August – Education on BPDII

August – Education on BPDII

August Mental Health Discussion

Education on Bipolar Disorder Type II

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Welcome to our August Mental Health Discussion. This month, I thought it would be a good idea to write an essay, if you will, on bipolar type II disorder. A lot of people have a misunderstanding of this mental illness and I thought it would be good to shed some light on it, being that I suffer from it myself. So, sit back and get ready to be educated my friends.

Bipolar Disorder is defined as: a mental disorder marked by alternating periods of elation and depression.

Previously known as manic depression, people who have bipolar disorder go between periods of mania, and periods of depression. People with Bipolar II like myself, have much longer periods of depression than mania, and their mania is called hypomania. Essentially this is a lesser form of the mania that Bipolar I patients experience. We do not experience certain symptoms/experiences such as the God-like state of mind, hallucinations, etc. Our periods of mania last a significantly lesser amount of time with Bipolar II.

Symptoms of mania include, but are not limited to:

  • Higher energy levels
  • Insomnia
  • Racing thoughts/lots of creative ideas
  • Destructive behavior such as gambling and spending too much money
  • High sexual drive/multiple sexual partners
  • Having a high self esteem/ego boost
  • Speaking very quickly and having trouble wording thoughts
  • Short attention span
  • Increased socialization

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Lack of energy/fatigue
  • Isolation
  • Lack of enjoyment in hobbies
  • Low sexual drive
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Over/under eating
  • Harmful behaviors such as drug or alcohol use, cutting, etc.

Mania periods can last between a week and a month, and depression symptoms can typically last a month to several months.


So, the question is, what causes Bipolar Disorder? While there is no definitive proof yet on what causes this specific mental illness, there are a few different theories. Some research has shown through MRI and PET scans, that there is a slight structural and functional difference in the brain of those affected with bipolar disorder versus people considered healthy or those with other mental illnesses. It may mean that there is something actually different in the brain of those with bipolar disorder. Other research shows that our neurotransmitters may over or under deliver certain chemicals to the brain of those affected with bipolar. These chemicals are things such as dopamine and serotonin.

One of the biggest scientific break throughs of bipolar disorder and why people are diagnosed with it, is genetics. Here’s a statistic for you – two thirds of people who suffer from bipolar disorder have AT LEAST one other family member who has been diagnosed. If one parent has a family member suffering from bipolar disorder, their children have a 15 to 30 percent chance of being diagnosed as well. When it’s in both sides of the family, the percentage is much higher – 50 to 75 percent. The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) has funded research that shows that there may even be a specific gene that contributes to bipolar disorder. They have also realised that most sufferers are also affected by secondary mental illnesses, such as anxiety, and have substance abuse problems.


So how do we manage bipolar disorder? Well, most people can manage their mental illness through medication. Most bipolar patients are able to manage through antidepressants in addition to anti psychotics or mood stabilizers. Personally, I am on one antidepressant (Pristiq) and two anti psychotics/mood stabilizers (Abilify and Latuda). My antidepressant helps deal with my depression periods and boost my serotonin stimulation, whereas my anti psychotics help put a lid on my mania episodes. The problem that most patients find with medication is finding the right mixture for your individual self. Not everyone responds the same to specific bipolar medication treatments. Another issue with medication is compliance – many bipolar sufferers do not want to be on medication, as they are scared of losing their mania episodes. Especially those with Bipolar II, as they suffer from more depression and their mania is a lesser degree. There’s something about mania in Bipolar II patients that is alluring. You feel so good about yourself and genuinely enjoy life. This compared to severe depression is the only happiness we’ve ever known and it is tough to give it up, as we don’t know what it feels to have a middle ground.


The other and very important aspect of managing bipolar disorder is therapy. Therapy has been extremely important for me and my recovery and management of bipolar. While bipolar is not something that we can turn on and off, there are certain tools that you can use to manage your episodes and either help lessen the degree of them or lessen the time frame of which you suffer. For example, my therapist and I have compiled a list of things to do when I am depressed, and a list of things to do when I am manic. Having this list readily available helps me to find things to do to get me out of my funk of depression, as well as find activities to help calm my mind when I am in hypomania. I believe that having a professional assist you in management of bipolar disorder is one of the most significantly important portions of recovery. Another aspect of therapy in bipolar patients is that while it is a chemical imbalance issue that causes depression episodes, it can be caused by triggers as well. Things such as break ups, conflict, issues at work, etc., can cause depression episodes to come on or last longer than usual. Therapy can help you work through these different triggers and therefore help with your episodes.


Overall, Bipolar Type II Disorder is a very debilitating illness and there is a huge misconception of what it is by those who do not personally suffer from it. It can make you feel very not in control of yourself, and is quite scary to experience at times. Between not feeling in control of your decisions and actions when in a manic episode, and the suicidal thoughts that can come with depression, it’s a very unnerving position to be in.


I hope that this has been enlightening to those who may not have known much about bipolar type II disorder before now and that I was able to educate you. It is something I am extremely passionate about and hope to end the stigma of mental illness. Bipolar disorder is a manageable condition, but it is not something we have a choice in. Our body and brain is literally different than those who do not suffer. Thank you so much to those of you who read this post that is so close to my heart. Until next month.


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