Bipolar 1 disorder is the most serious of the different types of bipolar disorder – the classic form of “manic-depression” where a person goes through cycles of bipolar mania and depression.
People suffering from the symptoms of bipolar 1 – also known as bipolar type 1 disorder, and bipolar I disorder – usually find their daily lives are badly disrupted until their symptoms pass.
They are also at risk of some of the more severe bipolar disorder symptoms, such as hallucination and delusions.
Fortunately bipolar type 1 disorder is relatively rare, and modern medical and psychological treatments are very effective.
What you’ll find on This Page about Bipolar 1 Disorder
On this page you can read information about bipolar type 1 disorder, its symptoms, who it affects, and how it is treated.
In the section titled Bipolar Type 1 Disorder you can learn how bipolar 1 disorder is different from other types of bipolar disorder.
You can also learn about Bipolar 1 Disorder Symptoms and why they are sometimes mistaken for symptoms of “unipolar” depressive disorders, such as major depression.
Bipolar Type 1 Disorder is a type of mental illness known as a “mood disorder.”
Psychiatrists group bipolar disorder with other “mood” disorders because their main symptom is unusual and sharp changes in a patient’s emotional state, or mood.
In a bipolar disorder, the mood of a patient cycles between the two emotional “poles” of mania and depression.
The episodes of bipolar mania and depression can last for weeks or months, and usually cause severe disruption and personal distress.
Most people find they are unable to go about their normal daily lives because of the effects of bipolar mania or bipolar depression symptoms.
The symptoms of some types of bipolar disorders are more severe than others, and together the different types of bipolar disorder are known as the “bipolar spectrum.”
Bipolar 1 Disorder Is the most Serious Type of Bipolar Disorder on the Bipolar Spectrum
The symptoms of mania in bipolar type 1 disorder are likely to be more pronounced – and potentially more serious – than in other types of bipolar disorder.
Someone going through a phase of full bipolar mania starts to lose touch with reality and is likely to do impulsive and irrational things – such as going on a shopping spree with money they can’t afford to spend.
They may fail to pay attention to important things in their lives, such as their relationships with their friends and families, or their responsibilities at work.
Bipolar 1 Disorder Can Have Some Serious Symptoms
In the most severe cases, people with bipolar 1 disorder can experience hallucinations, such as seeing people who aren’t there, or hearing voices when no-one is speaking.
Or they may suffer delusions, and believe things that aren’t real – such as a belief that they have magical powers, or that someone is able to read their mind.
People who suffer from psychotic symptoms like these, or other severe symptoms of mania or depression, may need to spend some time in hospital until their symptoms pass.
You can read more in detail about the symptoms of bipolar mania and bipolar depression on the homepage on this website of Bipolar Disorder Symptoms.
But Bipolar 1 Disorder Can Be Effectively Controlled
The good news is that bipolar type 1 disorder is relatively rare and its symptoms can be controlled effectively with modern medical drugs, self-help techniques and psychological training.
Bipolar 1 Disorder Symptoms
Bipolar 1 disorder differs from other bipolar disorders because of the intensity of the symptoms during a manic episode.
A manic episode is a sharply “elated”, “euphoric” or “elevated” mood that can last from a few days to several weeks.
They may not recognize their manic symptoms as an aspect of their illness – especially after a bout of depression has lifted, when some manic symptoms can easily be mistaken for a return to a normal mood.
Some people may like the way they feel when they are manic – such as being full of energy and ideas, or unusually productive, or talkative and outgoing.
Many people with bipolar disorder report that their episodes of depression tend to last longer than their episodes of mania – and many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder first see their doctor to get treatment for depression.
Some common symptoms of full bipolar mania can include:
- Sleeplessness, but not being tired during the day
- An unrealistically positive mood
- An unusual sense of importance, known as a “Delusion of Grandeur”
- Agitated, irritable or aggressive behavior
- “Racing” thoughts and speech
- Being easily distracted, and being unable to concentrate
- Losing interest in food and losing weight
- Increased creativity and Increased drive to achieve goals
- Poor judgment, risky, impulsive, pleasure-seeking behavior
- Shopping sprees and poor financial choices
- Engaging in sex a lot more often
- Excessive alcohol and drug use
The symptoms of depressive episodes of bipolar type 1 disorder are similar to those for other bipolar disorders.
The Symptoms of Each Manic or Depressive Episode of Bipolar 2 Disorder Can Be Very Different
Many people are first diagnosed with bipolar 2, after having only mild symptoms of mania (known as hypomania) – but up to 30 percent of them later experience an episode of full mania and their diagnosis is changed to bipolar type 1 disorder.
A person who has had an episode of full mania may later have manic episodes with only mild or hypomanic symptoms (but their diagnosis will stay as bipolar type 1.)
Some People with Bipolar 1 Disorder Experience “Mixed” Episodes
Mixed episodes occur when a person has symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time – for example, racing thoughts and speech combined with an overwhelming sense of sadness.
Mixed bipolar episodes can be extremely distressing and confusing.
