (NOS)

Bipolar Type I Disorder

To be diagnosed with type I bipolar disorder, you must have experienced one or more episodes of mania. These episodes must last at least 7 days or they are so severe that you will need to be hospitalized immediately.

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Although some people also experience depression or hypomanic episodes, you can be diagnosed without these symptoms.

bipolar disorder

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by a combination of hypomanic and depressive episodes.In addition, to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder II, you must no way Experienced a full-blown manic episode.

Biphasic II is more than just a milder form of biphasic I disorder. This is a very different disease.

Circulatory disorder

This mood disorder is also called cyclic mood disorder and is considered a milder chronic bipolar disorder.

Unlike bipolar type I and type II disorders, the level of cyclic mood is not high enough to meet the criteria for mania or major depressive episodes. However, these symptoms must be present for at least 2 years and the asymptomatic period exceeds 2 months.

Although emotional episodes are not as extreme as bipolar disorder, seeking help is essential. These symptoms not only interfere with your daily life, but also increase your risk of developing bipolar I or bipolar II disorder in the future.

Bipolar not specified otherwise (NOS)

This type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed when you have a manic or depressive episode that does not fall into other bipolar categories.

For example, you may cycle rapidly between manic and depressive episodes. Or, you may have a hypomanic episode without a depressive episode.


Among all mental health disorders, bipolar disorder may be one of the most frequently misdiagnosed diseases. Sometimes it is not clear which bipolar disorder your symptoms fit.

Bipolar disorder can also be difficult to diagnose because it shares symptoms with many other diseases. Here are some mental health conditions that are often mistaken for bipolar disorder, and how you can distinguish them.

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  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Both diseases have overlapping symptoms. However, although ADHD is a chronic disease, bipolar disorder is sporadic. In addition, bipolar disorder only affects your mood, while ADHD can affect your concentration and behavior.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): The main difference between these conditions is the length of mood swings. The bipolar mood cycle can last for several weeks or months, while BPD mood swings can last for hours or days. In addition, BPD mood swings are usually triggered by certain things.
  • Clinical depression: Although bipolar disorder includes symptoms of mania, clinical depression is unipolar, which means there is no “high”. Doctors may initially misdiagnose bipolar disorder as clinical depression, because hypomanic episodes are often overlooked.
  • Schizoaffective disorder: When you have schizoaffective disorder, symptoms of psychosis will appear suddenly and have nothing to do with mood changes. For bipolar disorder, psychotic symptoms only appear during emotional episodes.

The correct diagnosis is an important step in obtaining the correct treatment. To increase your chances of getting an accurate diagnosis, the most important thing you can do is to tell your doctor about all the symptoms you are experiencing.


Any treatment for bipolar disorder usually involves medication and some form of psychotherapy.


Drugs are the key to stabilizing most bipolar disorder. However, the type of medicine your doctor prescribes depends on your symptoms and their severity.

For example, if you have episodes of mania and hypomania, your doctor may prescribe a mood stabilizer. Examples of mood stabilizers include:

On the other hand, if you are primarily suffering from depression, you may be prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), or Lexapro ( Escitalopram). Because antidepressants can trigger manic episodes, they are usually prescribed together with mood stabilizers.

If you develop psychotic symptoms during a manic or depressive episode, your doctor may prescribe atypical antipsychotics. If your psychotic symptoms occur during a depressive episode, your doctor may prescribe one of the following four FDA-approved atypical antipsychotics for the treatment of bipolar depression:

Vraylar and Seroquel are the only two antipsychotic drugs approved by the FDA to treat psychotic symptoms that occur during manic episodes.

It may take a while to find the right biphasic drug. Due to the ongoing emotional cycle, most people with bipolar disorder take more than one medication.


Depending on your situation, psychotherapy may also be needed. In fact, research shows that psychotherapy combined with medication may be more beneficial than medication alone.

Psychotherapy can help relieve the stress associated with extreme emotions. It can also help you improve your ability to manage relationships with others.

Psychotherapy effective for bipolar disorder includes:

As with medications, there is no single treatment that everyone will find useful.

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If you or someone you know has symptoms of bipolar disorder, be sure to consult your doctor. Your doctor may want to rule out any underlying physical health problems that may cause you to develop symptoms.

Your doctor may also refer you to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional for evaluation. Be sure to talk openly about your behavior, emotions, and any other things you notice. Open and honest communication is essential to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.


Are there different types of bipolar disorder?
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