When people refer to Bipolar Disorder, they may not realize that there are several types of the disorder:  Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Hypomania, and Cyclothymia.  There is also rapid-cycling; however, it is not exactly a type of Bipolar Disorder, but a sub-type of the disorder.  Your doctor may refer to you as a "rapid-cycler," though, and so it is included in this article.  Therefore, there are several types of bipolar disorder – which one are you?


To have Bipolar I Disorder, you must have at least one manic episode (or mixed episode) sometime during your life.  This episode must last at least one week, or must be serious enough to require that you be hospitalized.  It must also negatively affect at least one aspect of your life to some agree – your professional life, family life, and/or personal life. 


Depression is not required to have Bipolar I Disorder, although many people with this type of Bipolar Disorder have experienced one or two bouts of major depression throughout their lives.


To have Bipolar II Disorder, you must have one or more episodes of major depression with at least one hypomanic episode during your life.  The depressive episodes must last at least two weeks, and the hypomania must last at least four days.


Hypomania is a milder form of mania, which is characterized by an increase in energy and heightened state of mind (or euphoria).  You might also feel all-powerful, uninhibited, and have increased creativity, with a decreased need for sleep.  On the other hand, you might experience dysphoria, which means that you might feel irritable, agitated, disorganized, angry, paranoid, violent, or even suicidal.


Hypomania does not typically result in serious problems with relationships or extremely risky behavior, but your behavior can still make people around you feel very uncomfortable.


Cyclothymia is a less extreme type of Bipolar Disorder, although it still interferes with your life in some form or fashion.  It involves multiple episodes of hypomania and depressive symptoms, which do not meet the criteria for major depression or mania in intensity or duration.  Your symptoms must last for at least two years without more than two months of stable moods during that time.  Some people with Cyclothymia go on to develop a full-blown manic, depressed, or mixed bipolar episode, leading to an additional diagnosis of Bipolar I or Bipolar II Disorder.


Rapid-Cycling is not an actual type of Bipolar Disorder, but merely a sub-type of Bipolar I or Bipolar II Disorder.  To qualify as a rapid-cycler, you must experience the following:


·         Four or more episodes (manic, hypomanic, depressed, or mixed) in a year

·         Episodes must be full-blown episodes

·         Mania or mixed state must last at least one week or result in hospitalization; depression must last at least two weeks; and hypomania must last at least four days.  In other words, rapid-cycling doesn't describe mood changes from minute to minute or hour to hour.


The types of Bipolar Disorder then, as described above, are Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder, Hypomania, and Cyclothymia.  Which one are you?