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 Marcia Purse

Evidence Shows Bipolar II is as Disabling as Bipolar I - For Different Reasons

By April 22, 2014

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Bipolar I and IIIt's pretty common to think of bipolar II disorder as being a "less serious" illness than bipolar I, but Drs. Holly A. Swartz, and Michael E. Thase concluded differently. According to their article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, bipolar II "is at least as disabling as bipolar I disorder." The reasons given are that people with bipolar II:
  • Experience a more chronic course of illness,
  • Have more lifetime days spent depressed, and
  • Have a lower probability of returning to prior levels of functioning between episodes
than those with bipolar I disorder.

If you're diagnosed with bipolar II, does this analysis change the way you think about your illness, or just seem to confirm what you felt about it already? Many people have already shared their thoughts - what are yours?

Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar II Disorder
Differences Between Bipolar I and Bipolar II

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Learn more or join the conversation!
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August 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm
(1) Rider3 says:

This definitely confirms what I’ve been feeling. It’s such a long road.

August 17, 2010 at 4:09 am
(2) abnoos (L) says:

I couldn’t agree more

August 17, 2010 at 8:53 am
(3) Heather says:

I totally agree with this. It’s as if the disease isn’t as dramatic, but over time, so many days are just wasted.

August 17, 2010 at 10:01 am
(4) Laurie says:

I totally agree with this. It is a real drag when other people conclude that BP II is less disabling than BP I and give us the attitude of “what’s the matter with you; you are exaggerating, this isn’t as serious.”

August 17, 2010 at 10:01 am
(5) Trish Austin says:

It confirms what I’ve experienced. However, when I’m in periods of low depression or no depression, I have to use the time wisely. Do things that will reduce the chances of depression returning or returning and turning into a severe depression. Like having a plan if I notice my mood slightly changing or my sleep changing. I stick to a routine. I research natural ways of reducing the chance of depression, I eat well, I’m trying to exercise-ugh/I was once an exercise addict for most of my life! How, one can change? Confusing. But, the bottom line is when I’m not depressed to use the time to reduce that severe depression from coming back. I’ve recently read some great books that have helped me. I’m sensitive to rainy days. So, I have a light box. It’s very important for me to find non drug ways to deal with my disease. My body and mind has rejected every mood stabilizer in a BIG way.

August 17, 2010 at 10:02 am
(6) KIT BURNS says:

I was diagnosed as bi-polar 1 in 1981…at the age of 33 (also diagnosed as graves in the same year …hypo-active thyroid) my life went into the toilet…fast !!
i could NOT take lithium (nausia..vomiting..weight loss..i was ALREADY SKINNY)
went untreated for 12 yrs. for mania…and..anti-depressants did NOTHING but give me WEIRD SYMPTOMS !!
I found the CURE for me and some of my friends are ALSO symptom free !!
and its SOOOOO inexpensive !! $5.00 FOR A 3 MONTHS SUPPLY !!

August 17, 2010 at 10:42 am
(7) Sharon says:

Yes, I can totally relate. I struggle with daily life, and often wonder when the highs will come again as they are a release from the on-going depression.

August 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm
(8) Nancy says:

Absolutely true for me. Gets frustrating, because I want to function
like I use to, but either tired or overwhelmed. Husband doesn’t get it nor will he try support group or therapy. Luckily I have great sons, therapy and meds working.
In addition to these, exercise, prayer, no alcohol and socializing with people like myself help, but I have to get out of the bed/house to do these. Thanks for the info/comments!

August 17, 2010 at 1:42 pm
(9) anonymous says:

I am bipolar II, and luckily, I’ve been pretty stable for a number of years now. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t get depressed – I tend to get depressed more than hypomanic. What mainly depresses me is that I can’t work a full 40 hour job. I get burned out so easily, and get stress related headaches, eyeaches, and the such when I try. It stinks not to have a lot of money. I also don’t have a car, and live with my parents. A lot of times socializing with friends or doing activities is limited since I don’t have a car. Other times, it’s just bipolar – depressed for no reason but the illness.

August 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm
(10) Brett G says:

What I was curious about was anger. The main issue I have faced is anger, which led to the diagnosis. I can’t find much anywhere about anger being a major BP II symptom. Has anyone else had this struggle or heard of this as part of BP II? Not sure if this is a specific BP II thing or what.

