Before you read this fact sheet you may want to read our fact sheet on Bipolar Disorder first.
Bipolar II disorder is a form of bipolar disorder where mood swings from mild mania (hypomania) to severe depression. It is characterized by one or more depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode.
Hypomania can make bipolar II disorder difficult to diagnose. In a recent U.S. survey, nearly seven out of ten people with bipolar disorder identified that they have been misdiagnosed at least once and 60% of those people had been diagnosed with depression.
For some people, hypomania does not cause noticeable problems socially or at work, but for others it can be troublesome. Left undiagnosed, bipolar II disorder can escalate to more severe episodes of mania or decline to severe states of depression.
“I felt great when I was manic. Everything seemed clearer and I got so much more done in a day. It was hard to stay on my medication because it took that edge off my performance but when I went off it I would fall into a depression that dragged me down into an abyss. It’s been really hard to find a balance between the two.” – Susan, 36
You may be experiencing hypomania if you have had periods of several days where your mood is especially energetic or irritable and/or you:
Because the hypomania of bipolar II disorder can be so mild, it is often overlooked and mistaken in the workplace as ambition, overachievement and/or productivity. The depression of bipolar II disorder is easier to identify and this is often what is reported or noticed first. For this reason, many people with bipolar II disorder are misdiagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants.
It is important to know that certain antidepressants can trigger manic/rapid cycling episodes in people who have bipolar II disorder. This can lead to destructive behaviour and an increased risk for suicide. If you are seeking treatment, it is very important to discuss any symptoms of mania or any family history of bipolar disorder with your health care practitioner.
For a list of places where you can get treatment and/or find a doctor, click here.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, you can learn more about your choices and figure out which treatments might be best for you. To learn more click here.