The Basics of Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder is a type of mental condition that affects the moods, causing them to alternate from high to low over a period of time. The high moods are referred to as hypomania or hypomanic episodes and are quite mild. The depression periods however are more severe and last longer. Bipolar II differs from Bipolar I disorder in that victims of bipolar I experience an extreme high mood accompanied by impulsive behavior. This state is referred to as a ‘true’ mania and can seriously affect one’s life. Bipolar II victims experience at least one hypomania episode in their life. This condition can affect anyone. In most people it starts during the teenage years or the early 20s. In families where one member suffers from the condition, the rest have a higher risk of suffering from the same.

Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II Disorder Symptoms

The high moods experienced during hypomania can be displayed either as irritability or as euphoria. The victim manifests hyperactivity and increased energy, and has little desire for sleep. The speech is fast and loud with no consistency on any given topic. Hypomania initially comes across as a positive thing as the victim appears lively, talkative and in extremely good moods. He/she takes interest in people and activities that would not be of interest normally.
On the down side, such hypomanic episodes can lead to risky and impulsive behavior all in the name of having fun. Some people have been known to overspend, drink excessive alcohol, indulge in careless sex and so on. In most cases people simply regard these characters as outgoing without realizing that they are dealing with a medical condition. The consequences of such actions have to be dealt with long after the hypomania has passed.

This probably explains why periods of depression follow soon after. The depression can be quite severe and lasts significantly. Patients have to deal with alternating periods of depression and hypomania, either back to back or with episodes of normal moods in between them. The depression is characterized by low moods and energy levels, loss of appetite, feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts and the other symptoms that accompany the normal clinical depression. Either of the episodes in bipolar II disorder can last for days, weeks or even months if left untreated. People may assume that they are just normal mood swings, and with time they only deteriorate.

Bipolar II Disorder Treatment

There are various forms of medication available for bipolar disorder. The drugs are meant to even out moods and prevent the episodes of hypomania as well as depression. Mood stabilizing pills like lithium control the elevated moods, while anti-depressants can be used to ease the depression phase. The particular drug to be administered is normally chosen by the doctor after considering the symptoms, their duration and any prescriptions that have worked in the past for either the victim or a family member. Both mood stabilizers and antidepressants mostly contain some compounds that can lead to serious side effects. Experts suggest that they should only be used as a last resort and even then a doctor’s close supervision is required to avoid dependence or causing harm to other organs.

However, the lasting solution in dealing with bipolar II disorder symptoms is behavioral therapy. Here the patients work together with a psychotherapist to identify the traits that may be worsening the condition. They are advised on how to modify the behavior to match that which will enhance healing. For instance, following a regular schedule on a daily basis is of essence in bipolar II disorder treatment. Behavioral therapists suggest that people are less vulnerable to mood swings if they have a regular time to sleep, get up and carry out other activities of the day.

Patients are further advised to avoid alcohol at all cost. An attempt to suppress the symptoms using alcohol is likely to lead to an addiction. Regular exercise relaxes the mind and lowers the chances of experiencing extreme mood swings. It is important to note that the success of behavioral therapy significantly relies on the ability of the patients to first accept that they have a problem. Only then can they make the necessary behavioral changes and get on a path to total recovery.

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