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Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2, Bipolar 1 Vs 2 Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Bipolar disorder, a complex and misunderstood mental health condition encompasses a spectrum of mood disorders that can significantly impact an individual’s life. We will delve into the intricacies of bipolar disorder, focusing on the critical distinctions between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2, exploring their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.


Bipolar disorder, a complex and misunderstood mental health condition encompasses a spectrum of mood disorders that can significantly impact an individual’s life. We will delve into the intricacies of bipolar disorder, focusing on the critical distinctions between Bipolar 1 and 2 and exploring their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2 Overview

Bipolar disorder is a multifaceted mental health condition known for its intricate interplay of extreme mood fluctuations, energy surges, and activity shifts. This condition casts a considerable shadow over the lives of millions of individuals across the globe, introducing substantial disruptions to their daily routines, relationships, and overall well-being. Within the expansive spectrum of bipolar disorder, several subtypes exist, among which Bipolar 1 and 2 rank as the most frequently diagnosed and studied.

By fostering a profound comprehension of Bipolar 1 and 2, we hope to empower those affected by this condition with the knowledge necessary to navigate its challenges effectively. Furthermore, healthcare practitioners can employ this knowledge to tailor evidence-based treatment strategies and be sensitive to their patient’s individualized needs, fostering a more promising path toward stability and a higher quality of life. So, let’s embark on this enlightening exploration of Bipolar 1 and 2, guiding you through the labyrinthine landscape of these intricate mood disorders.

What is the Difference Between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2?

What is bipolar 1? 

Bipolar I disorder, a prominent mental health condition, is characterized by extreme mood swings that can significantly disrupt an individual’s life. These mood fluctuations alternate between periods of depression and mania, leading to a complex and challenging condition to manage.

Depression in Bipolar 1

  • Persistent Low Mood and Loss of Interest: In the depressive phase of Bipolar I, individuals experience a persistent low mood distinctly different from ordinary feelings of sadness. This extended melancholy period is often accompanied by a profound loss of interest in most activities, making it challenging to engage in daily life.
  • Feelings of Worthlessness and Behavioral Changes: Depression in Bipolar I is also characterized by feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, further exacerbating the emotional burden. Individuals may undergo significant behavioral changes, hindering their ability to function normally.
  • Duration and Impact: These depressive episodes in Bipolar I last for at least two weeks and can be profoundly debilitating, affecting various aspects of an individual’s life, including their relationships, work, and overall quality of life.

Mania in Bipolar 1

  • Elevated Mood and High Energy Levels: In addition to depressive episodes, individuals with Bipolar I experience episodes of mania. During these manic episodes, individuals exhibit a significantly elevated mood and high energy levels. They may appear euphoric, highly energetic, and driven.
  • Risk-Taking Behavior: Mania can lead to impulsive and risky behaviors, such as excessive spending, reckless driving, and substance abuse. The heightened sense of self-confidence during manic episodes can make individuals feel invincible, leading them to engage in activities they typically avoid.
  • Psychosis and Delusions: Some individuals experiencing mania may also enter a psychosis characterized by delusions and hallucinations. Fantasies may include believing in grandiose ideas, like possessing extraordinary talents or knowledge, even when lacking relevant experience or expertise.
  • Hospitalization and Safety Concerns: Manic symptoms can be dangerous and, in some cases, life-threatening. Due to the risk of engaging in risky behaviors that can result in injury or legal trouble, individuals experiencing mania are often hospitalized for their safety. They may also be encouraged to seek emergency medical attention by concerned friends or family members due to their irrational thoughts and behaviors.

Understanding the complexities of Bipolar I, including its depressive and manic phases, is crucial for supporting and treating those affected by this condition.

What is Bipolar 2?

Bipolar II disorder, a distinct mood disorder, involves a pattern of mood fluctuations characterized by depressive episodes and a milder form of elevated mood known as hypomania. Understanding the subtleties of Bipolar II is essential for diagnosis and effective management.

Depression in Bipolar II

  • Prolonged Periods of Low Mood: Depression is central to Bipolar II disorder. Individuals experience periods of low mood, marked by persistent sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in most activities. These depressive episodes are similar to those in Bipolar I but lack the intensity of mania.
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Impact: During depressive phases in Bipolar II, individuals often grapple with negative thoughts and feelings of worthlessness. These emotional burdens can manifest in significant behavioral changes, making it difficult for them to carry out daily responsibilities.
  • Duration and Diagnostic Criteria: Depressive episodes in Bipolar II are similar to those in Bipolar I, lasting at least two weeks. However, the critical distinction is the absence of full-blown mania, a hallmark of Bipolar I.

