Some people are more familiar with the term ‘manic depression’ – which is a different label for bipolar disorder but means the same thing.
There are technically 2 types of Bipolar Disorder:
Bipolar I – both extremes of depression and mania.
Bipolar II – mainly depressed mood but with some episodes of a milder version of mania, called hypomania which may be less intense than full mania or only last for a short period of time.
Of course, everyone experiences ups and downs, but the extent of these is much more extreme and disruptive in Bipolar Disorder.
About 1 in 100 people will have mood swings severe enough to be labelled bipolar disorder.
Some people also experience mixed episodes. In a mixed episode you experience either:
- A full high mood/mania with some features of low mood
- A full low mood/depression with some features of high mood
- A full high and low mood at the same time
The frequency, length and severity of mood episodes are highly variable between individuals and over time. Some people find they have fewer episodes as they get older and learn how to manage their mood swings. Others find they get more frequent. People with 4 or more episodes per year are sometimes described as ‘rapid cycling.’