Is Bipolar II a Serious Condition?

Reviewed on 2/1/2022
Is Bipolar II a Serious Condition?
Despite common misconceptions, bipolar II disorder is as equally serious and disabling as bipolar I disorder.

Bipolar II disorder is inappropriately considered a less serious condition than bipolar I disorder because people affected with bipolar II disorder often experience hypomanic episodes, wherein the intensity of mood elevation is lower than the severe manic episodes seen in bipolar I disorder.

Experts believe that bipolar II disorder is an equally serious and disabling condition because

  • Depressive episodes are longer and more severe in bipolar II disorder.
  • At times, people who experience bipolar II disorder may become suicidal (a cause of concern).
  • Though hypomanic episodes are less intense than full-fledged mania or psychosis, they significantly impair normal functioning and can lead to serious consequences.

What is bipolar II disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disease, is a type of mental illness characterized by episodes of fluctuating moods (high and low). Bipolar II disorder is a subtype of bipolar disorder in which the manic episodes are mild (also called hypomania).

Most people suffering from bipolar II disorder spend almost three times of their lifespan in depressive episodes than manic episodes.

To be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, a person must have at least one hypomanic episode in their entire life. They most often suffer from depression and are generally normal in between periods of depression and mania.

4 types of bipolar disorder

  1. Bipolar I disorder: A person must have one or more manic episodes preceded by depression. Manic episodes may cause risky behaviors, require treatment, and even hospitalization.
  2. Bipolar II disorder: Depressive episodes with hypomanic episodes but never a full-blown manic episode.
  3. Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia: People may experience hypomania and mild depressive moods for at least two years.
  4. Others: The criteria for these three types are not met, but a person still shows symptoms of bipolar disorder.

What causes bipolar II disorder?

The exact cause of this disease is unknown, but a combination of certain factors is associated with the disease.


What Is Bipolar Disorder? Symptoms, Manic Episodes, Testing See Slideshow

What are the symptoms of bipolar II disorder?

People with bipolar II disorder often suffer from depression called manic depression, while between an episode of hypomania and depression, they live a normal life.

  • Hypomanic episode: Can last for a few days to months.
    • Manifested as either euphoria (top of the world feeling) or extreme irritability
    • Unable to make decisions
    • Overconfident
    • Talking loudly or rapidly
    • Hyperactive, cannot sleep
    • Positive mood (optimism)
    • Excessive happiness
    • Multitasking
    • Superiority complex
    • Increased sex drive
    • Impulsive
  • Depressive episode: Can last for weeks or months and rarely for years.
    • Depressed mood
    • Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
    • Low energy
    • Guilty feeling
    • Worthlessness and hopelessness
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Cannot concentrate
    • Insomnia (lack of sleep) or sleeping too much
    • Crying for no obvious reason
    • increased or reduced appetite
    • Decreased sex drive

How is bipolar II disorder diagnosed?

A careful history taking that includes the duration, frequency, and severity of symptoms. These pieces of information are gathered from the patient or their family and close friends and play a key role to confirm the diagnosis.

Before making an appropriate diagnosis, a complete medical evaluation is done by a psychiatrist (mental health specialist) that may include questions regarding personal and family history and depression-screening questionnaires.

Imaging tests, such as electroencephalogram, computed tomography scan, or magnetic resonance imaging, of the brain may be recommended to rule out other medical conditions.

Is bipolar II disorder curable?

There is no cure for bipolar II disorder, but behavior therapy and drugs (such as mood stabilizers) can control the illness, helping most people to live normal and productive lives.

In addition to medications, certain lifestyle changes could help prevent a relapse.


Another term that has been previously used for bipolar disorder is ___________________. See Answer

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Image Source: iStock Images

Hoffman M. Bipolar 2 Disorder. WebMD.

Cleveland Clinic. Bipolar Disorder.

National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar Disorder.

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