Unlike the symptoms of raging mania indicative of bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder symptoms usually don’t result in direct hospitalization. While mania is still present, it is more of a hypomania state, which doesn’t typically interfere with everyday functioning. Hypomania also never includes the psychotic episodes that can occur during a full-blown manic episode.

To be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, a person must exhibit at least one major depressive episode as well as one hypomanic episode, lasting at least four days. Bipolar II is characterized most often by the major depressive episodes. Sufferers of bipolar II disorder spend about 50 percent of their time depressed and only about one percent hypomanic, according to a study done in 2002 by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar II disorder is a disorder affecting the parts of the brain responsible for mood. Those suffering from any type of bipolar disorder experience dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and levels of activity. These shifts can occur rapidly or over a period of time but are more severe than everyday mood swings and severe enough to affect daily life.

Symptoms of hypomania include:
  • Periods of extreme talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts and ideas
  • Needing less sleep
  • Distractible
  • Engaging in pleasurable activities that may be risky
  • Highly sociable
  • More goal-oriented and focused
  • Poor decision-making

Periods of hypomania are out of character but may not affect social or occupational functioning. They can have disastrous outcomes, however, as those in a hypomanic state may be more prone to excessive spending or other questionable decisions.

Major depressive episodes are far more common in someone suffering from bipolar II disorder. These symptoms include:
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of pleasure in most all aspects of life
  • Extreme sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt

Bipolar II disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression and treated with merely an antidepressant. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar II, someone must also have periods of hypomania, and obtaining the correct diagnosis is vital to receiving the proper treatment and care.

Another risk factor for those suffering from bipolar II disorder is that of substance abuse and addiction. Often, those suffering will choose substance abuse as a way to escape and a form of self-medication. Substance abuse can also increase symptoms and even cause manic or depressive episodes, further masking the real disorder and making diagnosis and treatment more difficult.

Treatment Options

Receiving the proper treatment starts with the correct diagnosis. Those suffering from bipolar disorder may attempt suicide at least once between 25 and 50 percent of the time, as published by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Substance abuse and addiction can further complicate treatment. A dual diagnosis treatment center works to treat both disorders simultaneously and successfully through integrated treatment plans.

Many treatments exist to help those suffering from bipolar II disorder to manage their symptoms and lead a happy and healthy life. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, commonly known as CBT, is a tool often employed to teach life skills and to help people understand the triggers that lead to their symptoms. Individual, group and family therapy, as well as medication in some cases, are used as well.

Black Bear Lodge is a treatment center located in the scenic mountainside of northern Georgia and is staffed with medical professionals ready to help develop a comprehensive and individual treatment plan that can address a number of mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. If you’d like more information, call us at 706-914-2327 today.