Learn about the Three Major Types of Bipolar Depression

Learn about the Three Major Types of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression is a mental disorder in which an individual bounces back and forth between depressive episodes and periods of elevated mood or mania. The individual course of the disorder can be quite varied and unpredictable. Bipolar episodes can last only a few days or persist for several months. The episodes can complete several cycles each year, or a single cycle can itself last several years.

Major Types of Bipolar Depression

In parsing out the different types of bipolar depression, it’s often the severity of each mood that is the primary consideration:

  • Type-1 Bipolar (with hypermania): This type involves a more extreme version of mania, sometimes called hypermania, that generally lasts between one week and a few months. For these individuals, the mania is marked by high energy, racing thoughts and speech, an inflated sense of self, reduced need for sleep, and reckless behavior. These individuals may be drawn into goal-oriented activities, but they may also be easily distracted. Moreover, an elevated mood does not guarantee a personable attitude, as the person is also more likely to be irritable.
  • Type-2 Bipolar (with hypomania): This course of bipolar disorder is defined by hypomania. Hypomania has all the same general traits as hypermania, just not as severe. Typically, the severity is determined by looking at the occupational and social disruption that is caused, but there are other factors as well. If the inflated sense of self or other symptoms lead to delusions or other signs of psychosis, for example, it’s automatically considered full-blown mania. Moreover, hypomania may persist for as few as four days but may still last several months.
  • Cyclothymia: This type of bipolar depression is characterized by milder forms of both mania and depression—so mild, in fact, that they fail to meet the criteria for a manic or depressive episode. Yet, the swings between depressed and manic mood are frequent and persistent and cannot be explained by another condition or mental disorder. Individuals will go multiple years without experiencing a period of normal mood that lasts longer than two months.

Partial or Specified Diagnosis

Apart from these major categories of bipolar disorder, there are many ways to describe bipolar symptoms that do not meet the full diagnostic criteria. This may be due to something as simple as an insufficient history: A clinician may be able to flag short-duration mood swings or a manic episode that has not yet been accompanied by a depressive episode. These partial diagnoses frequently meet the full criteria later on but are still crucial for early therapy interventions and better outcomes overall.

Even when a full range of symptoms are present, the diagnosis must first consider whether they’ve been induced by substance use, medications, or a general medical condition. The mental health professional must also evaluate whether a different disorder (depression, ADHD, borderline personality) is a better fit for the presentation of symptoms. For complicated cases, a “rule-out” diagnosis may be noted when it’s not yet possible to distinguish between different disorders.

Get Help with Bipolar Depression in Utah

No matter what type of bipolar depression you may have—or even if your symptoms are not indicative of this mental disorder—it’s critical that you seek help for any serious signs of mental illness. Rather than trying to find answers on your own, work with a qualified mental health provider. This is the only way to know precisely what you’re facing and what treatment plan, if any, is likely to provide mental health benefits.

Marcus Pickett

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