What are the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?

People who suffer from bipolar disorder suffer from wide-ranging symptoms. Bipolar episodes give them fits of mania where they may feel invulnerable – only to be brought crashing down by major depressive feelings that can occur at any time with no discernible cause.

These episodes can be frequent or rare, which can make the condition difficult to diagnose. Symptoms generally first occur in the late teens or early 20s.

Experts have identified the following forms of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I – The most severe form of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I is characterized by a person having at least one manic episode preceded or followed by a hypomanic (less than manic) or major depressive period. In extreme cases, the mania can lead to a break from reality.
  • Bipolar II – To be diagnosed as having Bipolar II, a person must have an occurrence of major depression, and one hypomanic episode without an episode of full mania. This is type is less severe than Bipolar I, but can still affect a person’s ability to function on a daily basis.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder – This is an even milder form of bipolar disorder in which the extreme mood swings don’t manifest as severely as they do with Bipolar I or Bipolar II. The highs do not reach a full manic level and the depressive effects are also milder and generally last for shorter periods of time than with Bipolar I or II.
  • Unspecified Bipolar Disorder – If a person suffers rapid and wide shifts in mood but not to the extremes defined in the other classes of bipolar disorder, the patient is usually diagnosed with an unspecified bipolar disorder.

While researchers and scientists debate the possible reasons for bipolar mood changes, they agree on certain risk factors such as a family history of mood disorders.

Treating Patients with a Bipolar Disorder

Successfully treating people suffering from a bipolar disorder typically involves a two-pronged effort: medication coupled with psychotherapy. Common medications used are a combination of mood stabilizers and antidepressants. In some cases, anti-anxiety medications or anti-psychotics may also be recommended, although these can require a period of trial-and-error to find the right balance that will curtail a patient’s symptoms. Don’t despair if several medications have been tried but not worked; there are many potential combinations available and each can take a month or so before they take effect. In the meanwhile, talk therapy can address a patient’s concerns.

If you or someone you love suffers from extreme mood changes, whether crippling or not, get help. It’s the first step toward feeling better. If you reside in Connecticut, reach out to Psy-Visions by calling (203) 405-1745 or request an appointment now and take the first step toward a better, more balanced tomorrow.

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