Learn About Bipolar 2 Disorder: How to Spot the Typical Symptoms of Hypomania


Bipolar 2 disorder is a milder type of bipolar disorder than the classic form of “manic-depression”, now known as bipolar 1 disorder.

Although the mood of a person with bipolar type 2 disorder cycles between a “low” or depressed state, and an elevated or “high” state, they do not get the severe symptoms of full mania such as hallucinations and delusions.

Instead they go through episodes of a milder type of mania, called “hypomania,” with comparatively mild symptoms.

But the symptoms of bipolar type 2 disorder – also known as bipolar II and bipolar type 2 disorder – can still be severely disruptive, and may make normal life almost impossible until the symptoms pass.

The Relatively Mild Symptoms of Hypomania Can Be Subtle and Hard to Recognize

They might be mistaken for a positive change in mood and productivity, especially if an episode of depression has recently ended.

Some people even like how they feel when they are in a hypomanic phase: they may feel energetic, outgoing, creative, funny, or sexy.

But these feelings are symptoms of the illness, and if left untreated they can become worse.

Fortunately bipolar 2 type disorder is rare and modern treatments that combine medications with psychological training and self-help techniques have been shown to be very effective.

What You’ll Find on this Page

On this page you can read information about bipolar type 2 disorder, its symptoms, who it affects, and how it is treated.

In the section titled Bipolar Type 2 Disorder you can learn how bipolar Type 2 disorder is different from other types of bipolar disorder.

You can also learn about Bipolar Type 2 Disorder Symptoms and why they are sometimes mistaken for symptoms of “unipolar” depressive disorders, such as major depression.

You can also read about just who is a risk from bipolar type 2 disorder by bipolar 2 disorder, and about treatments for bipolar type 2 disorder.

You can also read more about the different types of bipolar disorder, bipolar symptoms and bipolar disorder treatments here.

What Is Bipolar Type 2 Disorder

Bipolar 2 disorder is a type of mental illness known as a “mood disorder” because its main symptoms are unusual changes in a person’s emotional state, or mood.

In any bipolar disorder, the mood of a patient cycles between the emotional “poles” of mania and depression.

Episodes of bipolar symptoms can last for weeks or months, and usually cause severe distress and disruption in a person’s life.

But Patients with Bipolar Type 2 Disorder Do not Have Episodes of Full Mania

Instead they go through episodes of a mild type mania known as hypomania.

Many of the symptoms of hypomania are similar to the symptoms of full mania experienced by people with bipolar 1 disorder.

But the symptoms of hypomania are less intense, and they do not include the most severe type 1 symptoms of hallucinations and delusions.

The Symptoms of Mania in Bipolar 2 Disorder Can Be Subtle and Can Be Hard Even for a Doctor to Recognize

It can be hard to tell if someone’s really good mood is the result of the normal emotional functioning in response to our daily lives, or a symptom of mild mania.

But although some hypomanic symptoms might seem positive – such as feeling you have more energy or creativity – they are symptoms of the illness, and the illness can get worse if they are not treated.

People going through an episode of hypomania are starting to lose touch with reality. They might do impulsive and irrational things – such as going on a shopping spree with credit cards that they can’t pay back.

Or their behavior could damage their relationships with their friends, families, or colleagues at work.

But Bipolar Type 2 Disorder Can Be Effectively Controlled

The good news is that bipolar type 2 disorder is quite rare and its symptoms can be controlled very effectively with modern medications, psychological training, and self-help techniques.

Bipolar Type 2 Disorder Symptoms

People with bipolar type 2 disorder go through mood cycles of depression and hypomania – episodes of “elated”, “euphoric” or “elevated” mood.

Each episode of hypomania or depression can last from a few days to several weeks, with periods of relatively normal mood in between.

People with bipolar type 2 disorder do not get the severe manic symptoms of full bipolar 1 mania, such as delusions and hallucinations.

But they can experience mixed bipolar states, when they have symptoms of both depression and hypomania at the same time, such as binging on high calorie foods to avoid feelings of guilt about overeating.

List of Bipolar 2 Hypomania Symptoms

Some symptoms of hypomania can include:

  • An unusually optimistic and positive mood
  • Going without sleep but not feeling tired during the day
  • Increased creativity and Increased drive to achieve goals
  • Speaking quickly and with unusual enthusiasm
  • Agitated, irritable or aggressive behavior
  • Losing appetite and interest in food and losing weight
  • Impulsive pleasure-seeking behavior
  • Poor judgment
  • Spending sprees and bad financial decisions
  • Talking or thinking about sex more often
  • Substance abuse

It can be hard to recognize many of these symptoms, especially after a period of depression has ended.

Many people may not recognize their own symptoms – they think they are just feeling better.

A person may not recognize their manic symptoms as an aspect of their illness – especially after a bout of depression has lifted, when some manic symptoms can easily be mistaken for a return to a normal mood.

Some people may like the way they feel when they are hypomanic – such as being full of energy and ideas, or unusually productive, or maybe talkative and outgoing.

