Knowing the Subtypes: How Does Bipolar I Differentiate Itself From Bipolar II?

bipolar mental health

Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects millions of people, many of whom go undiagnosed. If you’re struggling with emotional peaks, valleys, and mood swings, it may be time to learn about the most common types of bipolar disorder and the differences between them.

Bipolar Disorder: What Is It and How Does It Affect Patients?

Bipolar disorder affects nearly three percent of American adults., with many seeking treatment for bipolar 1. It comes in various forms, all of which are characterized by severe mood swings. Emotional highs are referred to as manic episodes, while the lows are known as depressive episodes. We’ll go into these in greater detail below.

Manic Highs

Bipolar mania can be so severe that it keeps a patient from going about their daily life. Many make irrational decisions, engage in risky behaviors, and do things they’d never do otherwise. Other symptoms of bipolar mania include:

  • Disrupted sleep.
  • Restlessness and agitation.
  • Euphoria.
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks.
  • Exceptionally high energy levels.

While they’re radically different from the extreme lows, manic episodes can be just as devastating to sufferers and their family members.

Depressive Lows

The depressive side of bipolar disorder can look much like clinical depression, with persistent feelings of hopelessness and a loss of enjoyment in activities once found pleasurable. Other symptoms of bipolar depression are:

  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • A lack of focus and direction.
  • Irritability.
  • Dietary changes (eating too much or not enough).
  • Sudden weight gain or loss.
  • Self-harming thoughts and actions.

The primary difference between bipolar 1 and 2 is in the severity of symptoms. Otherwise, the two conditions are similar.

Bipolar 1

To be diagnosed with bipolar 1, a person must have had one or more manic episodes with or without depressive periods. Bipolar 1 is characterized by severe mania, which can require hospitalization in some cases.

Bipolar 2

As previously mentioned, the symptoms of bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 are similar and the most significant difference is in their severity. While both conditions may bring depressive episodes, mania is slightly less severe in bipolar 2.

Another crucial difference between these bipolar disorders is that, while bipolar 2 typically involves major depressive episodes, bipolar 1 does not. The symptoms of bipolar 2 are rarely serious enough to require hospitalization.

Medication-Based Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Both types of bipolar disorder can be managed with medication. Mood stabilizers, for instance, may prevent manic and depressive episodes when used as directed for the long term, while other medicines can treat symptoms as they arise. By working with a doctor who can determine which medicines work best for your situation, you can live a fuller, healthier life.

Therapy for Bipolar Disorder Type 1 and 2

Individual and group therapy sessions are an integral part of bipolar disorder treatment, as they help patients manage symptoms and learn new coping skills. Other therapies, including holistic treatment, can help patients improve their diet, get better sleep, and become more mindful.

These treatments, when combined and applied properly, help patients identify triggers, recognize the signs of impending manic and depressive episodes, and deal with symptoms as they arise.

Getting Help for Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2

Bipolar disorder cannot be cured, only managed—and that’s why prompt, thorough treatment is essential. With the right therapy, you’ll find your triggers, manage episodes when they occur, and learn how to live with the disorder comfortably and safely.

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