Correctly Diagnosing Your Bipolar Symptoms: Are you Type I or Type II?
By Dr Becky Spelman
Bipolar (BPD), or manic depression as it is sometimes known,
is a mood disorder incorporating both depressive and manic episodes that appear
independently of one another over a sustained period. Due to the broad spectrum
it exists on, it can be quite tricky for the untrained observer to discern,
accurately. So broad is the spectrum, in fact, it’s seen the designation of a
Type I and Type II diagnosis. Although, both exhibit the same patterns of
extreme elation followed by crushing lows.
The effects of depression are fairly self-explanatory, but the mania associated with BPD is a little less clear. A passage from the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders’ defines manic episodes as being, “a period of abnormally and persistent, elevated, expansive or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently increased activity lasting at least one week and present most of the day, nearly every day.”
The main difference between BP I and BP II, is how these episodes of mania are experienced. For the person with BP I, their manic episodes are classed are ‘mania,’ while the BP II sufferer’s version is referred to as, ‘hypomania.’ Both will display inflated self-esteem, (grandiosity), decreased sleep, talkativeness, inspired creativity, racing thoughts, and an increase in goal-oriented activities.
difference largely comes in how these manic periods are experienced. In type I,
there is an increased detachment from the world, marked by an indulgence in
fantasy, suspicion and paranoia. These sorts of heightened mood states are much
harder to manage, sometimes necessitating hopsitalisation, meaning the sufferer
can be more reliant on medication than those suffering with type II. Type I
sufferers often find it hard leading a functional life, due to the cognitive impairment
they endure while in their manic state. This can, and often does, lead to them
becoming isolated, living on the fringes of society unable to fit in.
sufferers, on the other hand, experience higher functioning hypomania. While
they’re still prone to the same symptoms associated with type I, the intensity
is significantly reduced, meaning they’re ‘more’ in tune with reality. The
flights of fancy and grandiosity will still be present, as well as the lack of
choice in when these episodes take place, but they’re much more manageable.
Episodes of hypomania are distracting but occur without any lasting impairment.
this doesn’t make a diagnosis of type II BPD any easier to live with, as some
people mistakenly believe. It’s thought due to the higher-functioning
hypomania, a relatively normal life can be led, which in that respect at least,
it can. But the unfortunate consequence of type II is with being more of a
chronic condition compared with type I.
of depression last for much longer and with greater frequency, making it harder
to engage in daily activities, due to the underlying sense of apathy – similar
to unipolar depression. And in fact, it has been reported type II’s experience
far more low points even those with unipolar depression. Type II may be less
intense, but creates more dysfunction over the long-term.
*** If you think you may be exhibiting the signs of either bipolar type I or II, or have an existing diagnosis requiring support, one of our specialists would be happy to provide you with a FREE 15 MINUTE CONSULTATION.
Correctly Diagnosing Your Bipolar Symptoms: Are you Type I or Type II? was last modified: January 7th, 2021 by Dr Becky Spelman
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