October 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm
(11) shelby says:

Hey there Brett, I have major anger issues when I am going down. I lose my temper so badly, when I am usually an easy going person. Just this morning, a guy drove past me and honked because he thought I was taking up too much of his lane (he was overtaking me in a lane that was non existant, as I was turning right, so he was totally in the wrong). I was instantly furious and just went off, leaning on my horn for a few seconds, and thumping the steering wheel (and having a good yell as well) What made it worse was my two children were sitting in the back seat (I was taking them to school) and witnessed the whole thing. Its not the first time. The anger thing for me is a big problem because I have three children under 7, and they of course notice the fluctuations of having an easy going, happy mum to an insane, seething, furious and extremely aggressive one. In summary, I can totally relate! However I have just painted my fingernails an obscenely bright red, and feel a heap better. ha.

August 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm
(12) Suzy says:

Regarding the anger that goes along with Bipolar II, well at least for me, I get a rage-type anger, that accompanies my hypo mania, and sometimes, instead of getting the hypo mania, I will just get anger and rage. I call it hypo raging – just a word a made up myself.. So, the person who was asking about the anger, yes, it really does exist, at least for me..

August 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm
(13) The Cook says:

Another factor to consider is the much higher incidence of suicide in BP II than in BP I. Many BP Is don’t ever get depression.

August 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm
(14) mattsmadre says:

Thank you. Even the psychologist who diagnosed me made me feel like I shouldn’t feel as disabled as I do. It never stops, never goes away, affects every minute of my life and has me constantly second guessing myself so I don’t do or say anything to hurt someone else. I find it extremely disabling even with medication.

August 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm
(15) burrlady says:

BP 2 isn’t easy. I also cycle dramatically – I can change from extreme suicidal to extreme high mania as i walk through the house. I was misdiagnosed as having major depression for years but after so many meds changes I feel strong, have clarity and a good ‘sense of self’. Do others feel as if they are bullied or treated as stupid at times – I find this adds to the confusion in my mind. I didn’t ask to be different but I am so glad I am. Seeing the world in a different way is wonderful – hate the black times but love the rainbows :)

August 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm
(16) Katy says:

This confirms what I feel, altho I’ve always been glad that psychosis is not something I have to deal with. I am chronically depressed, and as I get older, it’s harder and harder to return to full functioning.

August 17, 2010 at 7:58 pm
(17) nightbird says:

I was diagnosed as bp2 about ten years ago. I’d spent most of my life not quite managing. I was on meds up to two years ago when due to the side effects I took myself gradually off them, and moved away from the stress that sent me into constant cycling. I do manage, but it takes me a long time to finish anything. When I say I am not doing it today since I don’t feel like it, I mean that. Due to the amount of health effects meds caused, including catarachs, and the lack of ability to do the things that calm me I have chosen not to resume meds as I don’t have the ping pong triggers now. But I have days I don’t do much of anything because I can’t. And while the depression isn’t bad, that is because I have ways of luring myself out of it. But I could never work a standard job, and add stress and I’m a basket case. Type one is dramatic and everyone can see why its disabling, but type 2 is very subtle and individual and I think is often misread for a long time as lack of motivation. But motivate me all you will, if it requires concentration and that day I can’t, its not going to happen.

August 17, 2010 at 9:01 pm
(18) Meghan says:

I was originally diagnosed as Bipolar II because I hadn’t experienced any psychosis with my manias and was able to “function” … defined by my psychiatrist as holding a job and maintaining relationships. But as time went on, the illness evolved and psychosis came and my ability to “function” disappeared. The diagnosis was changed to Bipolar I. It continues to morph, the cycles of depression then mania replaced mainly by mixed episodes and irritable manias. I don’t think the diagnosis has anything to do with ability to function. It is individual.

August 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm
(19) jms says:

This really sucks! I know I have to live with this forever. It’s like a diabetic who needs insulin everyday. I am lucky there are meds that work for me and now it’s habit to remember to take them!! A horrible , (rare side-effect from Lamictal) which I have is intensely painful menstrual cramps and I can’t take ibuprofin products. YET, I am able to use pain patches and they really work. SO, by GOD’s grace, I hang in there! :)

August 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm
(20) Bill says:

So II is worse than I? Not for the people I’ve met in the two different DBSA groups I’m involved with – running one and visiting another.

You guys haven’t said a word that most of us haven’t experienced ourselves. I’ve had depression so deep you’d think I was in a coma, I’ve had a major mania run where I was totally manic for a few days, crashed a bit, then was right back manic again. I’ve been a rapid-cycler most of my life. Lets not forget the mixed episode – I had every last bit of energy and fast thinking from mania so I could try to kill myself from the depressive side. I’m only here now as I was just too hasty, and only got violently sick instead dying.

