Catherine-Zeta Jones made public this past week that she recently sought help from a mental facility to help with her Bipolar II disorder. Jones deserves applause for her bravery in disclosing this personal information because unfortunately, even today there is a stigma associated with any type of mental disorder. Many other famous people have suffered from Bipolar I or II including Patty Duke, Mel Gibson, Ben Stiller, Kurt Cobain, Sting, and Ozzy Osbourne just to name a few. Bipolar II is a disorder that is difficult to diagnose, manage, and can be destructive if left untreated. Bipolar II definition, phases, symptoms, and common treatments will be addressed in the remainder or this article, with the hope of raising awareness about this prevalent disorder that affects many people’s lives and relationships.
What is Bipolar II disorder?
Bipolar II (also sometimes called “soft” Bipolar) is different from Bipolar I in that Bipolar I sufferers fluctuate between episodes of extreme depression and extreme episodes of mania, whereas Bipolar II sufferers have prolonged periods of depressive states that cycle to a milder form of mania known as hypomania. Bipolar II is a mental disorder and can be destructive over time if left unmanaged. A major trigger of Bipolar I and II episodes is stress, which may have been what happened to Catherine-Zeta Jones due to her stressful year with her husband Michael Douglas’s bout with throat Cancer.
Bipolar II sufferers can fluctuate repeatedly between these four stages
Long lasting depression: People suffering from Bipolar II generally experience depressive states that are considered in the medical field as equal to “clinical depression,” characterized by feelings of worthlessness, low energy and apathy, loss of appetite, loss of pleasure and interest in social or everyday activities, sleep disturbances, a consistently depressed mood and even thoughts of suicide. These depressive episodes can last weeks, months, and more rarely years if not treated. These bouts of depression bring much torment to the sufferer and often they are not able to function or participate in daily life activities until it passes.
Hypomania is a milder form of the known “full blown manic stage” a Bipolar I sufferer experiences. When in the hypomania stage, the Bipolar II sufferer is still functional and non-psychotic, but experiences an elevated mood, a time of increased productivity and creativity, and a very positive self image. Although they have useful energy, the hypomania stage generally produces irritability and may become quite tiresome to the victim and those around them.
A Mixed Form of Bipolar II exists when depression and hypomania symptoms occur together at the same time. When this mixed stage of Bipolar II occurs, excessive speech and racing thoughts may happen in the same time period as the patient experiences anguish and depression making it more difficult to diagnosis than Bipolar I.
A period of calm and normalcy is yet another stage of bipolar II. During this stage the patient may display no symptoms of hypomania or depression for prolonged periods, causing them to think they are well. This misconception may lead patients to cease taking medication, which is not recommended. Bipolar in any form does not go away on its own and is dependent on various professional treatments including therapy and medication for the sufferer to live a fairly normal life.
Common treatments for Bipolar II disorder
Both Bipolar I and II are treated basically with medications and psychotherapy. Types and dosages vary depending on a person’s particular symptoms. Some of the medications used in the treatment of Bipolar I and II are mood stabilizers including Lithium, Depakote, and Lamictal among others.
Antidepressants such as Wellbutrin, Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil are generally used with mood stabilizers for Bipolar I, as antidepressants alone may trigger a manic episode. Treating depression in Bipolar II is especially important so antidepressants are usually prescribed. Occasionally antipsychotic drugs like Seroquel, Risperdal, or Zyprexa may be necessary in combination with antidepressants when a depressive or manic episode persists and is not managed sufficiently with antidepressants alone.
When medication alone doesn’t work, psychotherapy is recommended as additional treatment and may be done one-on-one, with family, or in groups. Lifestyle changes may also help manage both Bipolar I and II. Such changes include getting more sleep, regular exercise, and managing drug and alcohol abuse.
In other instances, a hospital stay may be necessary to stabilize a severe depressive or manic state. It is important to remember that Bipolar disorder is manageable through these various treatments. The key is to seek help from a professional as soon as early symptoms occur. Help is available, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should in no way be substituted for professional medical advice. If you think you have Bipolar disorder, seek professional help immediately.
Catherine Zeta Jones Bipolar Disorder Treatment: People.com
Bipolar Disorder fact sheet-CAMH
Bipolar treatment: Are bipolar I and bipolar II treated differently? – MayoClinic.com