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Understanding the Two Types of Bipolar Disorder

May 02, 2024
Understanding the Two Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder varies widely between patients, but for clinical purposes, it’s helpful to classify both the primary types as well as the subtypes of the condition as an aid to both patients and practitioners.

Bipolar disorder varies widely between patients, but for clinical purposes, it’s helpful to classify both the primary types as well as the subtypes of the condition as an aid to both patients and practitioners.

Once referred to as manic depression, there are many other terms used for the extreme swings in mood as well as the variety of patterns that can manifest within the disorder. It can be confusing for patients and physicians alike. 

At KETA Medical Center, we use low-dose ketamine infusions to provide an effective off-label treatment for the symptoms of bipolar disorders. It’s a new and exciting way to reduce the impact of bipolar disorders without the side effects of conventional medications. 

Let’s look at the two primary types of bipolar disorder to help our patients gain a better understanding of the condition itself. 

An overview of bipolar disorder

Describing bipolar disorder as a mental health condition characterized by mood swings between highs (mania) and lows (depression) oversimplifies the reality of the condition for many of its patients. 

It’s rarely as simple as a pendulum-like swing between highs and lows. As research identified distinct patterns, the need for tighter definitions within the disorder became necessary. 

Understanding the two types of bipolar disorder

The two main types of bipolar disorder, bipolar I and bipolar II, emerged because of a need to recognize these distinct patterns. It’s not a grading of severity — bipolar I is not “worse” than bipolar II. Instead, they’re two separate diagnoses, identifying two different but related conditions. 

The types identify certain patterns of moods over time upon which assign their categorization. 

Bipolar I

A common definition of bipolar I includes at least one episode of mania, described as a period of abnormally elevated changes in mood, emotions, energy, or activity levels. It may be preceded or followed by an episode of major depression or a period of hypomania, showing less severe symptoms than mania. 

For diagnosis as bipolar I, the time you’re in a manic state usually lasts a week or longer. It’s common for mania to be bracketed by depression, but not everyone shows this pattern. That’s one reason why the term “manic depression” was retired. 

Bipolar II

Featuring at least one major depressive episode along with at least one period of hypomania that never develops into full mania from a diagnostic perspective. It isn’t a mild form of bipolar I but rather a distinct type of bipolar disorder. 

Periods of major depression tend to last longer with bipolar II, which can add substantial repercussions of its own. 

If there’s a milder form of bipolar disorder, it would be cyclothymia, which includes a period of two years or more with periods of both hypomania and depression, though not severe enough to warrant a major depression diagnosis. Cyclothymia can develop into bipolar I or II. 

If you’re struggling with any form of bipolar disorder, it may be time to meet with the ketamine specialists at KETA Medical Clinic. Ketamine is a fast-acting game-changer for many mood disorders. 

Contact any of our four locations by phone or online to schedule your one-on-one consultation with our team. Book your visit today.