Unlike bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar I, bipolar II disorder is not characterized by manic episodes but by depressive episodes as well as hypomanic episodes that occur in cycles. It’s one of the more commonly diagnosed types of bipolar disorder, and it can be disruptive for patients, making it difficult for them to have positive and healthy relationships or thrive in the workplace.
Often, in an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms, patients will turn to drugs and alcohol. This has the unfortunate effect of worsening the patient’s experience, often causing issues that include:
- Increased intensity of depressive symptoms
- More frequent cycles of mood episodes
- Longer periods of time spent in each mood
The good news, however, is that treatment can be extremely effective in helping patients to manage bipolar II disorder and substance abuse, if both are co-occurring. Contact us today for more information.
Bipolar II Disorder: Signs and Symptoms
Though it’s normal to experience depression or sadness from time to time as well as occasional moods characterized by excessive energy and intense focus, for the bipolar II disorder patient these episodic moods are extreme in nature and occur in a constant, uncontrollable pattern. The two mood episodes that define bipolar II include:
- Depressive episodes. Depressive episodes are defined by a prolonged period (at least two weeks) of feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and disinterest in taking part in life. Patients often feel fatigued, restless, agitated, unfocused, indecisive, and in some cases, suicidal.
- Hypomanic episodes. Less extreme than a full-blown manic episode, hypomanic episodes are defined by feeling incredibly productive and happy; patients often feel that they are in a high functioning mode. Many patients feel that there is nothing wrong during these periods, but family members may notice the change from their loved one’s usual behavior.
Often, bipolar II may be misdiagnosed as a depressive disorder because the hypomanic episodes go unnoticed or are perceived as normal by the patient and therefore not problematic. Without treatment, however, the hypomanic episodes can evolve into full manic episodes or severe depression.
Who Is at Risk for Bipolar II Disorder?
There is no single known cause of bipolar II disorder; in most cases, it is believed that there are a number of causative factors in play. One of the most prominent may be genetics. Bipolar II diagnoses tend to run in families. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 40 percent of participants with first-degree relatives diagnosed with bipolar II and 22 percent of those with first-degree relatives diagnosed with bipolar I disorder were diagnosed with bipolar II. Conversely, only one patient was diagnosed with bipolar I among those participants with first-degree relatives living with bipolar II disorder, making bipolar II by far the most commonly diagnosed type of the disorder based on genetics alone.
Some studies demonstrate a correlation between certain issues that occur prenatally and a later diagnosis of bipolar disorder, though no causative effects have been identified. Also, environment may play a part, and some believe that if genetics are an issue, in some cases it can take a triggering event on the par of trauma for symptoms to begin.
Topics of Interest:
- History of Mental Health Treatment
- Addiction Treatment Alternatives: The Way to Harm Reduction
- Race and Recovery
Co-occurring Disorders: Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Bipolar II
Whether patients abuse drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate their bipolar II disorder symptoms or their substance abuse pre-dates their mental health issues, it is important that they undergo treatment at a Dual Diagnosis treatment center that applies evidence-based therapeutic and pharmacological services to each patient based on their needs in recovery.
Find the right program for your loved one today when you contact our admissions coordinators at the phone number listed above.
Further Reading About Bipolar II
- A Symptoms Checklist
- Bipolar Disorder and Klonopin Abuse
- Bipolar II
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Intervention for Manic Episodes
- Isolation and Bipolar Disorder
- Mixed Bipolar Disorder
- Protecting Your Children by Finding Healing for Yourself
- Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder
- Self-Absorption and Bipolar Disorder
- Stimulant Use
- Substance Abuse and the Risk of Suicidal Ideation
- The Costs of Bipolar Treatment Services
- Untreated Bipolar Disorder Can Lead to Increased Risk of Domestic Violence
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton