Bipolar DisorderBipolar Types

Let's Talk About the Types of Bipolar Disorder

This mental health condition isn't one catch-all. Find out about the four types of bipolar so you can get the right diagnosis and any treatment you need—and get back to living your life.

    Our Pro PanelBipolar Disorder Types

    We went to some of the nation's top bipolar disorder experts to bring you the most scientific and up-to-date information possible.

    James W. Murrough, M.D., Ph.D.

    James W. Murrough, M.D., Ph.D.Director of the Depression and Anxiety Center for Discovery and Treatment and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience

    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
    New York, NY
    Po Wang, M.D. headshot

    Po Wang, M.D.Psychiatrist and Clinic Chief

    Bipolar Disorders Clinic at Stanford University Department of Psychiatry
    Linda Hubbard, L.M.F.T. headshot

    Linda Hubbard, L.M.F.T.Therapist

    Department of Behavioral Health, Psychiatry & Psychology at the Mayo Clinic
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    Frequently Asked QuestionsBipolar Disorder Types

    What’s the main difference between bipolar I and II?

    The level of intensity during the manic phase differentiates the two most common types of bipolar disorder. During manic episodes in bipolar I, mood and energy levels are so high they cause trouble with work and socializing—and can even lead to psychosis. The manic phase in bipolar II is called hypomania, in which your mood and behavior are elevated above normal but aren't as extreme as a manic period.

    Does a person need to have both mania and depression to be diagnosed with bipolar I and II?

    For a diagnosis of bipolar I, a person only needs to experience a manic episode, but not depression (that said, the vast majority of people who have manic episodes will also have depressive ones). For a diagnosis of bipolar II, you do need to have had at least one hypomanic episode (at least four days’ long) as well as at least one depressive episode.

    Why is bipolar II often misdiagnosed?

    Because the symptoms of hypomania are mild and often unrecognized, bipolar II is often misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder.

    Can cyclothymic disorder turn into bipolar?

    Yes, there is some chance that a person will go on to develop bipolar I or bipolar II disorder. A family history of bipolar is the strongest predictor that cyclothymic disorder will escalate into full-blown bipolar.

    Leslie Pepper

    Leslie Pepper

    Leslie Pepper is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, fitness, and wellness.