Bipolar II Disorder Essay

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Psychology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #79340844

Excerpt from Essay :

Bipolar II

In the United States alone, a staggering number of people suffer from some sort of mental illness and many more are at high risk of developing a mental condition. Worldwide, the number is even greater, especially in countries without the resources to provide the care needed by such people. Some mental conditions are more prevalent and easier to develop than others. Whereas a serious disease that manifests various forms of psychosis like schizophrenia is mostly prevalent in those who inherit it from family members, those who have abused drugs long-term and consistently, or those with brain injuries, milder conditions like bipolar disorder can be developed by virtually anyone. In the United States, about 2.5% of the population has some form of bipolar disorder (WedMD, 2014). This translate to about 6 million people.

Because of this high number of sufferers, increasing research attention in the psychiatric and medical fields has been given to the study of the disease itself, along with ways to effect treatment. One focus of such study has been the distinction between Bipolar I and Bipolar II. According to the Black Dog Institute (2014), this distinction is important in terms of treatment. Whereas bipolar I disorder, mood stabilizers form the standard of treatment, bipolar II presents a less clear cut way in terms of treatment. Indeed, there has been considerable debate not only about such treatment, but also about the way in which the distinction between the two types should be made, or indeed if there should be a distinction at all. An increasing number of trials have focused on new antidepressant drugs and the beneficial role they might play in the treatment of Bipolar II disorder.

When it comes to the distinction between the two, the greatest and clearest difference between Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder is the frequency and intensity of the manic episodes (Black Dog Institute, 2014). Although most diagnostic processes have focused on how the disorder manifests in terms of frequency and intensity, recent studies have also indicated a genetic element within the distinction between bipolar I and bipolar II (Black Dog Institute, 2014). In bipolar II patients, for example, a sharing of alleles along the chromosome 18Q21 has been found among siblings with bipolar II that suggests more consistency than would be accounted for by randomness.

There are also similarities between the two conditions. Both bipolar I and bipolar II patients, for example, is demographic, where the first onset occurs in similar demographic groups. For both bipolar I and II, sufferers have a history of substance abuse that is greater over the lifetime than the general population.

The categorization of bipolar I and II is dependent upon the differences between the two conditions. Bipolar II tends to have a higher lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders, where these usually manifest in social and similar phobias. Bipolar II is also more chronic than its counterpart, with bipolar I, on the other hand, having more severe episodes, especially at the intake stage. The Blackdog Institute (2014) also notes that bipolar II may easily develop into bipolar I.

Bipolar II is also known as "swinging bipolar." It includes at least one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode over at least four days. The difference between the "hypomanic" stage of this disorder type and the "hypermanic" stage of bipolar I is that the former does not require hospitalization. It is a less severe manic stage than the one manifest in bipolar I patients. Although hypermania is observable in terms of mood disturbance, the implication is that it is far milder than the same stage for bipolar I patients (PsychCentral, 2014).

When considered in realistic terms, the hypomanic stage manifests itself in both accomplishment and disaster. Individuals in the hypomanic stage, for example, may accomplish great feats and successes like salesperson of the month or best-selling authorship. They may be considered the "life of the party." According to PsychCentral (2014), however, there is also a dark side to this stage. Bad decision-making could result in social embarrassment, failed relationships, or even a lack of responsibility in the workplace. Whereas hypomania in bipolar II patients tends to be the highest level of mania, others may suffer from this condition as a prelude to the hypermanic stage.

The difficulty surrounding this condition, especially on the emotional level, is that the manic stage feels good. This, along with the factors of potential success and popularity, has resulted in the unwillingness of patients to seek treatment.

In short, the major difference between bipolar I and bipolar II disorder is the fact that the former tends to be far more severe in the manic stages than the latter. The former also consistently responds to treatment with mood intervening drugs, while the latter does not necessarily respond to any one type of treatment. Furthermore, while anyone can develop either condition, the likelihood is higher in those with a family history of the condition and those who have consistently suffered from substance abuse during their lifetime. Most sufferers develop the condition before their 50th birthday.

The study of bipolar II disorder is vital in terms of ensuring long-term mental health for people today. In order to function effectively, mental health is one of the basic human needs today. Although the manic stage may result in some success and in a feeling of unmitigated energy and drive, it can also create social embarrassment and workplace problems for the sufferer. Hence, those who study the disorder will need to focus on specific areas of challenge and how these can be addressed.


One interesting factor about the hypomanic episode in bipolar II sufferers is the fact that this stage of the condition does not necessarily mean that the individual "feels good" or "high." It can also manifest as irritability. Some symptoms of this stage include rapid flights between ideas, rapid and loud speech, increased energy and decreased sleep. In terms of their social situation, hypomanic people can be pleasant companions wh make jokes, show interest in others, and display a highly positive mood. On the other hand, mania may result in unhealthy behavior, such as overspending, unsafe sex, and other impulsive and risky behaviors without any regard for the potential danger of consequences (WebMD, 2014). A manic episode generally could last from a few days to a few months.

There are many specific symptoms of the hypomania stage. What separates this stage from ordinary happiness is a variety of factors, including high energy levels, positive mood, creativity, mystical experiences, and on the more negative side, inappropriate behavior and irritability. Whereas ordinary happiness seldom results in a person engaging in dangerous behavior, the high experienced during a hypomanic episode may result in extreme behavior and extreme experiences (Black Dog Institute, 2014). In addition, this stage of the condition could also include euphoria, an inflated self-esteem, aggressive behavior, agitation, an increased sex drive, easy distraction, substance abuse, and frequent absences from workplace or school responsibilities. Even psychosis may be one of the dangers associated with this stage.

In bipolar II disorder, however, the depressive symptoms are more prevalent than the hypomanic ones. The frequency and sequence of these moods vary widely among individuals. For some, a depressive episode would immediately follow a manic episode. Some experience the manic and depressive stages as a chronic cycle, while others have long periods inbetween the extremes, where they function normally. Depressive episodes occur similarly to clinical depression for the bipolar II sufferer, where there are symptoms like depressed mood, loss of pleasure, low energy and low activity, thoughts of worthlessness and suicide. Other symptoms of this stage include anxiety, sleep problems, appetite disturbances, fatigue, loss of interest, lack of concentration, chronic pain, frequent absences from work or school responsibilities, and poor performance.

It is interesting to compare these lists, especially in the light of the fact that the two stages of the disorder result in many of the same symptoms, including irritability and a basic lack of responsibility in terms of work or school duties. The depressive symptoms could last for weeks, months, or even years in rare cases. The treatment of this stage is highly important in terms of the danger of suicide.

These are all factors that need to be taken into account when it comes to the treatment of bipolar II disorder. With treatment, both the depressive and manic episodes are controlled and may cease earlier than when left untreated.


When it comes to the treatment of bipolar II disorder, various options are available. It is important to recognize that, due to the varied nature of the disorder, there cannot be a singular standardized treatment in all cases.

Hypomania, for example, could masquerade as a sense of relentless optimism. There are many optimists in the world who do not suffer from any mental disorder other than perhaps a lack of grasp of reality. Hence, to effectively treat bipolar II disorder, an accurate diagnosis must be made. While hypermania is therefore somewhat easy to identify and…

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