What Is Bipolar II Disorder?
While mania is the main characteristic of bipolar I disorder, bipolar II has milder periods of elation known as hypomania. It also has episodes of mild or major depression. According to the DSM-IV, a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association, the difference between mania and hypomania is "the degree of severity."
What Are Signs of Hypomania With Bipolar II Disorder?
Signs of hypomania with bipolar II disorder include:
- Decreased need for sleep
- Extreme focus on projects at work or at home
- Exuberant and elated mood
- Increased confidence
- Increased creativity and productivity
- Increased energy and libido
- Reckless behaviors
- Risk-taking behaviors
How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
As with most mood disorders, there is no laboratory test or X-ray to diagnose bipolar disorder. After performing a physical exam, your doctor will evaluate your signs and symptoms. Your doctor will also ask you about your personal medical history and family history. Lab tests may be done to rule out other serious illnesses that can affect mood.
In addition, your doctor may want to talk with family members to see if they can identify times when you were elated. Because elation may feel good, it's often hard for a person with bipolar disorder to know if the mood was too high. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, unwise business or financial decisions may be made when an individual is in a manic phase. So early diagnosis and effective treatment is very important with bipolar disorder.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
Treatment for bipolar disorder may include the use of mood stabilizers such as lithium. Anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines may also be used to stabilize mood. Sometimes antidepressants are given in combination with mood stabilizers to boost the depressed mood. In addition, stimulants may be used to step up or boost the antidepressant drug action.