The majority of individuals are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However some medical professionals may explain your illness in terms of a particular categorisation.

Bipolar I

Individual’s mood swings move across the mood scale encompassing both manic episodes and depression.

Untreated, manic episodes generally last three to six months.

Depressive episodes last rather longer – six to 12 months - without treatment.

Bipolar II

Individuals experience a prevalence of depression. Likely to have more than one episode of severe depression, and the majority of individuals with Bipolar II will experience hypomania (6 to 8 on the mood scale) rather than extreme manic episode (8 to 10 on the mood scale).

Mixed State

Symptoms of mania and depression are present at the same time, which may result in agitation, trouble sleeping and significant change in appetite, psychosis and suicidal thoughts.

Rapid Cycling

This occurs when individual’s mood swings change faster. More than four mood swings happen in a 12-month period. Rapid Cycling affects around one in ten people with bipolar, and can happen with Bipolar I and II.


Individuals experience mood swings but at a much lower level. Symptoms must last for a period of at least two years, with no period longer than two months in which there has been a stable state and no mixed episodes. Although individuals diagnosed with cyclothymia are on the bipolar spectrum, the relative mildness of the mood swings means you are not diagnosed with bipolar. However cyclothymia can develop into bipolar.


Sometimes severe mania (8 to 10 on the mood scale) or depression (2 to 0 on the mood scale) is accompanied by periods of psychosis. Psychotic symptoms include hallucinations and delusions.