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What Does Bipolar 2 Disorder Look Like? Signs & Symptoms

Manic episodes in bipolar II disorder are generally mild or short-lived (hypomania), and the person may be more prone to depression than mania

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by episodes of elevated mood interspersed with episodes of depression. Unlike bipolar I disorder where the manic episodes are severe and persistent, manic episodes in bipolar II disorder are generally mild or short-lived (hypomania), and the person may be more prone to depression than mania.

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by the occurrence of one or more major depressive episodes and at least one hypomanic episode. 

  • During a hypomanic episode, the person appears to have elevated confidence, high energy, loud and rapid speech, and a reduced need to sleep. They may appear euphoric or excessively irritable. 
  • During a depressive episode, the person may have low energy and activity, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and a lack of interest. 
  • In between manic and depressive episodes, the person may be able to lead a normal and productive life

What are bipolar disorders?

Bipolar disorders are a group of mental conditions characterized by unusual shifts in mood, energy, concentration, and activity levels that interfere with the ability to carry out daily activities. 

Bipolar disorder is classified into categories: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. A fourth category includes bipolar disorders that do not fit in any of these three categories. These are classified as other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.

What are symptoms of bipolar 2 disorder?

People with bipolar 2 disorders present with symptoms based on manic and depressive stages.

Mania in bipolar 2

  • Highly inflated self-esteem
  • Reduced need to sleep
  • Hyperactivity
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts and drastic change of ideas
  • Very short attention span
  • Increased goal-directed activity
  • Engagement in activities such as unprotected sex, gambling, and shopping sprees

Depression in bipolar 2

  • Low energy and easily fatigued
  • Depressed mood for most of the day
  • Decreased interest
  • Decreased concentration
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Inability to think clearly or make decisions

Who is at risk of developing bipolar 2 disorder?

Studies have suggested that people with bipolar disorders may have certain structural and functional abnormalities in their brains. Several genes have been found to be associated with bipolar 2 disorders. 

The following people are at risk of developing bipolar II disorder:

  • An individual whose immediate family member suffers from the disease
  • Early teens and elderly people


What Is Bipolar Disorder? Symptoms, Manic Episodes, Testing
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Medically Reviewed on 12/2/2021


Image Source: iStock Images

National Institutes of Health. Bipolar Disorder.

Gitlin M, Malhi GS. The existential crisis of bipolar II disorder. Int J Bipolar Disord. 2020;8(1):5.

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