Understand the Need to Recognise Bipolar Type 2

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Many people are not aware that there are different types of bipolar disorders.  Most people associate the disease with bipolar type 1.  There is also bipolar type 2.  It is bipolar type 2 that is often misdiagnosed and overlooked because the symptoms are a little different than bipolar type 1.

Difference Between Type 2 and Other Types

Bipolar type 2 is a disorder characterized by one or more major depressive episodes which also include at least one hypomanic episode.  It is common for someone with bipolar type 2 to not recognize their own symptoms and it is usually the people around them that recognize something is wrong.

Bipolar type 1 involves reoccurring episodes of manic and depressive behavior.  Both the manic and depressive episodes are extreme.  It is when the manic episodes are mild that the condition is considered bipolar type 2 and it is the mild episodes that make many people unable to recognize that it is bipolar disorder.

Bipolar type 2 is actually 5 to 10 times more common than bipolar type 1, but it is often overlooked as bipolar. It is most often misdiagnosed as unipolar depression or even schizophrenia.

Criteria for Diagnosis

To diagnose a patient with bipolar type 2 a doctor will look for certain criteria.  This criteria is as follows:

– One or more major depressive episodes
– At least one hypomanic episode
– No manic episodes or mixed episodes
– Other disorders have been ruled out


Treatment for bipolar commonly include medication and therapy.  Some patients respond well to electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, which is a form of electric shock therapy.

The mania and depressive episodes are often treated differently and according to the phase in which they are in.  There are two phases.  The acute phase is where the social and occupational impairment from the disorder are improved.  The maintenance phase is where the long term medication is used to prevent future episodes.

The commonly used medication is lithium which helps to relieve manic episodes.  It helps to sedate a person and prevent accelerated thought and hyperactivity.  It has also been shown to help prevent depressive episodes.  Lithium is often used in conjunction with antidepressants to help with the depressive episodes.

A doctor will usually work with the patient in finding the proper course of treatment.  Usually a person can find a good combination of treatments to help with their bipolar.

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