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Bipolar Disorder Type 2: Symptoms, Treatment, Risk, Prevention

Bipolar Disorder Type 2

Bipolar disorder type 2 is a so-called “brain illness” that is characterized by a combination of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes. Bipolar disorder type 2 is basically very similar to bipolar disorder type 1. The manic phase of bipolar disorder type 2 is also characterized by an episode of feeling "high" alternating with low moods.

Bipolar disorder type 2 does not cause full-blown manic or mixed episodes, but hypomania which is a milder form of mania. In bipolar disorder 2, the periods of depression are usually experienced for a longer time than those of hypomania. Women tend to be more affected by bipolar disorder type 2. The people suffering from this disorder may be more irritable and show an elevated mood but they can – in most cases – assume their usual daily work or routine in between their episodes of hypomania and their phases of depression.

Who is at risk for bipolar disorder type 2

No special group of people is particularly at risk for being affected by bipolar disorder type 2. Basically, the disorder can affect anyone of us at any time. Worldwide, 2.2% of the population is estimated to suffer from a bipolar disorder form.

People usually experience their first symptoms of bipolar disorder type 1 relatively early; generally as teenagers or when they are just out of their teens. As a matter of facts, bipolar disorder type II mostly occurs before a person reaches his or her fifties. Heredity also can play a role: people with a family history of bipolar disorder are consequently at higher risks to suffer from the disorder one day.

Symptoms for bipolar disorder type 2

A person who suffers from bipolar disorder type 2 experiences feeling "high" or an overly happy or outgoing mood, or displays an extremely irritable mood during the hypomanic phase. The typical behavioral changes in bipolar disorder type 2 that he or she can manifest during the hypomanic episodes also include:
  • Talking very loud and fast,
  • Jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Increasing goal-directed activities, such as taking on new projects
The positive aspect with most people suffering from the hypomanic episodes of bipolar disorder type 2 is that they are liked by the people around them for their pleasant behavior and for the interest they show in many activities and in the people they meet. The negative part is that their hypomanic illness can lead them to engage in weird behaviors. During the manic phase, people with bipolar disorder type 2 can behave impulsively and take part in a lot of pleasurable, high-risk behaviors, such as spending orgies, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments they would even never think of under normal circumstances, that is, outside of the manic phase.

The intensity of the depressive phase experienced by the people suffering from bipolar disorder type 2 is significant and the symptoms may reappear within short after hypomania lessens, or at a later time. The recurrence does not follow any given pattern. Whereas some patients have constantly alternating episodes of hypomania and depression, others may have rather long “normal mood” periods in between their episodes.

When an episode of hypomania is not treated professionally, it can last for up to a few months. Usually, people suffering from bipolar disorder type 2 experience the symptoms for a period of time that can vary between a few weeks and a few months.

The depressive phases experienced by a person suffering from bipolar disorder type 2 are comparable to those of a normal clinical depression and can last for several weeks or even months. During the depressive phase, patients suffering from bipolar disorder type 2 experience long period of feeling worried or empty, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, including sex, feel tired or "slowed down", develop feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness and think of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Available treatments for bipolar disorder type 2

Hiding behind the camouflage of an overly happy or outgoing mood combined with a persistent optimism, hypomania remains very often unnoticed, undiagnosed and untreated – at least until the person who suffers from bipolar disorder type 2 engages in the previously specified weird and unhealthy behaviors.

Whereas the manic episodes in the illness bipolar disorder type 1 always require medications, the people suffering from hypomania can take advantage of a number of so-called “preventive” drugs to stabilize their moods. These preventive measures thwart both the negative effects of hypomania and help to prevent the emergence of the depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder type 2.

Usually recommended “preventive” drugs for the treatment of bipolar disorder type 2 include:
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines
Since periodic episodes are among the typical characteristics of the illness bipolar disorder type 2, doctors usually recommend continuously taking appropriate medicines in order to prevent relapse.

Can bipolar disorder type II be prevented?

There is still no treatment available that is capable of preventing entirely the occurrence of bipolar disorder type 2. The best that can be done in the meantime is to seek for professional help at the very first sign of any mental health disorder, as some episodes of hypomania and of depression can be prevented effectively in people who have started developing bipolar disorder type 2.

Attending regularly dedicated therapy sessions with an experienced psychologist is usually beneficial and can help people suffering from bipolar disorder type 2 to better identify the possible causes for the destabilization of their mood. Such therapy sessions with a professional usually result in reducing significantly the number of necessary hospitalizations and in a much more enjoyable life form for the patient.

Another important point consists in continuing taking regularly the prescribed medicines – as agreed with your doctor. This may be the best measure you can take personally to prevent the emergence of future hypomanic or depressive episodes of bipolar disorder type 2.

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