What is the Difference between Bipolar 1 & 2?

Instructor: Emily Cummins
This lesson discusses the mental illness known as bipolar disorder, which is characterized by episodes of mania and depression. This disorder can also be divided into two types: bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. We'll talk about the difference between them.

Bipolar Disorder

Have you ever heard a person talk about mood swings, or feelings of 'ups' and 'downs,' depending on what's going on in his or her life? If so, they were probably just making small talk. For most of us, mood swings are a normal part of life but they aren't serious and they don't impact our lives all that much. For a person who suffers from bipolar disorder, however, mood swings mean something very different and can be very serious.

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that affects mood. It causes drastic shifts in mood and energy levels and can interfere with a person's ability to do daily activities. Bipolar disorder is characterized by two important symptoms: manic episodes and depressive episodes.

Manic episodes are characterized by periods of extreme energy and productivity, or extended periods of feeling unusually happy. We're not just talking about being in a good mood, here. We're talking about abnormal feelings of elation. A person experiencing a manic episode might talk very quickly, experience racing thoughts, and might be easily distracted.

Where a manic episode can become especially dangerous is when people experience inflated beliefs in their own ability. As an extreme example, if you're having a severe manic episode, you might think you could jump off of a high building and land, unscathed. Another common example of manic symptoms might include you making poor decisions, such as maxing out credit cards during a shopping spree.

People in manic states might do things like max out their credit cards on a shopping spree
bipolar, shopping spree

A depressive episode, on the other hand, is characterized by very long periods of feeling sad or down. If you're in a depressive episode, you might lose interest in things you once enjoyed. There might also be changes in eating and sleeping habits. For example, if you were experiencing a depressive episode, you might sleep for many hours during the day and night and might not feel like eating much. In severe cases, depressive episodes might also lead to thoughts of suicide.

Bipolar Disorder can lead to feelings of depression
depression, bipolar

It's also possible for a person suffering from bipolar disorder to experience a mixed state, where symptoms of both mania and depression are present. So, someone in the midst of a mixed state might quickly go from feeling sad to happy, and vice versa. It's almost like being happy and sad at the same time, which might seem strange, but people experiencing mixed episodes might talk about how great they are one minute, and start crying the next.

To make things more confusing, bipolar disorder has two different types. They are distinguished primarily by the frequency and severity of the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. Let's talk about those now.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar 1 disorder is characterized by episodes of mania that, generally, last at least a week. Often, these patients experience episodes of mania that are very serious and involve the need for hospitalization. This is known as a 'full blown manic episode.' These patients might also experience mixed episodes or hypomania, which is a manic episode that's not as severe as a full-blown episode, but they frequently lead up to a full-blown episode.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account