What Is Bipolar Type 2?
Bipolar Type 2 also known as Bipolar II disorder is a mental affliction or disorder that is quite similar to a more commonly known mental illness known as bipolar disorder or bipolar I. These disorders center on the concept that moods in the brain are not maintained as evenly as they may be in a normal test group. The variations in the moods are more erratic and more intense. People with bipolar disorders experience higher highs and lower lows. Additionally, the transition between them is more frequent and not necessarily based on external stimulus.
Visualize a sine wave where the oscillating line varies only slightly above and below the center line in long gradual slopes. That would represent normal mood variations. In people with bipolar disorder, the rises and troughs in the oscillating line would be more frequent and would travel much further from center producing steeper slopes. In the no-so-perfect image below the blue line would represent a scenario closer to normal than the red line although the height of the slope should not be as high or as far from center as it is shown here. This is just a generic example. A “normal” line would likely be much flatter.
Bipolar Type 2 differs from type 1 in that the elevated highs or lows are not quite as frequent or intense as those associated with bipolar 1. The high feelings do not develop into the intense mania and the lows are not as intense as the major depression associated with bipolar 1. Moods are still elevated and depressed at times but these episodes are less frequent and less intense. These manic periods of lesser intensity are described as hypo-mania or “under”-mania.
Both forms of bipolar illness were in the past often diagnosed and classified as manic depression in part due to the fact that only the lows were commonly recognized as problematic by sufferers. Most people didn’t complain about feeling good so only the depression stood out. Both bipolar type 2 and type 1 were commonly diagnosed in this way in the past.
Additionally, people suffering from bipolar type 2 are often not suffering at all. The periods between episodes of hypomania and depression is often much longer and since the intensity of the episodes is sometimes manageable, people with bipolar type 2 often lead very “normal” lives.
Signs or Symptoms of Bipolar Type 2
As we previously discussed, people afflicted with this bipolar 2 disorder often experience hypo manic episodes. These episodes are often manifested as intense feelings of “high” or unexplainable happiness with feelings of euphoria or highly elevated energy levels that at time can even appear to be drug induced.
- Compulsive behavior
- Inability to focus on one thing for long periods
- Erratic or intensified speech patterns
- Elevated heart rate
- Insomnia (often voluntary)
At times it is difficult to tell that someone is experiencing one of these episodes. They can appear happy, well-adjusted, energetic and fun to be around. They will often crave social interaction and seek the center of attention. They might be brimming with positive energy and so others around them think highly of them and appreciate their company.
The indications that there might be some kind of unhealthy underlying condition start to appear when the behavior becomes erratic or impulsive. At times, people experiencing this hypomania period might make bad, irresponsible, disruptive or even dangerous decisions and take risks that they may not normally take.
The Signs displayed during the low periods would often mirror those normally associated with depression but may be slightly less intense as those experienced by people enduring full-blown major depressive disorder or bipolar 1. They may include the following:
- Lack of motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive sleeping or even insomnia
- Sadness or feelings of guilt
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts or attempts at suicide
Many people who suffer from bipolar type 2 disorder experience significant depression or depressive episodes. They will vary in intensity and frequency. At times they may occur directly after the high periods while at other times, there may be extended normal periods in between. You may be thinking that this all sounds like fairly normal behavior. We all experience slight highs, lows and periods in between. The difference is that people with bipolar type 2 will experience them in less appropriate situations and they will generally be significantly more intense.
The illness can be difficult to identify in people who transition mildly or less frequently. These symptoms can last for long periods of time so they don’t always look like mood swings.
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.
Who Can Get Bipolar Type 2 Disorder?
There are studies that suggest that bipolar type 2, like many other mental health issues are genetically related or hereditary. People with close family members who suffer from the condition or similar conditions are statistically shown to be a greater risk for developing bipolar type 2.
In truth however, anyone can be at risk. The affliction is actually quite common an affects a significant portion of the global population. Many studies show that his number can be as high as over 2% of the population.
Typically people will start to shown the signs of bipolar type 2 or type 1 while relatively young. The symptoms usually appear in the teenage years or in the early 20’s. Rarely does this condition develop later in life (after age 50). Similar symptoms that materialize later in life will generally indicate the presence of other illnesses with some common or similar symptoms.
How Do I Treat Bipolar Type 2?
As I mentioned above, the highs associated with bipolar type 2 (hypo-mania) are not always problematic and often they do not motivate patients to seek treatment. After all, who goes to the doctor when they feel good? In most cases, treatment is sought during periods of depression or lowness.
In any case, treatment is generally in the form of medication prescribed by a qualified medical professional such as a psychiatrist. In other cases, other forms of therapy may be utilized by psychologists or similar licensed professionals. If you feel that you need help with any type of mental illness, it is always highly recommended that you seek the counsel of a doctor and get proper diagnosis and treatment.