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What Is Bipolar 2 Disorder

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Who Experiences Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar II Disorder? Speaking of Symptoms Series

Bipolar disorder usually begins in older teens and young adults, with at least half of all cases appearing before age 25. Children and adolescents, however, can develop this disease in more severe forms and often in combination with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder . Some studies have indicated that bipolar depression is genetically inherited, occurring more commonly within families.

While bipolar disorder occurs equally in women and men, women are more likely to meet criteria for bipolar II disorder. Women with bipolar disorder may switch moods more quickly this is called “rapid cycling.” Varying levels of sex hormones and activity of the thyroid gland in the neck, together with the tendency to be prescribed antidepressants, may contribute to the more rapid cycling seen in women. Women may also experience more periods of depression than men.

An estimated 60 percent of all people with bipolar disorder have drug or alcohol dependence. It has also been shown to occur frequently in people with seasonal depression and certain anxiety disorders, like post-traumatic stress disorder .

Go To Couples Counseling

Couples counseling is essential for working through upset over a bipolar partners actions. Its common for someone with bipolar disorder to hurt and offend their partner. When someone is first diagnosed, there are often relationship issues that need to be addressed. Couples counseling can help you:

  • Understand that theres an illness involved in the hurtful behavior.
  • Forgive the behavior that happened during an altered mood state.
  • Set boundaries with a partner about maintaining treatment.

What It Means To Have Bipolar Ii

Approximately 2.5% of Americans have a bipolar-spectrum mood disorder thats about six million people. Most people have heard of bipolar I disorder, or just the term bipolar, which involves dramatic shifts in mood, day-to-day functioning, and energy level. Living with bipolar I typically means having at least one manic episode followed by a period of depression.

Since I had never experienced full-blown maniawhich causes major behavior changes like reckless spending, risky sex, or foolish investingI didnt meet the criteria for bipolar I disorder. But I did meet the criteria for bipolar II. I’d had at least one major depressive episode .

To be diagnosed with bipolar II, I also had to experience a hypomanic episode, which is a period of increased energy, exaggerated confidence, racing thoughts, poor decision making, and/or decreased need for sleep. It was clear to me and my psychiatrist that I had experienced plenty of both.

But let’s be clear: neither disorder is better or worse than the other. While bipolar I mania can be dangerous, bipolar II disorder often comes with longer depressive episodes. And people with bipolar II don’t always experience one type of episode or the other. Even without treatment, there may have symptom-free periods characterized by a stable mood.

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Whos At Risk For Bipolar Ii

So, scientists are looking at what could cause Bipolar Disorder and theyve agreed that there isnt one single underlying factor. Instead there are several that when combined could increase your chances of getting the disorder.

If these risk factors apply to you it doesnt necessarily mean that you will end up being diagnosed as bipolar, and if you have been diagnosed this might help explain how you ended up with this condition.

Some of the risk factors that have been identified are summarized below:

  • Research studies are geared towards seeing which medications work best. Identifying which part of the brain is affected is a major step forward, but it will take years before any concrete results are published.
  • Family history does play a role, though it is not yet fully understood. Research studies on twins emphasizes this. The disorder does tend to run in families, but just because a close relative is Bipolar doesnt mean that you will be too.
  • Basically, if you want to know your risk factors, look at your familys mental health history. There are no real guidelines, so even if you dont fall into these risk categories always speak to a counselor or mental health advisor if you feel like something is wrong.

    What Types Of Bipolar Are There

    Bipolar Disorder

    Depending on the way you experience different bipolar moods and symptoms, and how severely they affect you, your doctor my diagnose you with a particular type of bipolar disorder. These are some terms your doctor might use.

    Bipolar I

    • You may be told you have bipolar I if you have experienced at least one episode of mania which has lasted longer than a week.
    • You might also have experienced depressive episodes, although not everyone does.

    Bipolar II

    • You may get a diagnosis of bipolar II if you have experienced both at least one episode of severe depression and symptoms of hypomania.


    • You may get a diagnosis of cyclothymia if you have experienced both hypomanic and depressive mood states over the course of two years or more and your symptoms aren’t severe enough to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of bipolar I or bipolar II.
    • This can be a difficult diagnosis to receive, because you may feel that you are being told your symptoms are ‘not serious enough’, but this is not the case. Mental health is a spectrum that encompasses lots of different experiences and cyclothymia can have a serious impact on your life.

    Using these terms can help both you and health professionals discuss your diagnosis and treatment more specifically. If your doctor ever uses words or phrases you don’t understand, you can ask them to explain.

    ” cyclothymia. It can make you feel more like it must be all in your head as the symptoms are often not as extreme as bipolar.”

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    What Is The Outlook

    Bipolar disorder isnt curable. But with proper treatment and support from family and friends, you can manage your symptoms and maintain your quality of life.

