Types of Bipolar

There are three types of bipolar disorder. While each type has a different set of symptoms, they are characterized by fluctuations in mood, energy, and activity levels. This is according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). These mood changes include manic episodes — feeling extraordinarily “up,” elated, irritable, or energized — and depressive episodes, feeling very “down,” sad, indifferent, or hopeless. Hypomanic episodes, which are a milder form of manic episodes that don’t last as long, may also occur. Bipolar I Disorder characteristics:

  • Manic episodes lasting at least one week, or manic symptoms that are so severe you require immediate hospitalization
  • Depressive episodes that typically occur as well, usually lasting at least two weeks
  • Depressive symptoms and manic symptoms that occur at the same time (in some cases)

What causes bipolar disorder?

At this point researchers are not able to identify what causes bipolar disorder; there appear to be many factors involved. The disorder appears to run in families. If a close relative, such as a parent, grandparent, brother or sister has it there is a greater risk for your child to be diagnosed with bipolar.

What are the symptoms?

It often seems that teenagers’ moods can rapidly change from one extreme to another, frequently occurring without a clear reason. However, to have bipolar disorder, these mood changes must be different from the child’s usual moods. They must co-occur with other symptoms and other changes in behavior. The distinct periods of time when these changes in mood and behavior occur are known as mood episodes. People with bipolar disorder have manic and depressive mood episodes. Often these times of mania (ups) or depression (downs) are more difficult to observe in teens then in adults.
A manic episode lasts at least a week. It is a period of extremely happy, aggressive, and/or angry mood that occurs with some of the following symptoms:

  • Display little need for sleep
  • Possess high energy levels
  • Extreme self confidence
  • Rapid speech pattern
  • Racing thoughts
  • Appears distracted and unable to focus
  • Hyper sexual behaviors
  • Odd or inappropriate at social settings

A depressive episode is defined as a period of sad, low, or irritable mood that occurs with some of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased pleasure in things they normally enjoy
  • Low energy
  • Sleep and appetite changes
  • Have low self-esteem.
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Withdraw social support (friends or family)
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Have thoughts about death or suicide.

How is it treated?

Effectively managing mood changes that come with bipolar disorder is extremely challenging. However the right treatment regimen can greatly improve symptoms. Often treatment usually includes both medicine (such as mood stabilizers) and counseling. The realization that your child has bipolar disorder can be hard. This disorder can present as a very serious, lifelong problem. It is important to understand your child will very likely need long-term treatment and diligent medication management.