Hi, dear reader. Today we are going to learn about the different types of bipolar disorder. Two and a half percent, or six million people, have some form of bipolar disorder. It is easy to think that bipolar disorder is bipolar disorder is bipolar disorder but there are differences between some of us. Different though they may be they all include a degree of mania and depression. So, let’s dive in.
Bipolar I the most severe form of the illness. In this form we experience extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression). What makes this different than the others is the extremity of our mania and depression.
Bipolar II is a milder form of the illness with less severe depression and hypomania. Hypomania is a milder form of mania. It can feel quite good. Our mood is elevated and we have more energy but it is not out of control. The problem with hypomania is it can turn into a more dangerous mania or a deep depression without warning. Bipolar II’s hypomania is unpredictable. It can mean either this hypomania or deep depressions.
Cyclothymic disorder includes both hypomania and depression. The identifying characteristics are that the hypomania is not as full as in bipolar II. In cyclothymic disorder there is an alternating of hypomania and depression. The depression is not as deep or long lasting as in the other types of bipolar disorder discussed above.
Rapid cycling is exactly as it sounds. To qualify as rapid cycling we must have four or more episodes in a year. These episodes may be yearly or even in a single day. (I’ve experienced them in a matter of hours). These weekly or daily or hourly episodic changes are referred as ultra rapid cycling. Psychiatrist are still debating if this is a valid diagnosis related to bipolar disorder. There may be a pattern of rapid cycling that appears anytime during our bipolar illness. The patterns are likely to occur later in the course of our illness. Women are more likely than men to be rapid cyclers. A pattern of rapid cycling may lead to more severe depressions and suicide attempts.
Mixed features of our illness means we experience a mixing of our episodes. We mix highs and lows together, in single episode. Those of us with mixed features can also experience mania and depression in quick succession.
Here are a few facts about bipolar disorder you may not know:
Bipolar disorder’s onset it generally around twenty five and affects both men and women equally. It affects all races, ages, ethnic groups and social classes. Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. The life span of someone living with bipolar disorder is a little more than nine years shorter than otherwise undiagnosed. One in twelve people in the general public will consider suicide in their lifetime. That number increases tremendously to eighty percent for those of us living with bipolar disorder. When both parents are affected with our illness, the chances of the child also living with the illness maybe as high as seventy five percent. Seventeen percent of people living with bipolar disorder will take their own life making it the number one cause of premature death of those of us living with the illness. That number makes me sad. Comorbid anxiety disorders double the likelihood of a suicide attempt. Men experience mania more often than women, who experience depression at a greater rate.
I hope the above information can clear up a little bit of the confusion about the different types of bipolar disorder. It is a bit complicated. As always seek a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.