American Academy For Yoga in Medicine

Shine a Light on Bipolar Disorder, Offer a Hand

There are three main types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymia.

Bipolar I

  • Definition: Characterized by at least one manic episode.
  • Symptoms May include hypomanic episodes (less severe than manic episodes) and major depressive periods before and after the manic episode. Long periods of stable mood can occur between episodes.
  • Gender Impact: Affects people of all genders equally.

Bipolar II

  • Definition: Involves at least one major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode lasting about four days.
  • Symptoms: More common in females. Hypomanic episodes are less severe and shorter than manic episodes.


  • Definition: Involves symptoms of hypomania and depression that are not severe enough to qualify as full episodes.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms are shorter and less severe than those in Bipolar I or II. Mood symptoms are often absent for 1 to 2 months at a time.

Other Types

  • Other Specified Bipolar and Related Disorders: For symptoms that don’t fit into the main three types.
  • Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: For symptoms that don’t fit any specific category.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Mania and Hypomania

  • Mania: High energy, excitement, impulsive behavior, and sometimes hallucinations. May involve risky behaviors like unprotected sex, substance abuse, spending sprees, or reckless driving.
  • Hypomania: Similar to mania but less severe, doesn’t typically disrupt daily life or involve psychosis.

Major Depressive Episodes

  • Symptoms: Deep sadness, hopelessness, low energy, lack of interest in activities, changes in sleep and appetite, trouble concentrating, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Gender Differences

  • Females: Often diagnosed later, more likely to have Bipolar II, experience more depressive episodes, and rapid cycling.
  • Males: Typically diagnosed earlier, experience more severe manic episodes, are more likely to have substance use disorders, and show more aggression during manic episodes.

Bipolar Disorder in Different Groups

Children and Teens

  • Symptoms: Extreme mood shifts, irritability, hyperactivity, sadness, and changes in sleep and appetite. Diagnosis can be challenging due to overlap with other conditions like ADHD.

Historically Marginalized Groups

  • Misdiagnosis: People from marginalized groups, particularly those of African ancestry, are often misdiagnosed with conditions like schizophrenia due to symptoms of psychosis.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder


  • Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressant-antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications.


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
  • Psychoeducation: Helps patients understand their condition and manage symptoms.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy: Focuses on stabilizing daily routines.

Lifestyle Changes

  • A balanced diet, regular exercise, weight management, and consistent therapy sessions.

Natural Remedies

  • Supplements like omega-3, Rhodiola rosea, and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). Always consult a doctor before trying these.

Coping and Support

  • Building a care team that includes doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, and support groups.
  • Self-compassion and patience are crucial; finding the right treatment can take time.

Bipolar Disorder and Relationships

  • Communication: Being open about your condition can help your partner understand your symptoms and support you better.
  • Honesty: Sharing details about your diagnosis, treatment plan, and coping strategies can strengthen your relationship.

By understanding these aspects of bipolar disorder, you can better manage the condition and improve your quality of life.

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