I’ve roughly spent over 75% of my life in either mild depression or worse, every type except for postpartum or drug-enduced, and every symptom except excessive crying. The level of mania I’ve reached most of the time was enough to totally override my ability to choose right from wrong. I landed up in prison for something I could never possibly do when “normal”.

More dramatic? sure, but do you think everything is just fine when we drop back down from the “drama” into “everyday”? life.

And I is less diagnosable? I was bipolar I for 37 years before being diagnosed properly. I had a doc put me on Prozac without a moo stabilizer, and I went into a bull blown mania episode in a heartbeat.

Guess it all gets down to what you know and what you surmise. If you could walk in my shoes for a while you’d quickly change your mind. You see, I know first hand of what you go through, but you seem to have no clue of what I go through.

August 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm
(21) Kryslyn says:

First off, to Bill, I found it rather…disheartening that you pretty much bashed this article and called II sufferers delusional.

On another note, while this article just tells us what we know, it validates it. I kind of felt guilty thinking that *maybe* II is just as bad, if not worse, than I. And for the people who were talking about the anger, I get that, too. It goes along with hypomania I read, and that’s all I ever get. I’m rapid cycling, and can switch in a day, making it worse–I can be fine one moment, then the next I go into a cleaning frenzy and snap at everyone. I start fights with my family about things I have argued about every episode before and I can’t calm down. I scream (unusual for me), then end up stomping back to my room and bursting into tears.

August 18, 2010 at 2:36 am
(22) Diand says:

I do not have BP I or II. I grew up with a step mom, who I believed was manic (that’s what I called it). The lives you live are so inter-twined with your family, work or friends. I can not begin to understand what it is like. My family suffers from anxiety and depression, which I have encountered both. I just wanted to share with you all and know that other people do care what you go through and try to understand better ways they can help you too.

August 18, 2010 at 9:09 am
(23) Diane Rainey says:

my mom was bp1 AND SO AM I …this illness has run roughshod over every aspect of my life..i cannot ebgin to tell you. im 4 years away from a 3 year run with 15 inpatient trips.suicide attempts .etc .having bp in gneral is bad and i dont want to get into a competition but bipolar 1 is the second most serious mental illness. ulkess you have been in full blown mania. you cant get it. I am not trying to anger anyone. Just speaking from experince. I also will go out on a limb ad say its so overdiagnosed it isnt even funy. Its not cool to have BP far from it. It is very hereditary. Please dont act like its a very comon illness cause it is not. currently lithium is working, with the weight gain and other issues. Thank God for Lithium.

August 18, 2010 at 9:21 am
(24) Ree says:

I can appreciate all the comments from those with BPII. But let me just give you a bit of an insight in to my world. I have BPI. i have been hospitalized 4 times in 3 years. One of those times was for 4 months. I’m on many meds which have resulted in a 70 pound weight gain. My nights can be filled with hallucinations and delusions. My command hallucinations have led me to follow the command to kill my husband. I went in to our room with a butcher knife in hand. I suffer severe depression but I can’t take antidepressants because I become manic. I’m certainly not downplaying the suffering of those with BPII. I’m only saying that I would gladly exchange places with BPII.

August 18, 2010 at 10:56 am
(25) bipolar says:

I want to weigh in here. As Ree said, this is not a competition. The key here is that the doctors have said bipolar II is just as disabling as bipolar I. No one is saying that people with bipolar I don’t have a rough time. What is being said is that people with bipolar II have an equally rough time, but in a very different way.

For me personally, as a bipolar II, the point that is both disturbing and recognizable is that those with BP II are less likely to return to full stability between episodes. Even if I’m not in a severe depression, depressive symptoms still have a debilitating effect on my daily life most of the time.

There’s no argument that mania is more serious than hypomania, and I am grateful that I don’t experience mania. The reason I feel “vindicated” by what these doctors wrote is that someone has finally expressed how my bipolar II disorder disables me severely in its own way, and that bipolar II, though profoundly different from bipolar I, should not be treated as a less serious condition.

August 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm
(26) Princey says:

Interesting that people with cancer or Alzheimers, or any other disease don’t compare one to another like this. They are both disabling and destructive to life. I have BP2 and I’ve been hospitalized many times too and I won’t even go into what else because we all know the story too well.

People who don’t have BP think that this is really beside the point and ineffective. Unfortunately they think that we’re all just crazy and looney tunes whatever you number it. If we can’t respect each other’s experience how the heck can we ever get respect for this illness from folks who don’t have it.

