The Three Main Bipolar Diagnoses

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • The psychiatric definition of bipolar spectrum disorders becomes more and more complicated as researchers learn more, so let's just focus on the three core diagnoses: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymia.


    People with Bipolar I experience mania and depression and possibly mixed episodes. Mania has severe symptoms not present in hypomania, such as hallucinations and delusions.


    Those with Bipolar II experience hypomania and depression and possibly mixed episodes.


    People with Cyclothymia experience hypomania and depression that is not incapacitating and does not include suicidal thoughts. Whether mixed episodes may (by definition) happen in Cyclothymia is unclear, and I'd love to hear from some of you with this illness on the subject.

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    What most people don't understand - especially outside the bipolar community - is that these three conditions are all serious illnesses. Bipolar I mania is extraordinarily serious, but hypomania can still be devastating. Bipolar II depression is generally more severe than depression in Bipolar I, is more frequent, and lasts longer. And the hypomania in Cyclothymia is the same as in Bipolar II, while its depression may be almost as severe.


    For more in-depth information on these issues, see:

Published On: July 24, 2011