According to the definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), bipolar II disorder is "characterized by one or more Major Depressive Episodes accompanied by at least one Hypomanic Episode." The key difference between bipolar I and bipolar II is that bipolar II has hypomanic but not manic episodes. Also, while those with bipolar I disorder may experience additional psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, bipolar II by definition cannot have psychotic features.
The signs which would lead to a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder are:
One or more major depressive episodes
At least one hypomanic episode
There has never been a manic or mixed episode
Another disorder is not responsible for symptoms
Symptoms cause distress or impair functioning
Symptoms and characteristics of depression include:
Weight loss or gain
Symptoms and characteristics of hypomania include:
Decreased need for sleep
Tendency to engage in behavior that could have serious consequences, such as spending recklessly or inappropriate sexual encounters
It should be noted that the symptoms of hypomania are the same as for mania, but they are less severe. Therefore, the official diagnostic criteria separating a diagnosis of bipolar II from that of bipolar I disorder is that hypomania does not cause marked impairment of functioning or require hospitalization.
The aforementioned is the official version of what bipolar disorder(I or II) encompasses. It is rather complex, but simply put, if you find yourself with periods of depression mixed with periods of happiness, excess energy, etc. and these moods seem to cycle one after the other there is a good probability that you have bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder is simply a more serious condition than Bipolar II.
I hope this has helped a little.
i was diagnosed with bipolar II during the fall of 2006, after years of therapy and being on antidepressants which didn't feel like they were doing as much as they should. that summer i had a "hypomanic episode." it lasted for a couple of weeks - i had alot of energy, i would hang out with friends all night and go to the gym at 5 in the morning because i couldn't sleep, and i did some running (definitely not normal for me.) also, i slept with a couple of different guys within a relatively short period of time (not normal for me either.)
i accompanied a friend to a doctor's appointment and looked at a bipolar pamphlet in the waiting room. because of the way so many people throw around the word "bipolar" i never would have guessed that anything less than full-blown mania would qualify someone for the disorder.
after looking at a list of symptoms for hypomania i brought it up to my psychologist and my psychiatrist. they both agreed that what i had experienced was most likely a hypomanic episode. i was put on a mood stabilizer (lamictal) in addition to my antidepressant (lexapro) and in general i have been stable ever since! my doctor told me that a lot of people with bipolar II are only diagnosed with depression, and that's why their therapy and medication does not work correctly.
it's important to watch for changes in your mood, self-esteem, sleeping habits, sex drive, and ability to focus. you might want to tell your friends or family to let you know if you start to act different - hypomanic or manic symptoms often feel good because they are a huge improvement from being depressed(!) and you might not recognize a problem.
i hope this has helped you somehow and that you get diagnosed correctly! if you have any questions, i'd be happy to answer. i still have that bipolar pamphlet and it gives a website: www.1on1health.com (haven't visited the site, but maybe it's helpful.)
I am in the process of being diagnosed, probably with Bipolar II, or the cyclothymic one. I have been reading up on information too, and i found a particularly good site with very helpful and easy to understand information. Just google black dog institute and go their Bipolar section. The online learning section within that was the most helpful: it has little powerpoint slides with a professional who reads them and gives extra details. They also have a self test which you can do.
It also mentions some of the very latest research- which indicates that bipolar 2 is more common than bipolar 1, and it is more common in women than men. It also says that mixed states can happen in hypomania, contrary to what jikan said.
Give the site a go, I think you will find it very helpful.
Thank you so much for all support and fantastic pice of advice .I understood a little bit more now thanks to you guys , but defenetely i will use the website you gave me and read a little more .I appreciate it alot.
I hope you are all feeling good .
you can always drop me a line ,
This information is helpful for me too. Drs don't tell you all those things, it's kinda learn as you go and I was diagnosed about 10 years ago. All I ever knew was what was going on with me and didn't know what was a symptom of what. I never knew half the problems I experienced was even connected to anything. Had I known, I would have been in better shape quicker. I was admitted to the hospital, not long after being diagnosed, because I stopped taking all my meds. (Never do that again) I thought I was a mental patient, not from an actual illness, but had lost my mind, destined to be locked up. It can be a very scarey thing. Of course they got me back on my meds and got me back functional. I still lived in Hell for a long time. The dr changed my stabilizer about 6 months or so ago and it made a world of difference. I went from depakote to Lamectal. Once I started being more educated, through this site, I see myself in the same situations, and know it is an actual medical condition. Now I feel more at ease to tell my dr exactly how I feel so he can change or add or whatever to help me. Thanks And thank you Kate for your question.
Education is key!
I had no clue I was Cyclothemic until I sat down with a mental health team which including two pdocs and an hour interview. I never thought I could be BP because I never had the "classic" symptoms. I had no clue about mixed states or rapid cycling, wow.. I had a lot to learn. It is still hard for me to get over the stigma, (I was diagnosed in July after a 4 day hospitalization) I never did any of the major behaviours, like super highs - though in my 20's I was an energizer bunny and now I am the opposite to then. I just thought I was suicidal and none of the medications were working. I found out that SSRI/SNRI's can actually trigger hypomania. whoa. Now knowing my diagnosis, I just want to get stable, and it's damned hard. I still can't work, thank god for short term disability at work, or I would be in a rough spot. I can have 5-6 mood swings in a day - and sometimes drop so low I have suicidal thoughts. My pdoc is slowly upping my doses of Serequal and Lamactil, and as of today I am starting to come out of the *fog*.
I have done a lot of research over the internet, and my pdoc is very informative and supportive. I don't think I would be alive if I hadn't gone into the hospital. I am now accepting my BP diagnosis.. it was hard at first... but I just want to be well. I hope this helps. Good luck Jane