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    Types of Bipolar Disorder

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    Bipolar disorder is an illness of which there are two main types: bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. Most people with bipolar disorder are diagnosed with either one or the other of these two types, although there is a third type, cyclothymia, which is a much milder type of bipolar disorder.

    Bipolar I disorder, the type of bipolar disorder I experience, involves episodes of mania, depression and mixed states. Manic states have to last at least one week. This is the more severe type of bipolar disorder and can be extremely disruptive and distressing.

    Some people with Bipolar I will have only manic episodes, although most will also have periods of depression.

    Untreated, manic episodes generally last 3 to 6 months. Depressive episodes last rather longer – 6 to 12 months without treatment.

    Bipolar II disorder is a milder form of bipolar disorder, because it involves episodes of depression and hypomania but not mania. This means that people with this type of bipolar disorder are less likely to engage in very risky behaviour. The more common symptom of bipolar II disorder is depression – these episodes can last for months or even years. Because hypomania tends to be a more productive state than mania, people with this type of bipolar disorder are often considered to be more creative – although creativity can often be seen in people with bipolar I disorder as well.

    Cyclothymia, often called Soft Bipolar, is a form of bipolar disorder in which people experience mild episodes of hypomania and depression – but these episodes don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for either depression or hypomania. These ups and downs are much less severe than the mood swings associated with other forms of bipolar disorder, but can be disruptive to people’s lives nonetheless.