Hypomania in Bipolar II

Subtle Elevation in Mood and Energy: Unlike the intense manic episodes in Bipolar I, Bipolar II is characterized by a milder form of elevated mood called hypomania. During hypomanic episodes, individuals experience increased energy and heightened mood. They may feel more productive, friendly, and creative.

Less Severe Impulsivity: Hypomania is often associated with increased sociability and productivity but is typically less severe than mania. Individuals with Bipolar II may engage in goal-oriented activities and be more creative during hypomanic episodes. However, the impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors seen in mania are generally absent.

Positive vs. Negative Impact: Hypomania can positively and negatively impact an individual’s life. While it can enhance creativity and productivity, it can lead to overcommitment and irritability.

 The most significant difference between bipolar 1 and 2 is the severity of the manic episodes experienced.
The most significant difference between bipolar 1 and 2 is the severity of the manic episodes experienced.

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Bipolar 1 Vs Bipolar 2 Table

CharacteristicBipolar IBipolar II
Mood Episodes– Depressive and manic episodes– Depressive and hypomanic episodes
Manic Symptoms– Intense, may include psychosis, hallucinations, and grandiosity– Milder form of elevated mood (hypomania) without psychosis
Duration of Depressive Episodes– At least two weeks– At least two weeks
Duration of Manic/Hypomanic Episodes– At least one week or requiring hospitalization– At least four days
Impact on Daily Life– Severe, often necessitates hospitalization– Less severe, typically manageable without hospitalization
Risk-Taking Behavior– Pronounced impulsivity and risk-taking– Mild impulsivity, less intense risk-taking
Diagnosis– Presence of at least one manic episode– Presence of at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode
Treatment– Medications, psychotherapy, and possible hospitalization– Medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle adjustments
Subtypes– Bipolar I has no subtypes– Bipolar II has no subtypes
Impact on Daily Functioning– Severe impact on daily life, relationships, and employment– Moderate impact on daily life, relationships, and employment
Bipolar 1 Vs 2 Informative Table

Remember that these disorders exist on a spectrum, and individual experiences can vary. Accurate diagnosis and treatment planning should be carried out by healthcare professionals based on a thorough evaluation of an individual’s symptoms and history.

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Bipolar Disorder Facts

Bipolar Disorder:

  • Mood Episodes: Characterized by distinct episodes of mania/hypomania and depression.
  • Duration: Mood episodes can last for days, weeks, or months.
  • Triggers: Episodes can occur without external triggers, and mood shifts are often unrelated to specific events.
  • Self-Image: Individuals typically have a stable sense of self and identity.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behaviors may occur during manic episodes.
  • Treatment: Mood-stabilizing medications are often prescribed, along with psychotherapy.

Types of bipolar disorder:

There are several types of bipolar disorder, including:

  • Bipolar I disorder: Characterized by manic episodes lasting at least seven days or severe manic symptoms requiring immediate hospitalization.
  • Bipolar II disorder: Involves a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not full-blown mania.
  • Cyclothymic disorder: Marked by numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that last for at least two years (one year for children and adolescents).

Symptoms:

The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary depending on the mood episode:

  • Manic episodes: Elevated mood, increased energy, racing thoughts, impulsivity, decreased need for sleep, excessive talking, grandiosity, and risky behavior.
  • Hypomanic episodes: Similar to manic episodes but with less severity and a shorter duration.
  • Depressive episodes: Persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Impact on daily life:

  • Bipolar disorder can significantly impact various aspects of a person’s life, including relationships, work or school performance, and overall quality of life. However, with proper treatment and support, individuals with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms effectively and lead fulfilling lives.

Bipolar Disorder Statistics

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition affecting millions worldwide. Characterized by alternating periods of intense mood swings, ranging from elevated states of mania to episodes of profound depression, bipolar disorder can significantly impact a person’s daily functioning, relationships, and overall quality of life.

In this article, we delve into the realm of bipolar disorder statistics, aiming to provide a comprehensive overview of its prevalence, demographic patterns, and the profound impact it has on individuals and society as a whole. By examining these statistics, we can gain valuable insights into the scale of the problem, identify potential risk factors, and highlight the importance of addressing bipolar disorder as a public health concern.

