Bipolar Disorder and its various sub-types are serious illnesses. Each type can interfere significantly with the life of an individual – albeit at varying degrees.

Each of the types is characterised by periods of either mania – excessive highs, hypomania – highs, or depression – low periods. The exact combination of symptoms a patient has will result in a certain diagnosis.

In the worst cases, someone with Bipolar Disorder can have suicidal ideation, or be acting out of character, often dangerously so. In this article, we provide a general overview of the different types of Bipolar Disorder.

While knowing the exact type of Bipolar Disorder someone suffers from isn’t essential, it is useful to know the sub-type – as appropriate treatment can be received.

There are a few different types of Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder (once known as Manic Depression) is a serious mental health condition characterised by intense mood swings. Someone with Bipolar Disorder will experience both highs – known as mania, and lows – known as depression. These periods will often last for weeks, and can cause significant distress. Sometimes, Bipolar Disorder can start as Depression, before exacerbating. The depressive periods of Bipolar feature long-term periods of low moods. During the manic phase, an individual will feel happy, energetic and ambitious – and often act recklessly, or exhibit signs of psychosis. There are different sub-types of Bipolar Disorder, based around the differing characteristics of each. Bipolar Disorder is normally a chronic condition. However, with treatment, the symptoms can be controlled far more, which should result in an improvement in quality of life.

What are the different types of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar I Disorder: This is the most well-known form of Bipolar Disorder – characterised by periods of mania and normally, depression. Mood swings are therefore extreme, and cause significant distress in life. Suicidal ideation during the depressive phase and psychosis during the manic phase is possible.

Bipolar II Disorder: This form of Bipolar Disorder applies to those who have encountered at least one episode of severe depression, while exhibiting symptoms of hypomania, as opposed to mania. Mood swings are still extreme, and this form of the condition also causes significant distress.

Rapid Cycling Bipolar: This form of Bipolar Disorder is characterised by an individual experiencing four or more depressive, manic, hypomanic or mixed episodes within the space of 12 months. Mood can change rapidly – potentially even on the same day. As a result of the symptoms, this form of Bipolar can cause significant distress.

Mixed Bipolar State: Sometimes referred to as Mixed Affective State, this form of Bipolar Disorder sees an individual experience symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously. This causes substantial distress for an individual. Suicidal behaviour is seen as a risk of this condition – due to the toxic mix of low mood and impulsive behaviour occurring together.

Cyclothymia: While viewed as a somewhat milder form of Bipolar Disorder, Cyclothymia is still a serious condition which can have a significant impact on the life of an individual. An individual with Cyclothymia will often have experienced both hypomanic and depressed mood states, but their symptoms aren’t severe enough to be diagnosed with either Bipolar I or Bipolar II. Cyclothymia will sometimes develop into Bipolar Disorder.


While the different forms of Bipolar Disorder largely have similar symptoms, there are minor differences in each. These differences are important, as the particular treatment that is involved with each form differs.

Each form of Bipolar Disorder is difficult to live with, but support and treatment are available. With the right treatment, an improved quality of life is achievable!

See Also

  1. Bipolar Disorder: Everything You Need To Know
  2. What Are The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?
  3. What Are The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
  4. What Are The Causes of Bipolar Disorder?
  5. How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
  6. How Can Bipolar Disorder be Treated?
  7. What is the Prognosis for Bipolar Disorder?
  8. 10 Tips for Living With Bipolar Disorder

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