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Types of Bipolar Disorder

Learning to recognize the early symptoms of your manic and depressive episodes can help, because early treatment can reduce their impact on your daily life. If bipolar disorder is not treated, it can lead to serious illness, the need for longer treatment, and even death due to suicide or reckless or risky behavior. It is also important that family members of a person who has bipolar disorder receive supportive counseling because bipolar disorder greatly impacts the entire family.

Bipolar I

A person who has bipolar I experiences episodes of depression along with at least one manic episode. Depression may not be triggered by a stressful life event. You may not be able to identify why you started feeling sad, tired, or indecisive. The depression may last for a short time or for months. You may then go back to feeling normal for a time, or you may go right into a manic episode. During mania, you will feel less need to sleep, will have high energy, and will sometimes feel irritable. Mania can also cause you to feel invincible, which can lead to dangerous behaviors (such as driving too fast or spending too much money).

Bipolar II

A person who has bipolar II experiences depression just as in bipolar I. However, the episodes of mania are far less severe (hypomania). Bipolar II is more common in women and possibly more common during the period right after a woman has had a baby (postpartum period).

Mixed bipolar disorder.

In mixed bipolar disorder, episodes of depression and mania rapidly alternate throughout the day for at least one week. Symptoms include sadness, euphoria, and irritability throughout the day. Other symptoms can include agitation, lack of sleep, appetite changes, and possibly, thoughts of suicide. This makes the disorder challenging to treat and very frustrating for the person and those around the person to deal with. Mixed bipolar disorder can lead to hospitalization if daily functioning becomes impaired.

Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder

A person who has rapid-cycling bipolar disorder experiences at least four episodes of depression, mania, or both within a 12-month period. You may go directly from an episode of depression to an episode of mania, or you may have a short time lapse between the two moods. The mood swings are the same as with other bipolar subtypes. The frequency with which the mood swings occur distinguishes rapid-cycling bipolar disorder from other bipolar subtypes.