What types of Bipolar Disorder are there?

Bipolar disorder is a term used to describe a group of mental health problems. It’s important to seek help from a highly qualified mental health professional so you have a good understanding of your symptoms and type of bipolar disorder.

Types of bipolar disorder

  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar II disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Other specified bipolar related disorder
  • Unspecified bipolar and related disorder
  • Substance or drug induced bipolar and related disorder
  • Bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition

Bipolar I disorder

– depressive and manic episodes

At least one manic episode needed for diagnosis. Major depressive episodes are typical, but not needed for diagnosis.

Bipolar I affects men and women equally.

Bipolar II disorder –

depressive and hypomanic episodes (less extreme highs than Bipolar I)

At least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode needed for diagnosis. There is no instance of a manic episode. Bipolar II is more common in women.

Cyclothymic disorder

– hypomanic and depressive symptoms

For at two years (one year in children and adolescents) an individual experiences multiple periods of hypomanic symptoms that don’t meet all the formal criteria for a hypomania or major depression diagnosis. Generally, mood changes are less severe than in those experiencing bipolar I and II disorder, however, cyclothymia still has a significant effect on how someone functions and copes.

Other specified bipolar and related disorder

These are bipolar-like disorders that don’t meet full diagnostic criteria for the above-mentioned disorders because of shorter duration or severity of illness. They can include:

  • short-duration hypomanic episodes (two-three days) and major depressive episodes
  • hypomanic episodes with insufficient symptoms and major depressive episodes
  • hypomanic episode without previous major depressive episode
  • short-duration cyclothymia (less than two years).

Unspecified bipolar and related disorder

Symptoms of bipolar and the related disorders that don’t meet full diagnostic criteria for any of the previous categories.This diagnosis might be used in emergency room settings when there is insufficient information.

Substance or drug induced bipolar and related disorder

A noticeable and persistent disturbance in mood, with high or irritable mood. It can occur with or without depressed mood and distinctly reduces pleasure in all or almost all activities. There needs to be evidence that the symptoms developed after substance use or withdrawal. The substances may be alcohol, hallucinogens, sedatives, amphetamine, cocaine and others.

Bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition

This may be diagnosed when the symptoms of bipolar disorder are present and there is strong evidence of consequences of another medical condition, e.g. excessive thyroid activity (hyperthyroidism).

Co-morbidities (other medical conditions) that can occur with bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder can also have a higher risk of other conditions such as:

  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • anxiety
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • suicide.

Sometimes, these problems need to be managed together with bipolar disorder. It’s important to tell your doctor about any other problems and symptoms you are experiencing.

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