I’m Depressed, Not Broken (4)

In conclusion, there’s a few things to keep in mind about bipolar disorder.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder:

  • bipolar 1 disorder – which is uncommon and very severe.
  • bipolar 2 disorder – which is a lot more rampant.
  • cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia) – which is also not as common as bipolar one and two.
  • other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders

Bipolar 1 and 2 disorders are more common than the other types of bipolar disorder.

  • Bipolar I disorder, characterized by at least one manic episode. This may or may not be followed by a depressive episode.
  • Bipolar II disorder, characterized by at least one major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks, and at least one episode of hypomania (a milder condition than mania) that lasts for at least four days.
  • Cyclothymic disorder, characterized by at least two years of symptoms. With this condition, the person has many episodes of hypomanic symptoms that don’t meet the full criteria for a hypomanic episode. They also have depressive symptoms that don’t meet the full diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode. They’re never without symptoms for longer than two months at a time.
  • Not otherwise specified (NOS). This category is for bipolar symptoms that don’t clearly fit into other types. NOS is diagnosed when multiple bipolar symptoms are present but not enough to meet the label for any of the other sub-types. This category can also include rapid mood changes that don’t last long enough to be true manic or depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder NOS includes multiple hypomanic episodes without a major depressive episode.


Here’s a few tips and pointers on how to help someone with bipolar disorder during either one of their episodes. Keep in mind, you can’t fully be of help if you don’t understand who you’re dealing with and what they suffer from, that’s one. Two, all you can do is help notice the signs and see whether they’re alarming or not. If they are, seek medical advice, don’t play doctor, I repeat, do not play doctor.

How to help during a manic episode

“Some people find that living with a person with a chronic mental health condition like bipolar disorder can be difficult. Negative behaviors exhibited by someone who is manic are often focused on those closest to them. Honest discussions with your loved one while they’re not having a manic episode, as well as counseling, may be helpful. But if you’re having trouble handling your loved one’s behavior, be sure to reach out for help. Talk to your loved one’s doctor for information, contact family and friends for support, and consider joining a support group.”

How to help during a depressive episode

Just as with a manic episode, doctors may suggest a change in medication, an increase in medication, or a hospital stay for a person having a depressive episode with suicidal thoughts. Again, you’ll want to develop a coping plan for depressive episodes with your loved one when they’re not showing any symptoms. During an episode they may lack the motivation to come up with such plans.

You can also help a loved one during a depressive episode. Listen attentively, offer helpful coping advice, and try to boost them up by focusing on their positive attributes. Always talk to them in a nonjudgmental way and offer to help them with little day-to-day things they may be struggling with.

Some signs of an emergency include:

  • violent behavior or speech
  • risky behavior
  • threatening behavior or speech
  • suicidal speech or actions, or talk about death

In general, feel free to help the person as long as they don’t appear to be posing a risk to their life or the lives of others. Be patient, attentive to their speech and behavior, and supportive in their care. In some cases, it’s not always possible to help a person through a manic or depressive episode and you’ll need to get expert help. Call the person’s doctor right away if you’re concerned about how the episode is escalating.





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