Answer: Bipolar 2 is a mental disorder where moods shift between the two extremes of hypomania and depression. As in Bipolar 1, there is a middle ground as well, called euthymia – a symptom-free or “normal” state. Periods of hypomania and depression are called episodes.
In the material below, I’ve used the terms “Bipolar 1 and 2” and “Bipolar I and II” interchangeably, as different researchers use one or the other of the versions.
The mood swings of Bipolar 2 are not necessarily from low to normal to high and back again. Researchers have found that most patients with Bipolar 2 have more depressive episodes than hypomanic.
The article What Is Hypomania? gives in-depth information about the upper end of the Bipolar 2 mood swings. A few of the most common symptoms are:
- Not needing a lot of sleep, but not being tired
- Having more energy than usual
- Risky behavior, such as reckless spending (see Controlling Spending in Mania and Hypomania for strategies that have helped our readers)
- Grandiosity, pressured speech and/or racing thoughts.
One of the things that distinguishes Bipolar II from Bipolar I is that while the symptoms of hypomania can interfere with daily life, they don’t cause “marked impairment in social or occupational functioning.” Another difference is that there are no psychotic symptoms during hypomania. However, psychosis may appear during depressive episodes.