Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, both up and down. The periods of extremely elevated moods and energy levels are known as manic phases, while the periods of poor mood and reduced energy are classified as depressive phases. Bipolar disorder, also known as Manic Depression or Bipolar Affective Disorder, can be classified into one of three primary types of Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymia.
One of the most common types of Bipolar Disorder is referred to as Bipolar I. It is distinguishable by the presence of both one or more major depressive phases as well as one or more manic phases. Bipolar I is often considered the most severe of all the various types of Bipolar Disorders that exist. Extreme manic phases may result in dangerous or aggressive behavior and may become more prone to fall victim to substance abuse. The major depressive phases associated with Bipolar I can lead to anything from self-harm to suicide.
Bipolar II is another of the most frequently diagnosed types of Bipolar Disorder. This form of the condition is noted by the absence of manic episodes and the presence of major depressive phases. Instead of traditional manic phases, victims of Bipolar II experience what is referred to as hypomanic phases. These do not involve the periods of extreme increases in mood and energy but are instead accompanied by more general mood improvements, increased productivity, and potential hypersexuality. While Bipolar II can affect an individual's quality of life, it is generally not as debilitating as Bipolar I.
The third classification of Bipolar Disorder is referred to as Cyclothymia, sometimes known as Bipolar III. This is the lesser of the three types of Bipolar Disorder and is classified by the presence of both hypomanic episodes and minor depressive phases. Individuals suffering from Cyclothymia are typically able to lead fully functioning lives as the milder manic and depressive episodes tend not to interfere with day-to-day activities.
The two most prescribed classes of medication used to treat the various types of Bipolar Disorder include anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Bipolar II patients are more likely to be prescribed regular anti-depressants, while Bipolar I patients are typically given both anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication. The conflicting reactions a body can have when taking both of these drugs may also require a patient to take a mood stabilizer to help reduce the occurrence and severity of both manic and depressive phases. Patients diagnosed as Cyclothymia may only need to take prescription drugs on an as needed basis. Other non-prescription treatments include behavioral therapy for milder cases and electroconvulsive therapy for more severe situations.