Bipolar 1 and 2 – What’s the Difference?

Today we’re gonna talk about:

Bipolar 1 and 2 – What’s the Difference?

I recently sent out a survey to over 1,000 people asking what type of mental illnesses they or their loved were facing. Not surprising, bipolar disorder what in the top 5. I could not wait to dive into this topic because it’s super close to my heart as my husband fights Bipolar 2 disorder.

Bipolar is a brain disorder that causes unusual changes in a person’s mood, energy or ability to function in their daily lives. It’s not a normal mood swing that the average person experiences: feeling sad in the morning and happy at dinnertime. Bipolar is a clearly defined mental illness.

You may have heard a doctor or someone you know refer to it as either Bipolar 1 or Bipolar 2, so what’s the difference?

Bipolar 1: involves periods of severe mood episodes from mania to depression. In order to be diagnosed, you need to have at least one manic episode and at least one major depressive episode.

Bipolar 2: involves at least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode.

People with Bipolar 1 and 2 both experience severe depression that lasts for more than 2 weeks. 


  • This is a prolonged sadness or unexplained crying
  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests
  • Socially withdrawing
  • Significant changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Could include psychotic symptoms

The difference with Bipolar 1 and 2 is in whether the person experiences manic or hypomanic episodes:

Bipolar 1 patients experience manic mood symptoms. This is an abnormally elevated or irritated mood lasting at least 7 days (unless they are hospitalized) including:

  • Rapid speech
  • Little need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts, rapid ideas
  • Continuous high energy, often goal-directed
  • Overconfidence or inflated self-esteem
  • Distractibility, trouble concentrating
  • Reckless behavior, poor judgment, high-risk pleasure-seeking
  • Could also include psychotic symptoms (this is lost contact with reality often with hallucinations or delusions)

Bipolar 2 patients, on the other hand, experience hypomanic symptoms which include:

  • The above symptoms, but excluding psychotic signs
  • Lasts at least 4 days verses 7
  • Does not cause major impairment in functioning compared to mania which can lead to hospitalization

Although hypomania is at a milder level than mania Bipolar 2 is not a milder form of Bipolar. The deepness of depression is often crushing and can deeply impair functioning so that people with Bipolar 2 don’t seek help, or are misdiagnosed with major depressive disorder.

This is exactly what happened to my husband. He also experienced being hypomanic and depressed at the same time which left him feeling very agitated and irritable. This often leads to an increase risk of suicide in Bipolar patients.

Now you know the difference between Bipolar 1 and 2. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one might be struggling with this I can’t encourage you enough to see a professional. You can’t self-diagnosis. You need a treatment plan to help get you on the road to recovery.

In addition, education is vital. Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Rebecca Lomeland has put together the list of resources that I’ll share with you below.


Proverbs 3:7 says “Do not be wise in your own eyes…”

No one has all the answers so let’s learn from one another and depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

What have learned today about bipolar disorder? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Next Steps:

Look into these Resources

  • The Bipolar Workbook: Tools for Controlling Your Mood Swings, by Monica Ramirez Basco
  • The Bipolar Handbook: Real-Life Questions with Up-to-Date Answers, by Wes Burgess
  • Treating Bipolar Disorder, by Ellen Frank
  • The Psychoeducation Manual for Bipolar Disorder, by Eduard Vieta and Francesc Colom
  • The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know, by David Miklowitz
  • Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, by Julie Fast
  •, Jim Phelps
  • Pacific Bipolar Treatment Program in SW Portland, Dr. Shelly Getzlaf
  • Rebecca Lomeland, LMHC, Lacamas Counseling in Camas, WA; 360-975-2842;;
  • Request a Counselor through His Heart Foundation: 
    click here

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