  • Prevalence: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.4% of the global population. It occurs equally among men and women and can develop at any age, although the typical age of onset is late adolescence to early adulthood.
  • Lifetime Risk: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that about 4.4% of adults in the United States will experience bipolar disorder at some point.
  • Comorbidity: Bipolar disorder often co-occurs with other mental health conditions. Studies show that approximately 60-70% of individuals with bipolar disorder have at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

2.4%

The global prevalence of bipolar disorder

Source: CDC

25 years

Bipolar disorder typically emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood

Source: NIMH

3:1

BPD is more commonly diagnosed in females

Source: NIH


Bipolar 1 And 2 Differences in Symptoms

The intensity and duration of bipolar 1 and 2 disorder symptoms can vary. While depressive and euphoric episodes characterize both subtypes, significant distinctions exist in the symptoms experienced. Here is a table highlighting the key differences in symptoms between Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder. Remember that the symptoms can vary in intensity and duration for each individual, and a proper diagnosis should be made by a healthcare professional based on a comprehensive assessment.

SymptomBipolar IBipolar II
Depressive EpisodesProlonged periods of low mood, loss of interest, worthlessnessProlonged periods of low mood, loss of interest, worthlessness
Manic or Hypomanic Episodes– Intense and prolonged manic episodes that may include psychosis, hallucinations, and grandiosity– Milder form of elevated mood (hypomania) without psychosis, less intense than mania
Duration of Manic/Hypomanic EpisodesAt least one week or requiring hospitalizationAt least four days
Severity of ImpulsivityPronounced impulsivity, severe risk-taking behaviorsMild impulsivity, less intense risk-taking
PsychosisCommon during manic episodesAbsent during hypomanic episodes
HospitalizationOften requires hospitalization during manic episodesRarely requires hospitalization during hypomanic episodes
DiagnosisPresence of at least one manic episodePresence of at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode

Individual experiences can vary, and healthcare professionals should carry out accurate diagnosis and treatment planning based on a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s symptoms and history.

The frequency, duration, and severity of episodes can vary between individuals with bipolar disorder, regardless of the subtype. Proper diagnosis by a healthcare professional is essential for determining the specific subtype and developing an appropriate treatment plan tailored to individual needs.

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Bipolar Disorder 1 And 2 Diagnosis

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder 1 and Bipolar Disorder 2 typically involves a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional. The diagnostic process includes clinical assessments, interviews, and a review of the individual’s medical and psychiatric history. Here’s an overview of the diagnostic criteria for both Bipolar Disorder 1 and Bipolar Disorder 2:

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder 1 (Bipolar I):

  • Manic Episode: The primary criteria for a Bipolar I diagnosis is at least one manic episode. A manic episode is characterized by a distinct period of abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and increased energy or activity. During this period, an individual may exhibit symptoms such as grandiosity, racing thoughts, increased goal-directed activity, decreased need for sleep, impulsivity, and more.
  • Duration: The manic episode must last at least one week, or if it is less severe and necessitates hospitalization, the duration requirement may be shorter.
  • Impairment: The manic episode must be severe enough to cause significant impairment in daily functioning or require hospitalization to protect the person or others.
  • Depressive Episodes: While a depressive episode is not required to diagnose Bipolar I, it is common for individuals with Bipolar I to experience depressive episodes characterized by prolonged periods of low mood, loss of interest, and other symptoms consistent with major depression.
Diagnosing Bipolar 1 and 2 typically involves a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional.
Diagnosing Bipolar 1 and 2 typically involves a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder 2 (Bipolar II):

  • Hypomanic Episode: A diagnosis of Bipolar II requires the presence of at least one hypomanic episode. A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode but less severe. It involves a distinct period of elevated mood, increased energy, and other associated symptoms. Hypomania is not powerful enough to cause significant impairment in daily functioning or require hospitalization.
  • Duration: The hypomanic episode must last for at least four consecutive days.
  • Major Depressive Episode: In addition to a hypomanic episode, individuals with Bipolar II must have experienced at least one major depressive episode, characterized by prolonged periods of low mood, loss of interest, and other depressive symptoms.
  • Exclusion of Manic Episodes: A critical distinction between Bipolar I and Bipolar II is that individuals with Bipolar II have never experienced a full-blown manic episode.

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What are the Key Differences Between Bipolar 1 And 2?

To be diagnosed with bipolar 2, you must have had at least one depressive episode. 
To be diagnosed with bipolar 2, you must have had at least one depressive episode. 

Bipolar 1 and 2 can have similar symptoms. The specific symptoms depend on which mood type of mood episode you’re experiencing. Here’s the main differences: 

  • People with bipolar 1 have had at least one manic episode in their lifetime.
  • People with bipolar 2 have never had a manic episode.

To be diagnosed with bipolar 2, you must have had at least one depressive episode. 

