Types of Bipolar

What Is The Difference Between Bipolar I, Bipolar II And Cyclothymic Disorder?

Bipolar I: This is the most severe form of bipolar and is characterised by extreme shifts in mood from mania to depression. To be diagnosed with bipolar I, a person needs to experience a manic episode. Some cases of bipolar I also include depressive and hypomanic episodes.

Bipolar II: To be diagnosed with bipolar II, a person needs to experience at least one depressive episode and one hypomanic episode. People experience normal functioning between episodes and often only seek treatment when experiencing a depressive episode because hypomanic episodes can feel pleasurable.

Cyclothymic disorder: This is the mildest form of bipolar and involves more frequent cycling between hypomanic and depressive symptoms that are not as severe as in bipolar I and II. For a diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder, a person needs to have experienced, for at least two years, many hypomanic and depressive symptoms that do not meet the criteria for hypomanic and depressive episodes. During this two-year period, the symptoms or mood-swings must have been present for at least half the time and have not stopped for a period of more than two months.

Treating Bipolar Disorders

In addition to a psychiatrist, bipolar treatment can be enhanced with the support of a multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals including psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and nurses.

Psychotherapy can help patients understand and accept the impact of past episodes and better manage future episodes. Certain specific evidence-based psychotherapies that have shown to be beneficial in the treatment of bipolar disorders to help speed recovery and improve overall functioning include:

  • Psycho education: Educational lectures that help patients understand bipolar disorders in a general sense as well as how their specific disorder manifests and could be managed.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT helps patients learn to identify and change the patterns of thinking that come with shifts in mood.
  • Behavioural therapy: This type of therapy focuses on enhancing behaviours that can decrease stress.
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy: DBT is a type of therapy designed to improve emotional regulation and can help people manage their emotions in healthier ways.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This type of therapy aims to reduce the strain placed on relationships die to this disorder.
  • Social rhythm therapy: This therapy is geared at developing and maintaining normal sleep patterns and healthy daily routines.
  • Group therapy: Group therapy can be delivered in inpatient and outpatient settings and includes ongoing support groups. Group therapy can help patients share and relate their experiences so they feel less alone as well as share individual coping skills and problems related to the disorder.
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