Symptoms of Bipolar Type 2 Depression Can Be Confused with Symptoms Unipolar Depression

The symptoms of depressive episodes of bipolar type 2 disorder are similar to those for other bipolar disorders, such as overpowering feelings of sadness, grief, despair or guilt.

Most people with bipolar disorder 2 first seek treatment from their doctors for episodes of depression, which tend to last longer than episodes of hypomania.

But because their hypomanic symptoms can go unnoticed for what they are, the symptoms of bipolar depression can get confused with a “unipolar” depressive disorder – such as so-called “major depression.”

While there are many common features between unipolar depression and bipolar depressive episodes, researchers have shown there are several differences.

People with unipolar depression are more likely to oversleep and still feel tired, for example, but people with bipolar depression are more likely to suffer from sleeplessness and fatigue.

Bipolar Depressive Episodes and Unipolar Depressive Disorders Are also Treated Differently

The anti-depressants commonly used to treat most unipolar depressive disorders have a risk of triggering a hypomanic or manic episode, so special anti-depressants are prescribed in their place.

People diagnosed with bipolar type 2 disorder will often be taking some type of mood-stabilizing drug such as Lithium, in addition to special anti-depressant when they are needed.

You can read more about bipolar and unipolar depression on the page What Is Bipolar Disorder.

A Diagnosis of Bipolar 2 Disorder Can only Be Made by a Doctor

You can’t diagnose yourself with any sort of bipolar disorder, and you can’t learn if you are bipolar by taking an online bipolar disorder test.

Bipolar disorder is relatively rare, and affects only about 1 percent of adults, so most people have nothing to worry about.

But if you think you may be bipolar then you should see a doctor to get treatment.

If you think that you may have signs of bipolar symptoms, or see signs of bipolar behavior in someone you know, it is important that you talk about it with a doctor at your local clinic or hospital.

You can read more on this page where you can get help.

You can also read about some of the problems with recognizing bipolar symptoms.

Who Is at Risk?

Bipolar disorder is estimated to affect about one percent of adults, and about half of those are thought to have bipolar type 2.

That means about 30 million people worldwide could have this disorder.

Most people develop bipolar 2 disorder between the ages of 15 and 25, and men tend to develop the disorder a few years earlier than women.

Often the symptoms of bipolar type 2 disorder can be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions, especially “unipolar” depression.

Or they might be confused with the mood swings and character changes that many people go though in their teenage and early adult years.

Bipolar Type 2 Disorder Is a Real Medical Condition and More than Just Having a “Good” or “Bad” Day

Scientists know learned that the symptoms of bipolar disorder are caused by abnormal chemical changes in parts of the brain that control our moods. But they don’t know why those chemical changes happen.

They do know that bipolar disorder has a genetic link, because people are more likely to develop bipolar disorder if someone else in their family has a mood disorder.

But at the same time it has environmental and psychological factors. Bipolar episodes can be “triggered” by what seem to everyday events, emotional stress, illness, allergies, or changes in the weather.

Psychological training to avoid such environmental and psychological triggers is now an important part of effective modern treatments for bipolar 2 disorder.

Bipolar Type 2 Disorder Can Get Worse if Left Untreated

Up to 30 percent of people who have been diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder eventually have at least one episode of full mania, which changes their diagnosis to bipolar 1 disorder.

This is much more likely to happen if a person doesn’t get treatment or fails to stick to the treatment successfully.

Even some of the relatively mild symptoms of bipolar type 2 disorder can cause havoc in a person’s everyday life, as well as damage relationships and finances.

Bipolar type 2 disorder is a serious mental illness, and it should be taken seriously.

Treatment Options for Bipolar Type 2 Disorder

Modern treatments usually involve a long-term program of medication and psychological training.

Most people who suffer from bipolar disorder can now get regular medical and psychological treatment in a clinic or their doctor’s surgery, and learn to effectively manage their condition as part of their normal daily lives.

Mood-Stabilizing Medication, such as Lithium May Be an Option

Finding a ‘cure’ is not just something you can do in an instant. It may take time to find the right kind of medication and which means experimentation supervised and directed by your doctor.

It turns out that Prozac (an anti-depressant) may cause mania in people who suffer from bipolar type 2 disorder. Therefore it is necessary to also take specialized anti-depressant medications to help alleviate bipolar depression periods.

Bipolar Type 2 Can Be Kept in Short Reigns with Self Help and Psychological Efforts

One of the keys to controlling bipolar type 2 disorder is to learn to keep emotions in balance and not get exposed to ‘triggers’.

Training can help people deal with the unique environmental and psychological triggers that can set off a bipolar episode, or make an existing episode worse.

In most cases the severity of manic and depressive episodes gets better with treatment over time.
But bipolar type 2 disorder is a long-term illness, and most people will need some for treatment for its symptoms throughout their life.

As a patient becomes more experienced at managing their condition, they may find they are able to reduce the levels of medication that they are taking.

What Would You Like to Read Now After This Article on Bipolar Type 2 Disorder?

What is Bipolar Disorder? A Medical, Scientific and Historical Bipolar Definition & Guide to Understanding Bipolar Disorders

The Essence Bipolar 1 Disorder: Learn to Spot Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and See Treatments of Bipolar Type 1

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