August 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm
(27) Sally says:

This article stated plainly and simply what I have thought for the last 25+ years. I was relieved to be diagnosed BPII. My mother was BPI, annual cycling with high mania. Her behavior was inappropriate and she was hospitalized often in later years. Her chronic severe alcoholism exasperated her condition which later included psychotic episodes.
My BPI includes severe depression and an occasional productive day once a month or so. I also as many have anxiety, Social Anxiety Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder and mild OCD when anxiety is high.
For those with BPI and high mania the social stigma can be very hard to deal with. Most seem to loose all credibility if their mania’s have caused them to act out to the point of being hospitalized.
With BPII most can hide their condition from others. People may see changes but often have no clue what is going on.
JMO ;)

August 18, 2010 at 9:14 pm
(28) pac says:

It confirms what I’ve felt to be true.

My understanding is that the rate of suicide is higher among those with BP II.

Given the choice, I’d pass on both forms.

August 18, 2010 at 9:43 pm
(29) diana Marks says:

I think that the levels of functionings are lower for most diagnosed Bipolar I. I think that most Bipolar II they never experience the severe psychosis that often occurs in all states (depressed, mixed, and manic) which occur with those with Bipolar I.
However, in terms of suicide, since many suicides can be done on impulse, I think the odds there may be even. Because living with these disorders is very hard and sometimes you reach you ending point.

August 19, 2010 at 6:22 am
(30) N says:

Sounds about right. I sometimes feel like people breathe a sigh of relief when I say I have BP2, as if it’s not as physically and emotionally taxing as BP1 and it’s not all that bad. Hey, I don’t have BP1, but I have BP2 and it’s awful. I struggle with it every day and it’s landed me in some bad places.

August 19, 2010 at 6:54 am
(31) Polar Bear says:

Either way you look at it, anyone with BP is screwed. We all have to deal with our own set of demons. I’m BP2 and I’ve had a lot of the symptoms. I used to be an avid reader and writer and now I have to read pages over and over to get any of it to sink in. My concentration is completely shot. It took me years to get through community college because depression would knock me out for a semester or two. And when I finally transferred to a university, I had to drop out of school in my Junior year at Cal because I went full on manic (definitely not a hypomanic episode) that was not euphoric, but rather scary and ridden with anxiety attacks. I’ve gained about 25 pounds since my hometown friends last saw me and I feel ashamed to see them because a) I look way different, b) I don’t feel like myself, and c) because I have nothing good to tell them. I’ve had to move back to my mom’s house and can’t for the life of me get out of bed, let alone go out to get a job while I get on stable ground. I’ve actually been home since March and have yet to see any of my friends. I only leave the house- hell, my room- when I need to see the doctor. On the days where I’m a little clearer, I can see all this and the solutions are obvious. Get up, run a brush through your hair, exercise, go out and meet your friends because they’ll love you no matter what, make plans and follow through, know you’ll get back to school…but that’s all easily said. It’s so difficult. Sorry, I know that was a long rant, but I just wanted to say that I have BP2 and it’s disrupted my life over and over, and it feels like it’s gotten progressively worse. I think people do tend to look at BP2 with the attitude that it’s not so bad…that we should be able to suck it up, but they don’t realize that a lot of it is an internal struggle. Just because you don’t look outwardly ill doesn’t mean you’re not struggling. And no, I don’t think we should be comparing BP1 to BP2. I would just like to see the perception of BP2 change. We may not show some of the symptoms seen in BP1, but it’s no cake walk by any means.

August 19, 2010 at 6:58 am
(32) Polar Bear says:

Oh, and to add to that last comment. I’ve been hospitalized as well for going manic yet again and taking too many pills. =/

August 20, 2010 at 12:55 am
(33) Linda McClure-Woodham says:

Sleep is my lover and my husband knows about my affair.
Have had 5-7 days in bed with no teeth brushing, no showering, and no movement except to the bathroom.
My body becomes unable to resist the temptation of being
out of the world and in a dream world that sometimes is better than my waking life.

August 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm
(34) Barbara says:

I totally agree with this. I have been ill for 11 years. Initially i was misdiagnosed with major depresion. My depressive moods tend to fluctuate but experience major depressive symptoms at least 1x yearly. The right medication has really helped, however i’m resistant to taking meds for the rest of my life and have a hard time with that. I also experience anger and have found that i can deal with some of it by talking with my therapist. Sometimes i wish that the hypomania would last bec i feel so good, so normal

August 23, 2010 at 11:39 am
(35) Trish says:

I agree that this is no contest. I have experienced 3 month long depressions-2 in the last year-that I hate to admit it-I didn’t shower for weeks. brush teeth? no way. Before I was always hypo-manic/had mild depression before being correctly diagnosed. I still don’t feel normal. I brush my teeth and get out of bed now/I pray it continues, but I want to feel happy again. I still don’t feel happy.

