Bipolar II disorder (BP-II) is a mental illness that is similar to bipolar I disorder, but with moods that range from high to low over time. It is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. People with BP-II experience periods of depression and periods of high mood, called hypomania. The most prominent signs of bipolar disorder in children and teens may include severe mood swings that are different from their usual mood swings.
Depressive symptoms in a person with BP-II are similar to those of a person with clinical depression. However, some doctors report that patients who arrived with a depressive episode, but were later diagnosed with BP-II, often developed hypersomnia, increased appetite, psychomotor retardation, and a history of antidepressant-induced hypomania. Hypomanic symptoms include a persistently elevated or irritable mood. Severe bipolar episodes of mania or depression can include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. Treatment for BP-II includes counseling and medications, such as mood stabilizers.
People with BP-II can benefit from preventive medications that level out long-term moods. Hypomanic episodes can sometimes progress to full manias that affect a person's ability to function (bipolar I disorder). If you think you might have BP-II or have already been diagnosed, know that there is a treatment available that can help you manage the condition and live a happy, stable life. Children and teens may have episodes other than major depression or manic or hypomanic episodes, but the pattern may vary from that of adults with bipolar disorder. When BP-II is misdiagnosed as depression, for example, antidepressants may be prescribed alone.
This means that they can help a mental health professional identify the symptoms of bipolar disorder in a person, but they cannot be used as the sole method of diagnosing the disorder. The bipolar patient is overwhelmed by emotional stimulation with no way of understanding it, which can trigger mania and exacerbate the effects of depression. Depressive episodes in BP-II may occur in a manner similar to those experienced in unipolar depressive disorders. Although a person with bipolar disorder may find an elevated mood of mania attractive, especially if it occurs after depression, the “high” does not stop at a comfortable or controllable level. If you think you might have bipolar disorder or have already been diagnosed, know that there is treatment available that can help you manage the condition and live a happy, stable life. With proper diagnosis and treatment, people with BP-II can lead healthy and productive lives.