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Difference Between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2

Bipolar 1 vs Bipolar 2

Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 are depressive conditions. Difference between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 is not as clear cut and demarcated as some people believe and in fact there are overlapping symptoms; so much so that there is no consensus among experts about the exclusivity of the two disorders. However, the two disorders are different and this article is meant to highlight the differences between them. According to some experts bipolar 2 disorders are less extreme condition of bipolar 1 disorder.

For a person to be diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder there must be some depressive episode in his life. The severity and duration of this depressive episode is what makes a bipolar disorder categorized as bipolar disorder 1. The disorder is 1 if this depressive episode is mild and short. On the other hand, bipolar disorder is said to grip a person when he spends most of his life in major depressive state but never becomes a maniac. They do go to a maniac stage which is secondary and called hypomania. For a person to be classified as suffering from bipolar disorder 2, he must go to this mania stage.

What makes the situation confusing for doctors is that both bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 involve mood swings. The swings are between extreme depression and extreme mania and both the conditions are debilitating for the patient. Both extremes have two sides called the high side and the low side. Moderate low side is called moderate depression and the moderate high side is called hypomania.

There are mood swings in bipolar 1 but instead of swings between extremes, the person spends most of the time in the manic stage and doesn’t become highly depressive when he goes to the depressive side. In bipolar 2, the patient spends most of the time in a state of depression. Rarely do they feel a high, and when they do it is not extreme and remain in the hypomania stage.

Difference between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2

• Bipolar 1 does not necessitate a history of any depressive episode whereas bipolar 2 requires that there must be at least one major depressive state in the life of the patient.

• To be characterized as bipolar 1, the person must have experienced one full blown manic episode with symptoms of outgoingness, increased energy and even paranoia. In bipolar 2, manic episodes are rather restrained and the patient remains on the lower side of mania.

• Bipolar 1 patients have episodes in which they swing between moods but bipolar 2 patients do not have mixed episodes.

• Bipolar 1 patients have only one episode per year whereas bipolar 2 patients suffer from 2-4 episodes per year

• One trait that is common to both bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 is the tendency to attempt suicide. 25% of patients, irrespective of the type of bipolar disorder attempt suicide and nearly 15% of these are successful.


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