There are various types of Bipolar Disorder, each distinguished by the pattern and severity of symptoms. The most common type is believed to be Bipolar II Disorder. Bipolar II Disorder may be considered a milder form of Bipolar Disorder. The most severe type being Bipolar I Disorder, which includes intense manic and depressive symptoms. Bipolar II Disorder sufferers typically experience lower-grade "hypomanic" episodes of euphoric or irritable mood. Symptoms of hypomania include excessive energy, decreased need for sleep, impulsiveness, racing thoughts, irritability, impatience, inflated self-esteem, loud, rapid talking, along with "life of the party" behavior. Hypomania symptoms may be overlooked as personality traits because sufferers may simply appear outgoing and optimistic, while others seem highly creative or productive. Some may even find the hypomanic phase pleasurable. Experts say these aspects often make diagnosing hypomania difficult. But hypomania isn't always be a pleasant state. Studies show the symptoms can be extremely negative for some, resulting in severe agitation and difficulty concentrating. It's not uncommon for people with Bipolar II Disorder to not recognize hypomania as a symptom and only seek professional help for depression. Hypomania may also lead to reckless and impulsive behavior, resulting in absences from work or school, spending money unwisely or sexual indiscretions, all of which may have harmful consequences. Without treatment, an episode of hypomania may continue for days, a few weeks or even a few months-and may escalate into full mania. Those with Bipolar II Disorder also typically experience episodes of depression, with symptoms like persistent sadness, hopelessness, pessimism, loss of interest in activities, decreased energy or fatigue, as well as thoughts of death or suicide. Studies suggest episodes of depression with Bipolar II Disorder may occur more frequently and with greater intensity in comparison to episodes of hypomania. Experts also believe that the severity of the depressive episodes may greatly increase sufferers' risk of suicide. An episode of depression may closely follow a hypomanic episode, or occur much later. Some may cycle between hypomania and depression, or may experience lengthy periods of normal mood in between episodes. In general, symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder occur MORE frequently in women then men. Women tend to experience depression as the dominant symptom, while men tend to experience equal occurrences of hypomania and depression. Bipolar II Disorder generally appears in late teens or early adulthood and typically develops BEFORE age 50. It may occur in young children as well, and having an immediate family member with Bipolar Disorder increases the risk. Research suggests that Bipolar II Disorder sufferers may have an imbalance in important brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, each of which plays a role in mood and emotions. Bipolar II Disorder is also associated with substance abuse, as well as anxiety and personality disorders. According to the American Psychiatric Association, diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder involves at minimum one hypomanic episode lasting at least four days, and one or more episodes of depression. Most people with Bipolar II Disorder CAN be effectively treated and lead normal lives with a combination of mood-stabilizing and antidepressant medications, and psychotherapy. If you think you may be suffering from Bipolar II Disorder, see a mental health professional.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012