Bipolar I disorder is the most common type of bipolar disorder. It is characterized by manic episodes, with or without symptoms of depression, that can last for a week or longer and be so severe that hospitalization is required. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by the shift between less severe hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes, cyclothymic disorder. This type of bipolar disorder is characterized by manic episodes, with or without symptoms of depression.
Depressive episodes in bipolar II disorder can last longer than two weeks and are usually preceded or followed by a hypomanic episode. Hypomanic episodes are less severe than manic episodes and can cause significant distress and difficulty in life. Bipolar disorder can occur at any age, but it is usually diagnosed in adolescence or early 20s. Symptoms may vary from person to person, and symptoms may vary over time.
Mania and hypomania are two different types of episodes, but they have the same symptoms. Mania is more severe than hypomania and causes more noticeable problems at work, school, and social activities, as well as difficulties in relationships. Mania can also trigger a break with reality (psychosis) and require hospitalization. In addition to mania and depression, other characteristics such as anxious distress, melancholy, psychosis, or other may be present in people with bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.
The timing of symptoms may include diagnostic labels such as mixed or rapid cycles. Symptoms can also change during pregnancy or with the seasons. Children and teens may have episodes other than major depression, manic, or hypomanic, but the pattern may vary from that of adults with bipolar disorder. It's often difficult to tell if these are normal ups and downs, the results of stress or trauma, or signs of a mental health problem other than bipolar disorder.
Getting treatment from a mental health professional with experience with bipolar disorder can help you manage your symptoms. Determining whether intensive psychotherapeutic intervention in the early stages of bipolar disorder can prevent or limit its full-fledged occurrence is an important area of ongoing research.