Understanding the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

Apr 01, 2023
Understanding the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder affects millions of people, but it doesn't affect everyone the same way. There are several types of bipolar disorder, and understanding how they differ can play an essential role in your treatment.

Nearly 3% of American adults — about 7.2 million people — have bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar disorder affects people of all ages, genders, and walks of life, and without proper treatment, its impacts can be devastating.

Once known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme highs (mania phase) followed by extreme lows (depressive phase). But in truth, bipolar disorder is far more complex, and in some people, the symptoms can be less distinct.

The Marcann Group offers compassionate and effective treatment solutions for people with bipolar disorder, tailoring each treatment plan for optimal success. In this post, our team reviews the types of bipolar disorder to help readers at our Glendale and Phoenix, Arizona, practices understand more about this complex but treatable condition.

Bipolar I

In this type of bipolar disorder, manic episodes are severe, lasting at least a week or requiring hospitalization. In some cases, severe mania may trigger a psychotic episode. 

The manic phase is often followed by a major depressive phase that persists for 14 days or more. However, some people with this type of bipolar disorder experience the manic phase without a subsequent phase of severe depression.

Bipolar II

People with this type of bipolar disorder have both manic and depressive phases, but the manic phase is less severe compared with bipolar I. Sometimes, medical professionals refer to this type of mania as hypomania. If you have bipolar II, you may have a severe depressive phase, either before or after the manic phase.

Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is a type of bipolar disorder defined in part by the severity of your symptoms and their duration. Specifically, cyclothymic disorder in adults is defined as two or more years of alternating cycles of hypomania and depression. In children, the cycle is defined as one year or more. Cyclothymic disorder typically features less severe symptoms of hypomania and depression compared to type I and type II.

Other types

Sometimes, a person may have symptoms of mania and depression that don’t fall into these types of bipolar disorder. For instance, symptoms may be triggered by substance abuse or by underlying diseases. These types of bipolar disorder are referred to as “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.”


Within these types, there can be additional variations based on the pattern of symptoms or other criteria. For instance, some people with bipolar I or II experience more significant symptoms during the fall and winter. That variation is sometimes referred to as a seasonal variation, but it’s essential to note that it is not the same as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Rapid cycling is another variation. If you have four or more episodes of symptomatic behavior during a 12-month period, you might have bipolar I or II with rapid cycling. The pattern of cycling can occur over a matter of months, weeks, or even days.

Finally, it’s worth noting that bipolar II is not a milder type of bipolar I. Bipolar I and bipolar II are completely different types of bipolar disorder with different features and presentations. Each can be equally devastating in terms of its effects on your life. 

Getting help for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder affects people in different ways, and the symptoms can change over time. Our team is skilled in developing effective and individualized treatment plans, so you can feel better and thrive.

To learn more about bipolar treatment options and how we can help, book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at The Marcann Group today.