Close relationships always have ups and downs. Sometimes, though, we may worry that the fluctuations are extreme. If mood changes in your loved one seem more severe than normal, bipolar disorder may be the culprit.
In this article we’ll share everything you need to know about bipolar disorder types and how to spot them. Understanding bipolar disorder can help you navigate the highs and lows that you or another person experience.
Bipolar disorder definition
Helping your loved one through a mental illness starts with learning the definition of bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes shifts in mood, activity, concentration and daily functioning. Bipolar disorder was previously called manic-depression.
There are three bipolar disorder types.
Bipolar I: This disorder is characterized by manic episodes that last seven or more days or by manic symptoms that are intense enough to require hospitalization. This bipolar disorder type can also include depressive episodes of at least two weeks.
Bipolar II: This mental illness is characterized by alternating depressive and hypomanic episodes. Hypomanic episodes are less severe than mania and do not require hospital care.
Cyclothymic disorder: This disorder is characterized by periods of depressive and manic symptoms. These symptomatic periods are not severe enough to be considered episodes. However, the duration of the mood fluctuations is longer, lasting at least two years.
While these three bipolar disorder types are distinct, they share common symptoms. Spotting signs of bipolar disorder in yourself or a loved one is easy when you know what to look for.
Signs of bipolar disorder
Consult this list when you’re asking yourself if the behaviors you see might warrant a formal diagnosis. Of course, you’ll need to reach out to a mental health or medical professional for this.
Feeling depressed, hopeless, sad, worthless, angry or lonely
Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable
Loss of appetite
Difficulty sleeping enough
Sleeping too much
Low energy levels
Failing to complete responsibilities
Feeling excessive guilt
Inability to make decisions, even for simple things
If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one attempting suicide, reach out for help now and call local mental health services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If someone is planning to take action soon, call 911 immediately.
Feeling upbeat, jittery or wired
High energy levels
Feelings of euphoria
Needed little to no sleep
Constantly talking and having trouble focusing to listen
Having trouble sitting still
Racing, uncontrollable thoughts
Being easily distracted
Starting many projects or one big project
Making impulsive decisions without much forethought (like making big purchases quickly, traveling on a whim, moving, signing up for something, etc.)
Engaging in risky or dangerous behaviors
There are many overlapping mania and hypomania signs, but the biggest difference is that mania will result in hospitalization.
For example, someone may decide to do a large house project during a manic episode and work for days without sleep. After collapsing from exhaustion, medical care may be necessary.
How bipolar disorder can affect a loved one
Moodiness: All bipolar disorder types are characterized by extreme mood changes. While we all experience strong emotions at times, your loved one’s moods may feel overwhelming. Keep in mind that even though it may be exhausting for you, it’s even tougher for the person affected by bipolar disorder.
High-energy episodes: Bipolar disorder can be difficult to treat because the manic or hypomanic sensations are pleasurable. People often feel happy, productive and social during these periods and forgo therapy or medications. It will be important to keep the full picture of the disorder in mind during these times.
Long periods of depression: Depressive episodes can feel endless when you’re in the middle of them. In fact, people who have bipolar are commonly first diagnosed with major depression. Inspire hope in your loved one because the sadness will not last forever and can be managed with treatment.
Take charge of life’s ups and downs
If you’re struggling to deal with bipolar disorder in a loved one, there are ways you can help. The first step: get involved with professional treatment. The most effective way to manage bipolar disorder and heal symptoms is through psychotherapy, medication and lifestyle support according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Access the care your loved one deserves with Pyramid Online Counseling. Serving children, adolescents and adults, you can find care for the whole family. Get a handle on life’s ups and downs and get help with Pyramid Online Counseling today.