This condition comes in many different types, which each have slightly different symptoms and varying degrees of severity. Based on the type of the condition, treatments may be different.
Main Types of Bipolar Disorder
The main types of the disease are:
- Bipolar I Disorder: This is the most severe form of the illness. Episodes of depression and mania are very intense in this type of the disease. Moods may be normal in between episodes and episodes often occur when seasons are changing. During manic episodes this type of the condition, delusions and hallucinations may occur.
This type of the disease can infringe on everyday activities and life for sufferers. Mania symptoms include:
- decreased need for sleep
- feelings of grandiosity
- racing thoughts and fast, pressured speech
- tendency to be easily distracted
- tendency to behave recklessly.
Depressive symptoms include:
- changes in weight
- decrease in energy level
- feelings of despair, sometimes accompanied by uncontrollable crying
- feelings of irritability
- suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
- withdrawal from normal activities.
- Bipolar II Disorder: This type is less severe than other types of the disease but still involves episodes of mania and depression. However, mania is termed hypomania in this type of the illness, as these episodes occur without psychotic symptoms like delusions and hallucinations.
In between episodes, moods may be normal during, and mood changes may occur when seasons change.
Symptoms of hypomania and depression episodes are similar to episode symptoms of Bipolar I Disorder. The main difference of this type of the condition is the lack of psychotic symptoms during episodes.
Hypomania does not cause the impaired functioning that the mania of other types of the illness can cause, and this variety of the condition typically does not require hospitalization. Also, excess energy may occur during hypomanic episodes.
- Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS): Because the condition can vary greatly from person to person, not all cases fit neatly into a category. This type refers to people with bipolar disorder whose symptoms do not fall into any one category.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: Cyclothymic Disorder patients suffer from a less severe type of the illness. Episodes are shorter and much less severe than episodes of sufferers from other types of the condition. Depression is mild and mood is only slightly elevated during hypomanic periods.
Symptoms are not severe enough to interfere with daily life, and no psychotic features, such as delusions or hallucinations, are present. In some cases, this type of the condition can become more severe later in life, but this is not always the case.
- Mixed Bipolar Disorder: Sufferers of this type of the disease experience mania and depression at the same time, which can be quite dangerous.
- Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder: Those with this type of the condition experience four or more episodes in one year. Some people may even have multiple episodes in a single week or a single day in severe cases. This type of the disease is very severe and can lead to suicide attempts or severe depression.
Women are more likely than men to experience this type of the disease, and the condition often happens in late stages of the illness. Some researchers believe that antidepressants can lengthen this type of the disease, but these theories have not yet been proven.
About.com (2007). Types of Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved July 18, 2007, from the About.com Web site: http://bipolar.about.com/b/a/257079.htm.
Bipolar.com (2007). Types of Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved July 18, 2007, from the Bipolar.com Web site: http://www.bipolar.com/what_is_bipolar/