Teens at Muir Wood enjoy game night

The Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by unusual shifts in mood and energy levels. While the National Institute of Mental Health reports that the condition tends to last for a lifetime, people who have the disorder can get better if they receive the proper care at the proper time. However, not all cases of bipolar disorder are the same, and not all people who have the disorder respond to the same type of care. In fact, there are four distinct types of bipolar disorder, and each type comes with its own special treatment protocols. Learning more about these specific types of care can help people to make good choices about their own treatment programs.

Bipolar I

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance reports that bipolar I is the most severe form of the illness, as people who have this type of disorder experience intense shifts in personality nearly every day. One moment, they may have extreme feelings of mania, with high energy levels and intense feelings of joy, while the next moment is colored with feelings of sadness and depression. Some people cycle rapidly, while some people experience mixed episodes in which they feel symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time.

Bipolar II

People with this form of bipolar disorder also shift from mood to mood, but they may not experience the same intense mania that those with bipolar I deal with. Instead, they may have symptoms of hypomania, which may include:

  • Quick thinking
  • Irritability
  • Increased productiveness
  • Spending sprees

Since people with bipolar II often seem low and sad much of the time, the hypomania symptoms can be misinterpreted as a “good day” or a lifting of a dark mood. However, the symptoms can be disastrous for a person’s financial and personal security, as people in the grips of a hypomania episode are often making poor decisions.


This mild form of bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of hypomania, much like those described above, but the depression that follows these periods isn’t quite so deep and dark. People with this disorder may elude detection, because their symptoms aren’t so significant that they cause alarm, but without treatment, this form of the disorder can grow stronger, and some people transition into more intense forms of bipolar disorder in time.

Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Some people have symptoms of bipolar disorder that are severe and interfere with their day-to-day lives, but they may not have all of the markers that would merit a full-blown diagnosis of the disease. They may be missing some intense symptoms of mania, for example, or they may not cycle between moods on a regular basis. People like this still need treatment, of course, but they may not fit within the very strict categories of illness outlined above.

Getting Care

At Muir Wood, we know about the misery any form of bipolar disorder can cause. In our treatment facility, we provide integrated care for people who have mental illnesses, and we can also treat the addictions that sometimes blossom when a mental illness is in play. Our programs could help you to understand your illness and change your habits so you’re not impacted by the disorder on a daily basis. Please call us to find out more about the benefits of treatment.