What Is Bipolar II Disorder?

Bipolar II disorder, which is also called type II bipolar disorder, is a form of bipolar disorder that does not involve full-blown mania. A lesser elevated mood called hypomania, or literally “below mania,” is as “up” as a person with bipolar II will ever become.

Because the symptoms of hypomania can be more difficult to recognize, this condition can be challenging to diagnose and treat. With the proper help, however, a person suffering from type II bipolar disorder can experience real relief from his or her emotional symptoms.

Symptoms of Hypomania

The symptoms of mania include extremely high energy, tendencies toward aggression, impatience with others and a tendency to make rash and unwise decisions with relationships and money. While these symptoms can be relatively easy to spot, the following symptoms of hypomania often go undiagnosed:

  • Prolonged elevated mood and energy and less need for sleep
  • Delusions of grandeur
  • Talkativeness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive risk taking

Many people describe hypomanic episodes as extremely pleasurable. They feel emotionally up, confident and optimistic. This euphoria may last for a few hours or several days. If it were not for the risk of the emotional swing toward depression and the fact that hypomanic episodes tend to be short-lived, individuals with this particular disorder might resist treatment. If left untreated, however, hypomania and major depression can take over a person’s life.

Symptoms of Major Depression

Many people misunderstand the symptoms of major depression as a case of “the blues” or primarily recognize it as a sad mood. The truth is that depression can involve any of the following symptoms:

  • An inability to feel negative or positive emotions (numbness)
  • Lack of interest in previously important activities
  • Relational disconnection
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Frequent crying

A diagnosis of bipolar II disorder requires at least one episode of major depression and one episode of hypomania, but not in equal measures. Most individuals with bipolar II tend to spend more time depressed than hypomanic.

Treating Bipolar II Disorder Effectively

While there is no cure for bipolar II disorder, there are many new and emerging treatment approaches that can provide significant relief from its symptoms. Various forms of counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, help patients learn how to manage their emotions instead of being managed by them. Patients can learn to recognize the onset of either depressive or hypomanic episodes and can respond proactively and preventatively.

When substance abuse is also involved or the depressive episodes have involved thoughts of self-harm, these programs are offered in peaceful, comfortable and respectful residential formats.