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Perhaps one of the reasons that diagnosis of a Bipolar Disorder can take several years is because there are several types of Bipolar Affective Disorder.

Some which can get misdiagnosed with other mental health conditions, such as depression, ADHD or substance abuse; one study found 69% of patients had been misdiagnosed to start with 1.

Free Online Test

Our Free Online Bipolar Test is not a diagnostic tool but can be useful in understanding if you are showing some of the most common symptoms of Bipolar.

The good news is that with a proper diagnosis, the correct medication and psychotherapy it can be successfully controlled and sufferers can go on to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

Types of Bipolar Affective Disorder:

The duration of the mood states can last anywhere between a week to several years – there are no norms.

Bipolar I Disorder
This is the ‘classic’ form of bipolar where extreme manic episodes and depressed states can be experienced. A diagnosis is based on one or more manic episodes (or mixed episodes where feelings of mania and depression are experienced at the same time) and one or more major depressive states.

Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II can often be difficult to diagnose and can be confused with depression because the sufferer experiences major depressive episodes with hypomania, rather than full manic states.

This is a mild form of bipolar where sufferers can fluctuate between hypomania and mild depression, sometimes punctuated with spells of feeling ‘normal’. Cyclothymia can often go undiagnosed because the symptoms are milder, but if undiagnosed there is an increased risk of developing full-blown bipolar at a later stage.

Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
This is where there may be no particular pattern of symptoms experienced, but instead there are symptoms of hypomania or very rapid swings between some of the symptoms of mania and some of the symptoms of depression.

Rapid Cycling
This is where there are four or more episodes of mania, hypomania or depression in a twelve month period and where level moods do not last long.

1 Lish, JD, Dime-Meenan, S. and Whybrow PC et al., (1994) The National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association Survey of Bipolar Members, Journal of Affective Disorders 1994; 31:281-94

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