    Its important that you follow your doctors instructions regarding medications and other lifestyle choices. This includes:

    Including your friends and family members in your care can be especially helpful.

    Its also helpful to learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know about the condition, the more in control you may feel as you adjust to life after diagnosis.

    You may be able to repair strained relationships. Educating others about bipolar disorder may make them more understanding of hurtful events from the past.

    How Common Is Bipolar Disorder

    At some point during their lifetime, 2.4% of people worldwide and 4.4% of people in the United States will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While the cause of bipolar disorder is unclear, having a first-degree relative with the condition is a recognized risk factor. Most people with a relative with bipolar disorder will not develop the condition, however.

    Theresa Chiechi / Verywell

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    Patterns Of Depression And Mania

    If you have bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of depression more regularly than episodes of mania, or vice versa.

    Between episodes of depression and mania, you may sometimes have periods where you have a “normal” mood.

    The patterns are not always the same and some people may experience:

    • rapid cycling where a person with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a high to a low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between
    • mixed state where a person with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of depression and mania together for example, overactivity with a depressed mood

    If your mood swings last a long time but are not severe enough to be classed as bipolar disorder, you may be diagnosed with a mild form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia.

    What Causes Bipolar Disorder

    What is Bipolar II Disorder? Mental Health with Kati Morton

    Bipolar disorder tends to run in families, and its caused by a mix of genes and environment. Theres not one gene for bipolar there are several dozen and its not fair to call them bipolar genes because they do a lot else, and they can do a lot of good. They dont even cause bipolar unless they get turned on activated by stress in the environment. Here are some of the top stressors that can flip these genes the wrong way:

    • Drug use, including recreational drugs like cocaine or marijuana, but also drugs that doctors prescribe like stimulants and antidepressants.
    • Stress, particularly a lot of intense fighting in the family
    • Medical problems, especially infections that affect the brain or head injuries
    • Anything that disrupts sleep, including shift work, electronic light at night and travel across 2 or more time-zones.

    Actually those stresses can cause any mental illness, but the last one sleep disruption is the one thats pretty unique to bipolar. You see, the main genes that cause bipolar are the same ones that program the bodys internal clock, or circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm keeps mental and physical functions like sleep, appetite, concentration, and energy running on a 24 hour clock so we sleep at night, wake up in the morning, and feel alert and motivated during the daytime when we need to.

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    Are There Benefits To Having Bipolar Disorder Ii

    At least one expert has gone so far as to suggest hypomania can be an asset.

    Psychologist John Gartner believes part of the reason America is so rich and powerful is the presence of so many hypomanic individuals. Gartner said:

    Hypomania, a genetically based form of mild mania, endows many of us with energy, creativity, enthusiasm, and a propensity for taking risks. America has an extraordinarily high number of hypomanicsgrandiose types who leap on every wacky idea that occurs to them, utterly convinced it will change the world. Market bubbles and ill-considered messianic crusades can be the downside. But there is an enormous upside as well, in spectacular entrepreneurial zeal, drive for innovation and material success. Americans may have a lot of crazy ideas, but some of them prove to be brilliant inventions. John Gartner, Ph.D., The Hypomanic Edge

    He is referring to the milder manifestations of hypomania that can make symptoms both a curse and a blessing.

    Some people might agree with this, but remember that along with hypomania there is also the depression that kicks in at some point. You might get more tasks accomplished when you are running day and night, never feeling tired, but what about when you come down from this high energy, do-it-all state? Chances are, not a lot will be started or finished at this point. Even if you only have mild depression that lasts for a brief time, there is no guarantee that the depression wont get worse over time.

    What Is A Mood Disorder

    Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder that primarily affects a person’s emotional state. People with a mood disorder can experience long periods of extreme happiness, sadness, or both. Mood disorders can cause changes in behavior and affect a person’s ability to function in daily life, such as at work or school. Major depressive disorder is another common mood disorder.

    The frequency, duration, and kind of episodes are what defines the type of bipolar disorder that a person has. There are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia.

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    What Is Bipolar Ii Disorder Definition Symptoms Treatment

    Bipolar II disorder is a type of bipolar disorder with elevated or irritable moods that differ from those found in bipolar disorder type I . Bipolar disorder type II has a slightly greater prevalence. While approximately one percent of people in the United States will develop bipolar disorder type I in their lifetime, approximately 1.1 percent of people will develop bipolar disorder type II. Some researchers have found these rates to be climbing in recent years, however. More women than men experience bipolar disorder type II.

    Bipolar disorder type II is characterized by severe mood episodes, both of an elevated or irritated nature and of a depressed nature. These elevated or irritable moods are called manias or manic moods in bipolar disorder type I and hypomanias or hypomanic moods in bipolar disorder type II with hypomania literally meaning less than mania. Some people would call bipolar disorder type II soft bipolar disorder as it contains these less severe hypomanias. It should not be inferred, however, that one case of bipolar disorder is less severe than another, overall, simply by its type. There are severe cases of bipolar disorder type I and bipolar disorder type II it varies by individual.