August 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm
(36) Juan says:

I have also been diagnosed with bp2. Only after living with it for 16 years. I was hospitalised after my first manic episode because I had a complete psychotic break but all they picked up after a few weeks was a mild depression. Yes, bp2 is harder to notice but people see the differences only they don’t know what’s going on and therefore do not suggest that you go for help.

But where has it left me. Ruined relationships when I get irritated or angry and shout and alienate people, not amounting to much because I’m depressed most of the time. Having all these great plans and goals I want to accomplish (when I’m manic mostly) and then not having the drive or guts to do it because I think I cannot do it, what was I thinking?!? That of course is while the depression kicks in. Dreams of the future therefore stays only that, dreams. Having few friends because I don’t want to leave my room. The constant depression affects my self image. I don’t think much of myself even when people says I’m an ok guy. I just basically don’t want to do anything. But I had to stand on my own feet since I left school so I did my best, and I have a better, if not normal, life now I know what is going on. I on meds. I now know to minimise stress in my life, take my meds, have a regular sleep pattern and contact my psych the moment something is out of place, which the people who know me well normally pick up first.

I have had manic episodes as opposed to hypo, another psychotic break that nearly got me killed, mixed episodes and rapid cycling and it is not nice, so I have compassion on all the bp1 guys but I just wanted you to have an idea of what it is like having those long bouts of depression.

Someone mentioned bp1 people have the same chance to commit suicide than bp2 people, well, it is because of these longer bouts of depression that we have a bigger chance of suicide.

But what I am describing is what most of us ‘lives’ so to ALL you guys out there, may you be surrounded with understanding and caring people and make it through, no matter what.

September 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm
(37) JnKC says:

Let’s face it: the disorder is what it is. Trying to classify which may be worse doesn’t work. The type of Bipolar is a classification for the doctors to use. Which ever type you experience is the worst because it is what affects you.

I was major depression, chronic, etc first. Then the actual beast was found to be BP 2. This is a life-long thing that does not just go away. I prefer BP2 because I really didn’t like the overtly manic experiences. Those stopped when the right drug therapy was applied. I cycle repeatedly and rapidly any given day of the week when I do not take my daytime meds. All the meds given do not cure the problem, they only make it manageable to certain extents.

I had to come to grips in the ’90s and realize I could no longer be a part of the working world or go completely into orbit. My family had to break it to me slowly that it was time to go graze in the pasture for my safety and the safety of others. Yep, anger and rash actions are much better experienced by oneself instead of clobbering the person next to you. BPD has always been a part of my life; it just wasn’t treated until the beginning of the ’80s.

My advice is to learn (through repetitive training) what to do when things just don’t make sense anymore. A person has to actively combat what the disorder calls for being done. I was pretty good at hiding the disorder until the late ’90s when it became unavoidable. How does anyone live with a mental disorder? The same way a person deals with a leg being cut off. Get out there and find a way to live. I normally avoid reacting immediately to things until I can actually process what a good reaction would be.

That only works until you can no longer control the disorder. That is when it is time to visit the good doctor and modify the drug therapy. I really dislike having to deal with all the crap the disorder brings, but I can’t seem to put it all behind me. That is impossible with BiPolar. I’ve found that telling some of your friends (when you actually go see them) that there is a reason or key of sorts they can use to decode my actions. Family and good friends can and will deal with things while others just have to accept that my normal is not their normal.

September 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm
(38) Christine says:

I’m so grateful to read all the comments here, as so many descriptions of your experiences are mine For 20 years I’ve veen dealing with it, meds, therapy, two times when I had to take work leaves. But it mostly comes down to this: i’m chronically depressed. Sometimes i think I should be diagnoses as dysthymic, but I don’t even know what would be accomplished. Right now i work fulltime at a very stressful job. Nobody but husband, doc and only just recently, best friend know about it. Every day is like playing a role in a play and then i come home and become myself: depressed, totalky unproductive, unable to make plans. There are very few moments of joy. I feel robbed. Two months ago i decided to go to a support group (DBSA) and for the first time ever I’m able to talk out loud about who I am, with people like me. Just like us. I look forward to group mtgs, it is very freeing, if just for 90 minutes. Sorry for typos, tapped this out on a mobile device.

