Which Is Worse, Bipolar 1 Or 2?

Bipolar disorder affects millions worldwide, so you may wonder which is worse, bipolar 1 or 2?

Bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 present in different ways. The former is characterized by intense manic, depressive, and mixed phases.

While the latter is defined by depressive and hypomanic episodes.

Individuals diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder experience one full manic episode at minimum. This is followed by depressive episodes.

However, those with bipolar 2 disorder have at least one hypomanic phase and one severe depressive episode.

Hypomania is a milder form of mania associated with bipolar 1. Given the different symptoms, one diagnosis isn’t more manageable than the other. 

This post explores the differences relating to bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. We will explain which is worse and the relevant symptoms for each diagnosis. Let’s dive into the meaning of bipolar disorder first.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition which used to go by the names manic-depressive illness or manic depression. It manifests as drastic changes in attitude, vitality, and activeness.

Those diagnosed as bipolar experience manic episodes. These are periods where feelings of euphoria are heightened, and they have a boost of energy. Some other symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Rapidly changing thoughts
  • Engaging in risky activities

They also experience depressive episodes marked by hopelessness, sadness, and lethargy. Signs of a depressive episode include the following:

  • Disinterest in formerly enjoyable activities
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Low motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Excessive fatigue

These fluctuations can significantly influence one’s ability to carry out daily tasks, maintain relationships, and function in society.

The onset of this disorder is typically experienced during the late adolescent or young adult years. But bipolar disorder can also emerge later in life.

There are three primary kinds of bipolar disorder, each with distinct characteristics and varying degrees of severity. They include bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and cyclothymia.

Sometimes bipolar disorder symptoms can’t be categorized into the above groups. Their diagnosis is “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders”.

Bipolar 1 Vs. Bipolar 2

To determine the variances between bipolar 1 and 2, you must understand the difference between the two diagnoses.

Bipolar 1 presents with a minimum of one manic episode. Most individuals diagnosed with bipolar 1 also experience depressive episodes. 

Bipolar 2 is characterized by alternating depressive and hypomanic episodes. Individuals with this mood disorder have at least one hypomanic episode and one severe depressive episode. 

Hypomanic episodes are not as extreme as the manic episodes of Bipolar 1. They include persistent elevated, irritable, or expansive moods and bursts of energy. Some symptoms of hypomanic episodes include:

  • Bouncing from one idea to the next
  • Having exaggerated self-confidence
  • Loud speech
  • A decreased need for sleep

Which Is Worse, Bipolar 1 Or 2?

Now that you know what sets bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 apart, we can deduce which is worse.

Bipolar 1 isn’t worse than bipolar 2, and vice versa. These are separate diagnoses, each with its unique challenges and symptoms.

Manic, hypomanic, depressive, and mixed phases characterize Bipolar 1 disorder. Therefore, it can be severe and dangerous.

However, Bipolar 2 can be a heavy burden to bear for those who have it. They can be depressed for extended periods, which can cause significant damage with considerable consequences. 


Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition with three primary types: bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and cyclothymia.

It’s characterized by manic episodes involving irritability, agitation, and rapidly racing thoughts.

And depressive episodes, which entail negative self-talk, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and low motivation.

People with bipolar 1 have, at a minimum, one manic episode followed by depressive episodes.

While those with bipolar 2 experience, at a minimum, one episode of hypomania and one major depressive episode. Both diagnoses come with challenges, so one isn’t inferior.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.) Is the Treatment For Bipolar 1 And 2 The Same?

Yes. Medication and forms of psychotherapy are used to treat bipolar disorder, whether one is diagnosed with bipolar 1 or bipolar 2.

2.) Can Bipolar 2 Progress To Bipolar 1?

Yes. While Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 are separate diagnoses, there are instances where Bipolar 2 progresses to Bipolar 1.

Individuals may experience mild symptoms of bipolar disorder in the early years of their life. Then when they’re older, they may have a full-blown manic episode.

3.) Can Bipolar 1 Be Misdiagnosed As Bipolar 2?

Yes. Diagnosing bipolar disorder is challenging because its indicators overlap with other conditions, such as ADHD and depression.

According to a recent study, up to 40% of patients with bipolar disorder are wrongly diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD).

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