    Coping With Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar II disorder

    Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but there are ways to help make it easier for yourself, a friend, or a loved one.

    • Get treatment and stick with itrecovery takes time and its not easy. But treatment is the best way to start feeling better.
    • Keep medical and therapy appointments and talk with the provider about treatment options.
    • Take all medicines as directed.
    • Structure activities: keep a routine for eating and sleeping, and make sure to get enough sleep and exercise.
    • Learn to recognize your mood swings and warning signs, such as decreased sleep.
    • Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment.
    • Be patient improvement takes time. Social support helps.
    • Avoid misuse of alcohol and drugs.

    Remember: Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, but long-term, ongoing treatment can help control symptoms and enable you to live a healthy life.

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    What Is Bipolar 2 Disorder

    Bipolar 2 disorder involves a major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode . People with bipolar 2 typically dont experience manic episodes intense enough to require hospitalization.

    Bipolar 2 is sometimes misdiagnosed as depression, as depressive symptoms may be the major symptom at the time the person seeks medical attention. When there are no manic episodes to suggest bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms become the focus.

    As mentioned above, bipolar 1 disorder causes mania and may cause depression, while bipolar 2 disorder causes hypomania and depression. Lets learn more about what these symptoms mean.

    Whats The Difference Between Bipolar I And Bipolar Ii

    Some Important Difference between Bipolar I and Bipolar II are:

    Bipolar I Disorder

    1. Includes a history of as much as one full insane incident.

    2. Is often to instead with a depressive scene.

    3. May involve psychotic features in the further context of humour episodes.

    Bipolar II Disorder

    1. Include a history of as much as one hypo-manic incident and no history of the full insane incident.

    2. Is often instead with depressive episodes.

    3. Psychosis is absent.

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    Both Types Should Be Properly Treated

    Since hypomania is less severe than the mania that occurs in bipolar I disorder, bipolar II is often described as “milder” than bipolar Ibut this is not completely accurate. Certainly, people with bipolar I can have more serious symptoms during mania, but hypomania is still a serious condition that can have life-changing consequences and so should be properly addressed.

    In addition, research suggests that bipolar II disorder is dominated by longer and more severe episodes of depression. In fact, over time, people with bipolar II become less likely to return to fully normal functioning between episodes.

    One study specifically concluded that bipolar type II was linked to a poorer health-related quality of life compared to type I. This remained true even during long periods of euthymia.

    Thus, experts tend to believe that bipolar II disorder is equally disabling than bipolar I disorder because it can lead to more lifetime days spent depressed and not doing as well overall between episodes. Proper treatment should be pursued for all types of bipolar disorders, and you should work closely with your healthcare team to figure out the best treatment for you.

    How Do You Diagnose Bipolar

    What is Bipolar 2 Disorder?

    It took a little while for the doctors to figure out Bretts diagnosis. Thats not unusual. On average, it takes about 10 years and 3 visits to mental health professionals to arrive at a correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder. When it first comes on, it may look like depression, or even anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder . The tell-tale manic episodes might not start until later, or they may be mild as in hypomania and easily forgotten because they didnt cause much of a problem.

    Drug use can also confuse the picture, as it did for Brett. Brett was using drugs before his first episode, so the doctors were hopeful that it was a bad reaction to drugs that would go away. But his third episode came on without any drug use, and thats when he was finally told about the diagnosis.

    Ten years is too long to wait to get an accurate diagnosis, and there are things you can do to speed up the process. It sounds simple, but a paper-and-pencil rating scale is helpful in making the diagnosis. Google Mood Disorder Questionnaire for a popular one, or go to our measurement page. You can also have a family member fill one out one from their viewpoint.

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    Bipolar Relationships: What To Expect

    Ups and downs are natural in any romantic relationship, but when your partner has bipolar disorder it can feel like youre on an emotional rollercoaster. Not knowing what to expect each day is stressful and tiring. Over time, it wears on the relationship.

    Understanding why your partner acts out sometimes or becomes withdrawn is the first supportive step you can take in strengthening your relationship. Learn exactly what a bipolar diagnosis means, how it could affect your partners behavior and what you can do to foster a healthy, stable relationship.

    Bipolar Disorder In Children And Teens Is Not Uncommon

    Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed during later teen years or early adulthood. However, symptoms of BD can often show up in young children.

    It can be difficult to tell whether teens are experiencing normal mood swings or showing signs of a serious mental health condition.

    Its important for parents, caregivers, friends, and family members to watch for mood swings that differ from typical behavior. Behavioral changes can be a sign of the onset of a mental health concern.

    The most important thing to do if you are concerned is to ask for help. Even if the child is not diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there may be another mental health issue that needs to be addressed.

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