Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are two principal types of bipolar disorder. Individuals with bipolar disorder have had at least one fully manic episode with episodes of major depression. (At one time, bipolar disorder was called manic depression).

Individuals with bipolar disorder II rarely suffer full-fledged mania. Instead they suffer periods of hypomania (increased levels of energy and impulsiveness that are not as extreme as the symptoms of mania). These hypomanic episodes alternate with episodes of major depression.

A mild form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia involves periods of hypomania and mild depression, with less severe mood swings. Individuals with bipolar disorder II or cyclothymia may be misdiagnosed as having depression alone.

Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally and usually appears between the ages of 15 and 25. The precise cause is unknown, but it occurs more often in relatives of individuals with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms & Signs

The manic phase of bipolar disorder may last from days to months and include the following symptoms:

  • Elevated mood
  • Racing thoughts
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased energy
  • Lack of self-control
  • Inflated self-esteem (delusions of grandeur, false beliefs in special abilities)
  • Over-involvement in activities
  • Reckless behavior
  • Spending sprees
  • Binge eating, drinking and/or drug use
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Tendency to be easily distracted
  • Little need for sleep
  • Easily agitated or irritated
  • Poor temper control

These symptoms of mania are seen with bipolar disorder I. In people with bipolar disorder II, hypomanic episodes involve similar symptoms that are less intense.

The depressed phase of both types of bipolar disorder involves very serious symptoms of major depression. These may include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Fatigue or listlessness
  • Sleep disturbances (e.g., excessive sleepiness or inability to sleep)
  • Eating disturbances
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and/or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Withdrawal from activities that were once enjoyed
  • Persistent thoughts of death

There is a high risk of suicide with bipolar disorder. While in either phase, a person may abuse alcohol or other substances, which can worsen the symptoms. Sometimes there is an overlap between the two phases. Manic and depressive symptoms may occur simultaneously or in quick succession in what is called a mixed state.

Use of recreational drugs may be responsible for some symptoms, though this does not rule out bipolar affective disorder. Drug abuse may itself be a symptom of bipolar disorder.


Choose a better life. Choose recovery.