A Bipolar disorder II type is described by the DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as those episodes where there is more than one major depressive episode followed by one hypomanic episode. This type is also defined as bipolar II disorder or bipolar type II. The essential difference between type I and type II bipolar disorder is the severity of the manic episode. In type I it is severe and may also involve psychotic symptoms of delusions or hallucinations. A type II would specifically have only a hypomanic episode or two without any psychotic conditions.
The symptoms of Bipolar II disorder are more than one depressive episode and one or more hypomanic episode. But one needs to watch carefully if there are manic or mixed episodes before concluding that it is of the type II disorder. Further characteristics like decreased energy levels, sudden weight gain or weight loss, increased levels of despondency, higher levels of irritation and long sessions of crying are also associated with Bipolar II disorder. The signs of hypomania also need to be noted to be able to define a type II disorder. There would be signs of futile and grandiose plans, insomnia, speech that is pressurized, attention or concentration time periods are very brief. Other significant signs are that the patient will behave in a manner that can have very serious implications such as overspending or spending beyond his means because he is feeling very elated.
This type of disorder is believed to be less diagnosed because hypomania is often misunderstood as bursts of high productivity. Sometimes, doctors have even concluded that if an individual were to set goals or targets that are unrealistic, they are hypomanic. Hence knowledge about what causes the Bipolar II disorder should empower the afflicted as well as the family to endure the episodes with dignity.
The effects of the type II disorder are felt in the personality of the patient and his lifestyle. Simple everyday tasks become insurmountable. Lifestyle too is impacted because of the abnormality. Work pressure would in fact increase the chances of the episodes to occur because stress is a very significant factor that causes this affliction. The reasons for this disease to manifest are a combination of genetic defects and external factors such as stress, emotional loss, seasonal changes, changes in the biological clock etc.
An afflicted patient needs to follow the proper treatment procedures prescribed by the doctor. The treatment would be multi-pronged involving medication, therapy, and counseling and in extreme cases ECT. Electroconvulsion treatment is prescribed only when the patient is undergoing a very severe bout of manic depression and would not generally be prescribed for a Bipolar II disorder. Mood stabilizers would be the generic drugs for this type.