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Neuro Notes

Bipolar 1 Vs. Bipolar 2

Jan 26, 2023

All types of bipolar disorder are characterized by mood episodes. The highs are known as manic episodes. The lows are known as depressive episodes. Not all bipolar disorder types have episodes of depression.

The main difference between bipolar I and bipolar II disorders lies in the severity of the manic episodes caused by each type.

A person with bipolar I will experience an episode of mania, while a person with bipolar II will experience a hypo-manic episode (a period less severe than a full manic episode).

A person with bipolar I may or may not experience a depressive episode, while someone with bipolar II will experience a major depressive episode.

What is bipolar I disorder?

You must have had at least one manic episode lasting 7 or more days to receive a bipolar I disorder diagnosis. A person with bipolar I disorder may or may not have a major depressive episode. The symptoms of a manic episode may require hospital care.

Manic episodes are usually characterized by the following:

  • high energy
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating
  • feelings of euphoria (extreme happiness)
  • behaviors that can lead to harmful consequences
  • poor sleep

What is bipolar II disorder?

Bipolar II disorder involves a major depressive episode lasting at least 2 weeks and at least one hypo-manic episode. People with bipolar 2 typically don’t experience manic episodes intense enough to require hospitalization.

Bipolar II is sometimes misdiagnosed as depression, as depressive symptoms may be the major symptom when the person seeks medical attention. When there are no manic episodes to suggest bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms become the focus.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

As mentioned above, bipolar I disorder involves episodes of mania and may involve depression, while bipolar II disorder includes hypo-mania and depression. Let’s learn more about what these symptoms mean.


A manic episode is more than just a feeling of elation, high energy, or distraction. During a manic episode, the mania can interfere with daily activities.

People having an episode of mania may make some irrational decisions, such as spending large amounts of money that they can’t afford to spend. They may also engage in behaviors that may have harmful consequences.

An episode is not considered manic if caused by outside influences such as alcohol, drugs, or another health condition.


A hypo-manic episode is a period of mania less severe than a manic episode. However, in a hypo-manic episode, behavior still differs from your usual state. The differences will be extreme enough that people around you may notice.

Officially, a hypo-manic episode isn’t considered hypo-mania if it’s influenced by drugs or alcohol.


Depressive symptoms in someone with bipolar disorder are like those of someone with major depressive disorder. They may include extended periods of sadness and hopelessness. You may also experience a loss of interest in people you once enjoyed spending time with and activities you used to like. Other symptoms include:

  • tiredness
  • irritability
  • trouble concentrating
  • changes in sleeping habits
  • changes in eating habits
  • thoughts of suicide

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