Both bipolar 1 and 2 involve depressive episodes characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating. The depressive episodes in both subtypes can be severe and may last for extended periods.

What’s the Difference Between a Manic and Hypomanic Episode?

The difference between a manic and hypomanic episode lies in the severity, duration, and impact on daily functioning. Understanding this difference is essential when considering the difference between bipolar 1 and 2 disorders.

Manic Episode:

  • Manic episodes are characteristic of bipolar 1 disorder.
  • They involve a distinct period of abnormally elevated mood, energy, and activity that lasts for at least one week.
  • During a manic episode, individuals may experience symptoms such as extreme euphoria, irritability, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, excessive talking, increased goal-directed activity, impulsivity, and engaging in high-risk behaviors.
  • Manic episodes can cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • Hospitalization may be required to ensure safety and stabilize symptoms.
  • Depressive episodes typically follow manic episodes, although they can also occur independently.

Hypomanic Episode:

  • Hypomanic episodes are characteristic of bipolar 2 disorder.
  • They are similar to manic episodes but are less severe in intensity and duration.
  • Hypomanic episodes last for at least four consecutive days.
  • During a hypomanic episode, individuals may experience elevated mood, increased energy, racing thoughts, increased self-confidence, decreased need for sleep (without severe impairment), increased talkativeness, increased goal-directed activity, and engaging in pleasurable or high-risk activities.
  • Hypomanic episodes do not cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning, and hospitalization is generally not required.
  • Depressive episodes often follow hypomanic episodes.

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Differences Between Bipolar 1 And 2 Treatments?

The treatment approaches for bipolar 1 and 2 disorders share many similarities but may also differ based on each individual’s severity and specific needs. The primary treatment goals for both subtypes are to stabilize mood, reduce the frequency and severity of mood episodes, and improve overall functioning and quality of life. Here are some common treatment strategies:

  • Medication:
    • Mood stabilizers: Medications such as lithium, valproate, or lamotrigine are commonly prescribed to help stabilize mood and prevent manic and depressive episodes.
    • Antipsychotics: Some atypical antipsychotic medications, such as quetiapine or aripiprazole, may manage manic symptoms in bipolar 1 disorder.
    • Antidepressants: In bipolar 2 disorder, antidepressants may be prescribed during depressive episodes. However, they are often combined with mood stabilizers to minimize the risk of inducing manic episodes (careful monitoring is essential).
    • The individual’s symptom profile: determines medication regimens, response to specific medications, and considerations for potential side effects.
  • Psychotherapy:
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help individuals identify and modify unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and patterns contributing to mood episodes. It may also focus on developing stress management strategies and enhancing coping skills.
    • Psychoeducation: Education about bipolar disorder, its symptoms, triggers, and treatment options can empower individuals to understand better and manage their condition.
    • Family-focused therapy: Involving family members in treatment can provide support, improve communication, and help create a supportive environment for the individual with bipolar disorder.
  • Lifestyle Adjustments:
    • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule: Consistent sleep patterns are essential for mood stability. Sufficient sleep and good sleep hygiene can help reduce the risk of mood episodes.
    • Healthy lifestyle choices: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding substances like alcohol and recreational drugs can contribute to overall well-being.
    • Stress management: Developing effective stress-management techniques, such as relaxation exercises or mindfulness practices, can help minimize the impact of stressors on mood stability.

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  1. What is the difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2?

    Diagnosis differentiates between bipolar 1 and 2 based on manic episodes in bipolar 1 and hypomanic episodes in bipolar 2.

  2. What is the biggest difference between bipolar 1 and 2?

    The most significant difference between bipolar 1 and 2 is the severity of the manic episodes experienced.

  3. What is bipolar 1 2 and cyclothymia?

    Bipolar 1 and 2 are subtypes of bipolar disorder characterized by distinct manic and depressive episodes, while cyclothymia is a milder form with cyclical mood swings that are less severe.

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Search For We Level Up FL Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2 Topics & Resources
Sources
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  2. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Bipolar Disorder Types: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
  3. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Bipolar Disorder Symptoms: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
  4. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
  5. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Bipolar Disorder Treatment: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Bipolar Disorder: https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma16-4960.pdf
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Bipolar Disorder Treatment: https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma16-4960.pdf
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Bipolar Disorder: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/index.htm
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Bipolar Disorder: https://provider.amerigroup.com/dam/publicdocuments/ALL_CARE_CF_V4I5Bipolar_mrdcoding_tips.pdf
  10. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Bipolar Disorder: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/bipolar.asp