Diagnosing Bipolar II

Lynne Taetzsch Health Guide
  • Those of us who get a milder form of mania called hypomania, in which the symptoms are not as severe and certainly never require hospitalization, are said to have Bipolar II in contrast to Bipolar I.  But very often, because we only complain about our depressions and actually welcome the hypomania, we are misdiagnosed.

    That is exactly what happened to me.  Most of my life I had no idea I was bipolar, even though I'd had symptoms since I was a teenager.  I loved being hypomanic, and often tried to enhance those feelings through alcohol and drugs.  After all, I could accomplish so much more with my increased energy, creativity, and lack of need for sleep.
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    I had gone to therapists at various times in my life, but was never diagnosed as bipolar.  Then in my forties I found myself in the middle of a deep depression that forced me to take a leave of absence from work.  After several meetings with a psychiatrist, he told me my life history indicated I was bipolar.  Wow, that explained so much!

    Now researchers in Spain have developed a simple test which they believe will help distinguish between those who are bipolar and those who are unipolar (suffering from depression alone).  According to the IDIBIPS (Institute d’Investigacions Biomedique August Pi i Sunyer), it typically takes eight to ten years for Bipolar II to be diagnosed.  With this simple test, studies show that more than 80% of bipolar patients in test groups were identified correctly.

    It’s important to know whether we are suffering from depression alone or bipolar disorder, because medications often work differently on each condition.  In addition, it’s important to manage the highs as well as the lows in order to stabilize our moods.  Hopefully, with this new test, more of us with Bipolar II will be accurately diagnosed and obtain better help much more quickly.  

Published On: March 12, 2007