Bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 are closely related conditions, but have crucial differences between them. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 2.6 % of the U.S. adult population has suffered from bipolar disorder in the past year, and about 3.9 % has it over the course of their life. If you’re concerned about a loved one with bipolar disorder or want to learn more about treatment options, finding out the differences between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 is a crucial step.
Bipolar Disorder Basics: Mania and Depression
Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania and periods of depression. While most people go through some periods where they feel a bit happier than usual or a bit sadder than usual, in bipolar disorder these differences are extreme and interfere with everyday life.
Manic periods involve feeling very “up” or “high,” and being much more active and talkative than usual. People experiencing mania can get agitated and irritable, struggle to sleep, feel like their thoughts are racing, take risks, and feel like they can juggle a lot of tasks simultaneously.
Conversely, during periods of depression the individual will often feel generally “down,” will sleep a lot more or less than usual, will feel lethargic, be forgetful, have trouble concentrating, will struggle to enjoy anything and may feel “empty” inside.
Defining the Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar 1 disorder is characterized by at least one episode of mania. These manic episodes are fairly extreme and may last a week or more, but some individuals may also have “mixed” episodes where they experience both mania and depression. Depressive episodes are common in bipolar 1, but not everyone has them.
Bipolar 2 is defined as at least one episode of major depression and one episode of “hypomania.” This “hypomania” is similar to the mania experienced in bipolar 1 but isn’t as severe, and could even go unnoticed in some cases. In contrast to mania, hypomania episodes are usually shorter, lasting a few days instead of a week.
Treating Bipolar 1 and 2
Treatment of bipolar disorder can take many different forms but often includes medications like mood stabilizers and antidepressants and psychotherapy. It can also involve lifestyle changes or other interventions. Treating bipolar 1 is essential because manic episodes usually involve risk-taking behavior, spurred on by impaired judgment. Depressive episodes carry the risk of suicide so finding treatment can be life-saving.
As long as they receive proper treatment, learn effective and healthy ways to cope with stress, and adjust their lifestyles as needed, people with bipolar disorder can live fulfilling, happy lives. The most important thing is to find support from a mental health professional as soon as possible.