Bipolar 1 Disorder and Bipolar 2 Disorder: What Are the Differences?

Understanding bipolar disorder

Most people have emotional ups and downs from time to time. But if you have a brain condition called bipolar disorder, your feelings can reach abnormally high or low levels. Sometimes you may feel immensely excited or energetic. Other times, you may find yourself sinking into a deep depression. Some of these emotional peaks and valleys can last for weeks or months.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder:

  • bipolar 1 disorder
  • bipolar 2 disorder
  • cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia)
  • other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders

Bipolar 1 and 2 disorders are more common than the other types of bipolar disorder. Read on to learn how these two types are alike and different.

Bipolar 1 vs. bipolar 2

All types of bipolar disorder are characterized by episodes of extreme highs and extreme lows. The highs are known as manic episodes. The lows are known as depressive episodes.

The main difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 disorders lies in the severity of the manic episodes caused by each type. The depressive episodes are similar between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 disorder. But with bipolar 1 disorder, the mania is more severe than it is with bipolar disorder 2. Bipolar 2 causes something called hypomania, which is essentially a less severe form of mania. Hypomanic behaviors might be considered atypical for a person, but maybe not abnormal. Manic behaviors, on the other hand, are more extreme and would typically be considered abnormal.


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