A Diagnosis of Bipolar 1 Disorder Can Only Be Made by a Doctor
It’s not possible to diagnose yourself as bipolar, or to tell if you are bipolar by taking an online bipolar disorder test.
And if you are one of the 1% of the population who are bipolar then you should see a doctor to get treatment.
If you think that you may have signs of bipolar symptoms, or see signs of bipolar behavior in someone you know, it is important that you talk about it with a doctor at your local clinic or hospital.
You can read more on the bottom of our homepage about where to get help.
Bipolar disorder is thought to affect about one percent of adults.
That’s more than 60 million people around the world. About half of those people will experience at least one episode of bipolar mania or a mixed episode, and would be diagnosed as bipolar type 1.
The first episodes of bipolar 1 disorder usually occur between the ages of 15 and 25.
It’s unusual to develop bipolar disorder much later than that, although some people may go for years without going to see a doctor. Men tend to develop the disorder a few years earlier than women.
Sometimes the symptoms of bipolar disorder 1 can be confused with other conditions, or as the mood swings and character changes that many people go though in their teenage and early adult years.
As a result many bipolar people have been misdiagnosed for years before their condition has become known.
Bipolar Disorder Is Known to Have a Genetic Link
Bipolar disorder is more likely to occur in families where there is a history of mood disorders.
Researchers have now found several genes that are commonly present in the genetic structure of people who have bipolar disorder.
But not everyone who has those genes will develop bipolar disorder, and not everyone who develops the disorder has those genes.
Bipolar 1 Disorder is a Verified Medical Condition, not Just “Good” and “Bad” Moods
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are caused by abnormal chemical changes in the parts of the brain that govern our moods. But little is known about the reasons why those chemical changes occur – or why they occur when they do.
In many cases bipolar episodes can be “triggered” by everyday events, emotional stress, even changes in the weather – so there is clearly a psychological factor at work as well.
Psychological training is now an important part of effective modern treatments for bipolar type 1 disorder that focus on actively managing a level mood and being aware of potential bipolar triggers.
Fortunately bipolar 1 disorder can be very effectively controlled with modern medical treatments, psychological training, and self-help techniques.
Most people who suffer from bipolar disorder can now get regular medical and psychological treatment in a clinic or their doctor’s surgery, and learn to manage their condition as part of their normal daily lives.
People who have experienced bipolar type 1 mania need to take particular care sticking to their treatments, because of the potential consequences of an episode of full mania or depression.
The Treatments for Bipolar 1 Disorder Are Likely to Include a Mood-Stabilizing Medication, such as Lithium
The blood levels of mood stabilizers like Lithium need to be carefully monitored by a doctor, and it may take some experimenting with different types of drugs and different dosages to find an effective treatment.
Because regular anti-depressants like Prozac can trigger mania in people with bipolar type 1 disorder, specialized anti-depressant medications may be prescribed to help alleviate episodes of depression.
Psychological and Self-Help Treatments for Bipolar 1 Disorder Can Help People Actively “Manage” Their Moods
Learning to keep your emotions on “even keel” is an important part of controlling bipolar 1 disorder.
A common technique is to identify the personal “triggers” that can spark the onset of a manic or depressive episode, and to try to reduce your exposure to those triggers.
Every person has different triggers that can set off a bipolar episode. These triggers can spark new episodes of depression or mania, or make existing episodes worse.
Stressful experiences and physical illnesses, such as childbirth, lifestyle changes or sleep deprivation – even seasonal changes in the weather and natural light are known to trigger bipolar episodes.
Treatments for Bipolar 1 Disorder Can Take a Long Time, but You Can Usually See Signs of Improvement very Quickly
Bipolar type 1 disorder is a long-term illness, and most people with bipolar 1 disorder will need treatment for its symptoms throughout their lives.
But in most cases the severity of manic and depressive episodes decreases with treatment over time.
As a patient becomes more experienced at managing their condition, they may find they are able to reduce the levels of medication that they are taking.
Keeping an accurate record of the medication taken and changes in mood is an important feature of treatment for bipolar type 1 disorder. For this reason many people being treated for bipolar disorder keep a daily “mood diary” – to chart their emotional changes, record mood triggers, and keep records of their medication.
Mood diaries are often used by doctors when first assessing a patient for bipolar disorder, and as part of the treatment for patients receiving psychological and medical treatment for bipolar disorder.
The record of the mood diary is an important document of their patient’s emotional state and if their medications are working, or may need to be adjusted.
What Would You Like to Read Now After This Article on Bipolar Type 1 Disorder?
The Bipolar Disorder Test Guide: How to Act if You Experience Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Are Wondering “Am I Bipolar?”
Recognizing Real Bipolar Symptoms: Cutting Through the Confusion about Signs of Bipolar Disorder
Learn About Bipolar 2 Disorder: Bipolar Type 2 in Detail along with Typical Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
What is Bipolar Disorder? A Medical, Scientific and Historical Bipolar Definition & Guide to Understanding Bipolar Disorders
Bipolar Depression Symptoms List: Typical Manic and Depression Behavior Traits to Look for
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