Defining Bipolar II Disorder

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The diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines various forms of manic depression including bipolar II disorder. This condition is also known as “soft bipolar” because the symptoms are not quite as severe as those experienced by individuals who have classic bipolar I disorder.

Major Depression

Major depression is a fundamental element in both bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 disorder. In order for an individual to be diagnosed with either of these mood disorders, it is necessary that they have at least one episode of major depression. Many people with these conditions experience more than one bout of depression.


Hypomania is much like a manic episode. However, hypomania is much less extreme. Individuals who have this mild form of mania experience elevated mood and productivity. They are apt to sleep less whilst still feeling rested and they are very motivated to achieve their goals.

Distinction between Bipolar II and Bipolar I

The fundamental distinction between bipolar I and II is the absence of manic episodes in the occurrence of bipolar II disorder. Manic episodes are far more erratic and the individual experiences racing thoughts and an inability to concentrate during manic phases. Mania also interferes with the individual’s ability to function normally during everyday interactions.


Individuals who are diagnosed with bipolar type 2 are not likely to develop psychosis in their conditions. Psychotic episodes may develop in type 1 bipolar disorder as the individual experiences extreme states of mania on a regular basis. The polarities are extreme and the patient may develop signs of psychosis.

Psychosis often involves frightening occurrences including delusional thinking and hallucinations. Bipolar II types do not exhibit psychosis in their experiences.


Diagnosing Bipolar II disorder is challenging because hypomania is quite mild compared to its manic counterpart. The condition is often confused with depressive disorder since the individual usually seeks treatment during times of deep depression rather than during stable moods or hypomania.

Following are the symptoms of bipolar II disorder:

? Major depression
? Hypomania
? Absence of mania
? Absence of mixed episodes

These symptoms differ from depressive disorder in that hypomania is present. Symptoms of hypomania include:

? Reduced sleep
? Racing thought processes
? Motivation
? Excessive energy
? Lofty goals

Many of the symptoms of hypomania are the same as mania. However, the signs of hypomania are much less extreme. This is the fundamental difference between bipolar I and bipolar II disorder.

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  1. andrew rymbai
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    hello there, i am a patient of bipolar mood disorder. i do visit my psychiatrist and am on medication. i have gone through the depression stage and the hyper stage. how do i help myself from more of these two attacks.

  2. em mcgowan
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    i have bipolar. the best treatment i have experienced is CBT its cognative behaviour therapy. it helps identify symptons and teaches you how to deal with them xx em

  3. Anonymous
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone could offer me some advice before I go back to the hospital. I was diagnosed as depressed a year ago and since then have been on many different anti depressant tablets. I have been trying to research my illness and the only one which matches my symptoms in bipolar 2. I am not sure what to do about it. I have very happy days and extremely low days. The happy days can last a few days but as yet they have not lasted more than a week before I fall back to being depressed. For example, New Years Eve. I was enjoying spending time with my family and having lots of fun. People even mentioned that they had not seen me that happy for a long time. Then 12 o’clock came and I could not stop crying. It was uncontrollable and I had to leave the party at 1:30 but continued to cry until about 3 am when I finally fell asleep. I have then spent my time since then avoiding people as I am embarrassed about me crying in front of everyone. I am now back at work after the new year and as I am on my own in the office I find that my mind is racing. I am not good sitting in silence anyway and I know this but do not have any way of getting noise into the office. I have tried talking to myself to get some sort of noise but I feel silly and feel like I am going mad so I stop. I also have very vivid dreams which feel so real that I have to ask the people involved if they happened or not which also makes me sound mad.

    I can get myself into situations which could be dangerous as well. I dragged a man out of his car to show him how to go round an round about without nearly hitting me. I know now it is bad to do this as I could have been arrested or beaten up but at the time it is normal.

    I have also noticed that when I am having a good day I spend a lot more money. The January sales saw me spend over £300 which I did not have. I have had to borrow money from my mum to pay my bills now.

    I am very scared that this will escalate and cause me problems with my family and work. With work as I just wander off and go home for no reason or go shopping even though there are things which need doing.

    Please could someone just tell me I do not have Bipolar 2. I know I do not have type 1 which is a relief but type 2 still scares me.

    Thanks for letting me rant on. Sorry if it is a little long.

  4. admin
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi there

    You need to speak with a specialist bipolar doctor !! I would be wary and careful about some of the medication they put you on thou… you can keep these symptoms under check with a good diet and lifestyle ( see homepage) I also recommend Dr Millers book “mood mapping” good luck

  5. admin
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    You need coping strategies and a good healthy lifestyle, see dr millers book mood mapping

  6. susan jackson
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    i am just wrting for some advice my partner seams to think he has bioplar manic depression he has very bad mood swings has freatend to throw himself under a train crying not eating propley and always moody can you tell me if he has this condition how it can affect a relationship with the other person and what i should do to help him through hi all my name is susan or should i wait till he goes and see phscatrest before i get worryed about it

  7. Teresa
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    My son is 34,married for 10 yrs., marriage problems with money,his wife is a stay @ home mom shops alot, he also spends money they do not have. They owe me money, he did have a short affair, they flight all the time, very stressful, no order in the house. He has had 2 major break downs, they were doing consulting, she wife says he has biploar II,the only time I hear about this is when she finds out he did something. I am not sure he has this disorder, or she is using it, she always wants him to be hospitalized, she says he’s crazy, she wants him to get disability insurance, everything is fine as long as she’s getting new things, vacations, going places. I actually think she is part of the problem, @ times she has blame myself for giving birth to him, she lies and says I say things I do not or says well thats what you meant. I try not to be alone with her, I only talk to her about the children. I think possibly he just is not happy and happene’s to get caught. She comes from a slpit family,her dad has bipolarI and drinks. She is always trying to fix everyone, she gets a high from drama. She always has to be right, not happy. I am just wondering how to handle this, can I help?

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