The jury is still out as to exactly how many types of bipolar disorder there actually are.
Bipolar disorder is sometimes conceptualized as a spectrum of disorders, where severity occurs along a continuum.
The DSM-IV-TR, the bible of psychiatry, lists three specific bipolar types and any types not fitting the diagnostic criteria for one of these three specific types gets categorized as “non-specified” or “Bipolar NOS”.
Despite the authority of the DSM-IV for many US psychiatrists, it is very important for you to understand that there is no clear consensus as to how many types of bipolar disorder exist.
The classification of bipolar disorder types is a controversial area with the spectrum theory coming under increasing attack.
It can also include episodes of major depression or hypomania.
Substance-induced episodes due to the effects of medications, drugs or exposure to toxins or episodes caused by a medical condition must be ruled out before a patient can be diagnosed as having bipolar I disorder.
Additionally, other mental disorders must be excluded, as well.
If you do not fit into any one of these categories, you may be diagnosed as bipolar disorder NOS, not otherwise specified.
Estimates place two and a half percent of the population in this category, more than I and II combined.
Bipolar I and II have specific conditions that must be met for the diagnosis. For example, one specifier states there must be a full remission between two episodes before an individual is diagnosed as one of the three bipolar disorders.1
If you do not meet all of the specifiers of one of the types of bipolar disorder, you will probably be diagnosed as bipolar NOS.