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Bipolar I vs Bipolar II Disorder

It is believed that about 2.5% of the United States population suffers some kind of bipolar disorder (6 million people). Although there are various types of Bipolar Disorder, the more common ones are Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder.

What is Bipolar I Disorder?

To be diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, an individual must have had at least one manic episode and one major depressive episode. It is important to note that the major depressive episode must have occurred either before or after the manic episode.

What is a manic episode?

When individual experiences a manic episode, they may experience some of the following:

  • Poor sleep
  • Engage in risky behaviors
  • Have feelings of euphoria
  • They have a hard time concentrating
  • They are restless
  • Possess an exceptional energy
  • Talk fast about a variety of things
  • More active than usual
  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”

Note: A manic episode can be so extreme/severe, that an individual may need hospital care. When an individual is under a manic episode, it can be extremely hard to get them to calm down and have them reach a reasonable state. Such episode is so intense that it may interfere with an individuals’ daily life. For instance, individuals may go out shopping and spend more than they can afford to spend or engage in high risky behaviors such as sexual indiscretions. However, if such episodes are caused because of alcohol, drugs, or other health conditions, then the episode cannot be officially considered manic.

What is Bipolar II Disorder?

Unlike Bipolar I, Bipolar II does not typically experience severe manic episodes to the point where an individual may require hospital care. Someone who has Bipolar Disorder II, may experience a major depressive episode that lasts more than 2 weeks and at least one hypomanic episode. In Bipolar II, the “up” moods never reach full-blown mania like in Bipolar I.

What are the symptoms of a hypomanic episode?

  • Suddenly moving from one idea to the next
  • An exaggerated self-confidence
  • An increase in energy and a decrease in the need for sleep

What are the symptoms for a depressive episode (includes Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorders)?

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness
  • Suicidal thoughts and death
  • Either a decrease or increase in food consumption
  • Forgetful
  • Have a hard time concentrating
  • Cannot enjoy anything
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Very little energy
  • A decrease in activity levels

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

Although the main cause is not known, it is believed that abnormal physical characteristics of the brain may play a role as well as genetics. If a sibling or a parent is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then an individual is more likely to develop such disorder. However, severe stress, drug or alcohol abuse, may also trigger the development of bipolar disorder.

How is it treated?

  • Medication
    • Mood stabilizers
    • Antipsychotics
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Family-focused Therapy
    • Psychoeducation
    • Interpersonal & Social Rhythm Therapy

What can I do for myself?

  • Know your triggers & learn how to cope with them
  • Get involved with your treatment
    • Be patient & communicate clearly with your healthcare provider
  • Write a diary
    • It may be helpful to keep track of your moods & other experiences to help yourself and your doctors get a better understanding how the treatment given is working
  • Exercise
  • Create an action plan
    • List your emergency contacts & medications
    • Know your symptoms
  • Develop an active daily routine
    • Avoid long period of isolation
    • Have a strict sleep schedule