Most people are familiar with the condition known as bipolar disorder. However, not everyone understands that there are two distinct diagnoses of bipolar disorder: bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. Although some may ask “Is bipolar 1 or 2 worse?” it’s not a question of which form is more severe. They’re each a separate diagnosis that requires a specific type of treatment.
Find out the differences between bipolar 1 vs. 2 and what treatment options are available to help you manage your mental health with this condition.
What Are the Diagnostic Differences of Bipolar 1 vs. 2?
There are several key differences between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. Bipolar 1 is a disorder where the individual experiences severe episodes of periodic mania and depression. It’s common for at least one depressive episode to occur in bipolar 1 disorders, but it’s not required to obtain a diagnosis. In bipolar 1, the person must experience a manic episode that lasts seven days or more or is severe enough to require hospitalization before they receive this diagnosis.
People with bipolar 2 don’t experience these extreme manic episodes. Instead, they have depressive episodes and periodic episodes of hypomania. Hypomania typically presents as an increased energy or activity level but never reaches the scale of a full-blown manic episode. To receive a bipolar 2 diagnosis, the person must have had at least one depressive episode and one episode of hypomania.
What Are the Different Symptoms?
Although they’re two different diagnoses, there are similarities in the symptoms people with bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 experience. The commonality between the two are episodes of mania or hypomania. While they aren’t the same, hypomania and mania present some of the same symptoms, including:
- Being abnormally energetic or upbeat
- Having a decreased need for rest or sleep
- Being unusually talkative
- Experiencing racing thoughts
- Being easily distracted
- Experiencing euphoria (and an exaggerated sense of self-confidence)
- Exhibiting reckless behavior (going on shopping sprees, gambling or making impulsive decisions)
For people with bipolar 2 experiencing depressive episodes, symptoms can also include:
- Feeling sad, empty or hopeless
- Insomnia or too much sleeping
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate
- Weight loss or change in appetite
- Loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy
- Suicidal thoughts
If you’re having thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available for 24/7 support by calling 1-800-273-8255.
Do They Require Different Treatment?
Although bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 are different conditions, many of the available treatment options are the same. However, the treatment method and dosage (if treatment includes medication) are specific to the symptoms the individual is experiencing.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that requires treatment to manage. There may be periods where you experience little to no lingering symptoms, but the episodes of depression, mania or hypomania are likely to return periodically.
Common Treatments for Bipolar Diagnosis
Depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing, your psychiatric provider may recommend a combination of medication options to manage your bipolar diagnosis. Since the nature of the disorder means frequent mood changes, a mood stabilizer is typically prescribed to control the episodes of depression and mania (bipolar 1) or hypomania (bipolar 2). Lithium or valproic acid are two examples of mood stabilizers commonly prescribed for people with bipolar disorder.
In some cases, people with bipolar disorder can experience psychosis, which involves hallucinations and delusions. To combat this symptom, some psychiatric providers may also prescribe antipsychotic medications, such as olanzapine.
Individuals with bipolar 2 may be prescribed antidepressants to combat the depressive episodes that accompany this diagnosis. It’s necessary to understand the difference between bipolar 1 and 2 symptoms when considering which medications will be most effective.
Other Interventions for BP-1 and BP-2
In addition to medications, approximately 50% of people with bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 make psychotherapy a part of their treatment plan. One analysis of clinical trials found that when medication is supplemented with psychotherapy, symptoms improve and the recurrence rate within 12 months decreases.
Psychoeducation is also a critical component of managing bipolar disorder. This method consists of providing information about bipolar and its treatments to patients and their families. Psychoeducation aims to improve commitment to pharmacological treatment by helping patients understand the biological aspects of the disorder and how their medications are helping them manage symptoms. A 2019 analysis found that when patients receive psychoeducation in a clinical setting, the risk of future mood episodes decreases.
A 2008 study found that the impact on families of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder is significant. Specifically, there can be financial stress due to the bipolar individual requiring time off work. When the entire family understands the condition and treatment plan, a patient’s personal relationships are less likely to become strained due to these changes.
The Stigma Surrounding Bipolar Disorder
When dealing with a BP-1 or BP-2 diagnosis, it can be confusing and challenging to navigate emotions and social views on the condition. Despite improving conversations around mental health, there can still be a stigma around receiving a diagnosis from those who don’t understand the nature of the condition.
That’s why having a good support system and a reliable health care provider in your corner is crucial to managing your mental health. This is also why psychoeducation for the patient and their family members or close friends is critical so everyone around them understands how to help and be supportive.
How To Seek Help for Bipolar Disorders
If you’re experiencing symptoms consistent with bipolar 1 or bipolar 2, it’s essential to seek help and obtain a diagnosis. Once you do, your psychiatric provider can prescribe the necessary course of treatment for you to manage the condition and live a happier, fuller life.
At Restore, we offer inpatient and outpatient treatment options to help you manage your bipolar disorder and navigate a diagnosis. To speak with one of our compassionate counselors and start your mental health journey, call Restore today at (877) 594-3566.