Bipolar II Disorder
What Is Bipolar II?
Bipolar II disorder (pronounced ‘bipolar two’) is a form of mental illness. Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I disorder, with moods cycling between high and low over time.
However, in bipolar II disorder, the ‘up’ moods never reach full-on mania. The less-intense elevated moods in bipolar II disorder are called hypomanic episodes, or hypomania.
A person affected by bipolar II disorder has had at least one hypomanic episode in life. Most people with bipolar II disorder also suffer from episodes of depression. (This is where the term ‘manic depression’ comes from.)
In between episodes of hypomania and depression, many people with bipolar II disorder live normal lives.
Who Is At Risk for Bipolar II Disorder?
Virtually anyone can develop bipolar II disorder. About 2.5% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of bipolar disorder -- almost 6 million people.
Most people are in their teens or early 20s when symptoms first start. Nearly everyone with bipolar II disorder develops it before age 50. People with an immediate family member with bipolar are at higher risk.
What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder?
During a hypomanic episode, elevated mood can manifest itself as either euphoria (feeling ‘high’) or as irritability.
Symptoms during hypomanic episodes include:
• Flying suddenly from one idea to the next
• Rapid, ‘pressured’ speech
• Increased energy, with hyperactivity and decreased need for sleep
People experiencing hypomanic episodes are often quite pleasant to be around. They can makes jokes, taking an intense interest in other people and activities, and infecting others with their positive mood.
What's so bad about that, you might ask? Hypomania can also lead to erratic and unhealthy behavior. People in hypomanic episodes might spend money they don't have, and engage in other impulsive or risky behaviors.
Also, the vast majority of people with bipolar II disorder experience significant depressive episodes. These can occur soon after hypomania subsides, or much later. Some people cycle back and forth between hypomania and depression, while others have long periods of normal mood in between episodes.
Untreated, an episode of hypomania can last anywhere from a few days to several years. Most commonly, symptoms continue for a few weeks to a few months.
Depressive episodes in bipolar II disorder are similar to ‘regular’ clinical depression, with depressed mood, loss of pleasure, low energy and activity, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide. Depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder can last weeks, months, or rarely years.
Can Bipolar II Disorder Be Prevented?
The causes of bipolar disorder are not well understood. It's not known if bipolar II disorder can be prevented entirely.
It is possible to prevent some episodes of hypomania or depression, once bipolar disorder has developed. Regular therapy sessions with a psychologist or social worker can stabilize mood, leading to fewer hospitalizations and feeling better overall. Taking medicine on a regular basis also leads to fewer hypomanic or depressive episodes.
How Is Bipolar II Disorder Different From Other Types of Bipolar Disorder?
People with bipolar I disorder experience true mania -- a severe, abnormally elevated mood with erratic behavior. Manic symptoms lead to serious disruptions in life, causing legal or major personal problems.
In bipolar II disorder, the symptoms of elevate mood never reach full-on mania. Bipolar II can be thought of as a milder form of bipolar disorder.
What is Bipolar disorder?
Symptoms & Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I Disorder
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