Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2

Main Difference – Bipolar 1 vs 2

Bipolar 1 and 2 are two significant types of bipolar disorders which are categorized based on their length of the affected phase, frequency and pattern of the manic and depressive episodes. The main difference between bipolar 1 and 2 lies in the degree of severity marked by the phases of mania and hypomania; bipolar 1 is characterized by mania whereas bipolar 2 is characterized by hypomania. It is highly important to differentiate these two conditions from one another since the methods of treatment vary in each type.

In this article, we will discuss,

1. What is Bipolar 1 – Characteristics, Signs and Symptoms, Method of Treatment

2. What is Bipolar 2 – Characteristics, Signs and Symptoms, Method of Treatment

3. Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2

Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2 - Bipolar 1 vs 2 Comparison Summary

What is Bipolar 1

Bipolar I disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder, is a type of mental condition where the affected person will have at least one extreme manic episode during his lifetime. A manic episode is defined as a phase of unusually elevated mood along with increased energy and associated with an abnormal behavior which often interrupts the quality of life.

The majority of the people with bipolar I illness suffer from frequent episodes of depression associated with mania. This is why the disorder is also known as manic depression. In between those manic and depressive episodes, people usually live a normal lifestyle.

The symptoms of the disorder usually appear before the age of 60, and most affected people have found to be around 20 years of age. Also, people who have a positive family history are known to be at a high risk.

As far as the symptoms of Bipolar 1 are considered, patients will either suffer from euphoria or irritability during the manic phase. Other common symptoms include frequent shifting from one idea to another, rapid, loud and pressured speech, hyperactivity, decreased need for sleep, inflated self-image, hypersexuality and substance abuse.

Undiagnosed or untreated, episodes of mania can last for a few days-months which will be followed by an episode of depression which will either appear immediately or even after few months.

As far as the treatment for Bipolar 1 disorder is concerned, manic episodes are usually treated with drugs like mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and hypnotics where depressive episodes will be treated with anti-depressants.  Additionally, Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used for patients who will not respond to drugs or who have severe repetitive symptoms of both mania and depression.

Main Difference - Bipolar 1 vs 2

A woman diagnosed with mania.

What is Bipolar 2

Bipolar II disorder is a type of mental illness which is quite similar to bipolar I disorder; it is characterized by frequent shifting of moods between mania and depression. Significantly, elevated moods or euphoria in affected individuals will never reach a high severity like those of Bipolar 1 disorder and the less intense manic episodes are known as hypomania.

Individuals affected by bipolar II disorder will have at least a single episode of hypomania during their lifetime; this is often associated with severe phases of depression. However, in between the phases of hypomania and depression, the majority of the people will live normal lifestyles.

As far as the etiology of bipolar 2 is concerned, individuals with a positive family history and those who are around the age of 20 years will have a high susceptibility.

During hypomanic episodes, patients will complain of frequent mood shifts, exaggerated motivation and self-confidence, rapid and slurred speech, increased energy and decreased need for sleep.

Untreated episodes will usually last from few days to several months where a timely diagnosis and effective treatment will reduce the risk of disrupting the quality of life. Mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants are the commonest drugs used for patients.

Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2

Frequent mood Shift is a characteristic feature

Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2

Mania vs Hypomania 

Bipolar 1: Bipolar 1 is characterized by mania.

Bipolar 2: Bipolar 2 is characterized by hypomania.

In fact, even an individual with bipolar I disorder can have hypomanic episodes rarely. But, if someone diagnosed with bipolar II experience at least one episode of mania, the diagnosis will change to bipolar I disorder.

Psychotic Symptoms

Bipolar 1: Mania in Bipolar I can be associated with psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.

Bipolar 2: Bipolar II-hypomania will never indicate such psychotic symptoms.


Bipolar 1: Electroconvulsive therapy is usually used for non-responding cases of Bipolar I disorder.

Bipolar 2: Bipolar II can be treated with psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to prescribed drugs since the symptoms are comparatively less severe.

Image Courtesy: 

“Bipolar Dyptych 1 365” By Capra Royale – (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

“A woman diagnosed as suffering from hilarious mania. Colour Wellcome L0026687” By Welcome Images (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music