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What Are the Different Categories of Bipolar Disorder?

August 9, 2014 Leave a comment

A diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Dr. Thomas Gazda has more than 30 years of experience in treating psychiatric patients. Since 1998, Thomas Gazda, MD, has led dozens of investigational studies on various psychiatric conditions and their treatments. One of Dr. Thomas Gazda’s main research interests is bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme shifts in mood that can last for extended periods and interfere with a person’s ability to function normally. Moods can range from intense depression that renders the patient unable to get out of bed to manic episodes that cause the patient to have delusions of grandeur or engage in risky behavior. This condition falls into several categories.

Bipolar I involves severe episodes of mania and, usually, episodes of depression as well. Patients diagnosed with bipolar I disorder may also experience mixed episodes, in which they have symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously.

Patients with bipolar II disorder have longer and more intense periods of depression that alternate with hypomania, which is a milder form of mania. Hypomania causes heightened energy, irritability, and other mild symptoms, but it generally does not interfere significantly with daily functioning.

The mildest form of bipolar disorder is cyclothymic disorder. Marked by brief episodes of mild depression and hypomania, the condition can be disruptive to a patient’s life, but the highs and lows are not as extreme as with bipolar I or II.