People with bipolar disorder have swings in their moods that are more intense and often more frequent than usual. There are four types of bipolar disorder, and sometimes people mistakenly believe that bipolar disorder 2 is just a milder version of bipolar 1. However, they’re separate conditions with similar but differing diagnostic criteria.
The moods that can affect people with bipolar disorder are depression, mania and hypomania, which is a milder and more manageable form of mania. People with bipolar I experience mania, and although depression is common, it isn’t a necessary criterion for diagnosis. People with bipolar disorder II don’t experience full mania, but they do experience depression and hypomania.
Although people with bipolar disorder 2 have manic symptoms that are less severe than in bipolar I, they may have equal or more severe depression. The Mayo Clinic notes that people with bipolar disorder 2 can be depressed for more extended periods than people with bipolar 1. Their lives can be significantly affected.
The depression is similar to non-bipolar clinical depression. It involves low energy, inability to feel pleasure and feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt. In bipolar disorder 2, depression can last weeks, months, or in rare cases years.
The National Institute of Health notes that hypomania of bipolar disorder II generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks at a time. Most patients interpret it as pleasant, at least initially, although it can become less so as it progresses.
People tend to feel more upbeat, social and energetic than usual. On the other hand, they may also feel more distracted and irritable. They’re more likely to take risks.
Bipolar Disorder 2: Diagnosis and Treatment
One of the challenges of treating bipolar disorder is that when people experience mania or hypomania, they tend not to see their need for help. However, it’s not just the depression of bipolar disorder 2 that can cause problems.
Hypomania can cause problems, too. People experiencing hypomania may spend money unwisely, engage in unsafe sex, drive dangerously and abuse alcohol or drugs. Researchers report that these actions can lead to financial challenges, interpersonal conflicts and feelings of guilt and shame. Despite this, only a small percentage of patients who experience hypomania agree that it indicates a need for mental health treatment.
Because people with bipolar disorder 2 tend to seek help only when they’re experiencing depressive symptoms, it’s common for them to receive an incorrect diagnosis of clinical depression. Unfortunately, some of the medications used to treat depression can increase the risk of mania or hypomania. It’s important to be diagnosed correctly to be treated correctly.
Bipolar disorder is generally treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizing medications are frequently prescribed, and if doctors decide that an antidepressant is an appropriate choice for a specific patient, it’s generally combined with a mood-stabilizing drug.
Psychotherapy can help in various ways, including helping people identify and avoid any circumstances, thoughts or feelings that might trigger a hypomanic or depressive episode. Therapists can also help people learn to manage stress. If there are co-occurring conditions like substance use disorder, they need to be addressed, preferably in a coordinated and integrated manner.
We understand that bipolar disorder can be challenging to navigate. But you or your loved one are not alone. At Promises Five Palms, we work with clients to help provide the best care possible while also providing the tools to manage everyday life.
Let us help you get back to the life you love.
Call us today at 844.675.0962 to speak with our recovery specialists and find the best options for you.
By Martha McLaughlin