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What Is Bipolar 2 Disorder?

What Is Bipolar 2 Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness that causes people to experience extreme shifts in mood – alternating between mania (or hypomania) and depression. It is a complex and often debilitating disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 40 adults in the United States and approximately 1 percent of teenagers.

Many people are aware of bipolar disorder, but few are familiar with its two main subtypes, namely bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.

Understanding Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar 2 disorder, also known as “bipolar type 2” or “bipolar II disorder,” is a less severe but still serious form of bipolar disorder characterized by episodes of depression and hypomania (a less severe form of mania).

Depressive episodes may include symptoms such as persistent sadness, feeling hopeless and helpless, loss of interest in social activities you once enjoyed, lack of energy and motivation, poor sleep patterns, social isolation, changes in appetite, and thoughts of self-harm.

Hypomanic episodes, on the other hand, are characterized by symptoms such as increased energy, irritability, and impulsive behavior. During a hypomanic episode, individuals with bipolar 2 disorder may feel overly confident, have racing thoughts, and engage in risky or reckless behavior. They may also experience symptoms such as a reduced need for sleep, grandiose thinking, and changes in appetite.

Bipolar II Disorder vs. Bipolar I Disorder -The Difference

The main difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 disorders is the severity of manic episodes. For bipolar 1 disorder, individuals experience full-blown manic episodes that last at least seven days or are so severe to warrant hospitalization.

On the other hand, people with bipolar II disorder experience hypomanic episodes, which are generally milder and shorter than manic episodes. Unlike the manic episodes seen in bipolar I disorder, hypomanic episodes do not cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning or require hospitalization. In some cases, episodes of hypomania may be mistaken for an unusually good mood.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not well understood. However, research suggests that it is likely a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors that contribute to the development of the condition.

Genetics: Studies have shown that bipolar disorder tends to run in families. This suggests that there may be a genetic component to the condition.

Brain Chemistry: Imbalances in certain chemicals in the brain, such as neurotransmitters, have been linked to the development of bipolar disorder.

Environmental Factors: Extreme stress or traumatic experiences, such as physical/emotional abuse or the loss of a loved one, can also trigger the onset of bipolar disorder in already vulnerable individuals.

Treating Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder is a disruptive and potentially life-threatening condition if left untreated. Luckily, there are a variety of proven treatment options available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Medications, psychotherapy, and self-care are the most common treatments for bipolar disorder.


Antidepressants and mood-stabilizing medications are often used to treat bipolar II disorder. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used to treat depressive episodes, while mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are used to prevent or manage hypomanic episodes.


Various forms of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), are instrumental in helping individuals with bipolar II disorder effectively manage their symptoms. The goal of psychotherapy is to help you develop effective coping mechanisms and strategies to overcome triggers and manage your symptoms in a healthy way.


Self-care is also pivotal in managing bipolar disorder. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy and nutritious meals, avoiding drugs and alcohol, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation are all important in managing mood swings.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy

If you have treatment-resistant bipolar disorder, ketamine infusion therapy may be an option to consider. Ketamine is a groundbreaking medication that was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of refractory depression and has also proven to be an effective alternative treatment for managing symptoms of mania and depression associated with bipolar disorder.

The Takeaway

Although not as severe as bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder is still a serious and potentially life-threatening condition if left untreated. Fortunately, with the help of medication, psychotherapy, and self-care strategies, individuals with bipolar II disorder can develop effective coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms and live full lives.

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