September 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm
(39) Light says:

It makes sense I have suffered from biplar 2 since fourth grade, but no one knows it except for me. I have been stuck in depression for most of my like and I am currently seventeen. I have no friends (not like I care) am often irratable and misunderstood, I hate being forced to go to fairs amusement parks etc… Like just seems so dull and pointless. I may never experience the joy of living or simple pleasures because of this. I often think about suicide, it would seem so much easier to just die and get this troublesome life over with.
I rarely ever experience normality, when I do it is noticeable on my part, I feel so much better, but not for long.

October 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm
(40) Jen says:

I was recently diagnosed with BP II. I have been taking Lamotrigine and Clonazepem for slightly over a month now. The meds seem to be working but it’s taking so much longer than I expected. I’m at the point where I feel like I’m in perpetual hell. Dealing with all of this has been extremely difficult for me and my family. I just hope that things get better soon.

November 6, 2010 at 12:01 am
(41) BiPolar Express says:

Having traveled a long diagnostic journey before arriving at BP2, I was so relieved to find others with similar life experiences and feelings. Like many, I feel trapped in a condition that makes employment almost impossible. The long periods of sleep and the lack of ambition to complete even the simplist of tasks are all too familiar. I’m a rapid cycler but with meds, it’s become more manageable. I do the Lexapro and Lactimil with an Adderall chaser. Even at that, I still struggle with the “quality of life” issue. Some days, I feel like I’m just surviving for the sake of surviving. Times when I don’t feel like I’m adding any kind of value by hanging around. Because I cycle so frequently, I don’t want to burden my friends for support. I tell myself that I just need to learn how to cope. My wife still doesn’t understand the condition…most people don’t though. What I’d like to read some day are testimonials to actual cures. Hope is everything.

December 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm
(42) emma says:

yes it’s as bad, the anger the depression the frustration the anger morphing into full blown fury at a drop of a hat. I don’t care how much I don’t earn I’m just happy to be finally diagnosed so I can start putting my life back together

June 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm
(43) Jane says:

I think any “competition” about which BP you have is silly, especially since the research docs who are not using the DSM are up to about #5 or 6. They are all very, very had to live with.

I went for 10 years misdiagnosed with unipolar depression , going thru just about every anti depressant available with limited relief, then became a statistic and switched to BP2 when my tdoc noticed how angry I would get in sessions with her. Also agitated and anxious. Her office was next to my pdoc—noise was heard, dx. was changed. Thats one thing about BP2, it does seem harder for the pdocs to spot.

Anyway, then the great search for mood stabilizer was on. I was put on geodon because I was in mixed moods so much and I have the nasty, dysphoric hypomania. Geodon was a bad move, it turned me into a anxious, agitated person who could not string two sentences together. I was crawling out of my skin and could not stand to be touched. And what did the word sleep mean anyway? Off to hospital for cold turkey removal from geodon. I got very, very, lucky considering I was in a rural hospital.

The pdoc there was brilliant–he got me on a drug combo that is still working two years later.

Yes, I have had some depressions but I have ridden them out, I would rather do that than endure the hypomanias and more med changes. In fact, I started taking diabetic pills rather than give up Seroquel.

One thing we can probably all agree on—why do almost all our meds make us fat?

January 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm
(44) CHERYL says:

It’s so confusing. I medicated the problem with drugs (downers) and alcohol for decades before the correct diagnosis was made. I have Bipolar 2, PTSD, and some neurological problems. I am in the process of going thru SSDI disability right now and it’s really hard. I guess I’m glad that I know what’s wrong with me, but it’s very frustrating and debilitating nonetheless.

January 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm
(45) Robert Frederick Carlson says:

I do experience lower lows than higher highs, so this does confirm more so my current understanding.

March 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm
(46) Floyd says:

I would trade Bipolar II for Bipolar I in a heartbeat. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I think it needs to be said…..

Bipolar II can be far more painful and deadly than Bipolar I, in my opinion. I know plenty of people with type I and type II. However, the mania in Bipolar I has the “wow” factor that soul-crushing chronic depression lacks. A manic person may end up in a police station or in a hospital. Many of them are labelled disabled and they receive a check. Severely depressed people don’t usually make scenes because they’re at home, curled up in the fetal position.

I think you’re less likely to be accepted for disability payments if you have Bipolar II. Again, Bipolar I is more in-your-face and so gives the impression that it is more “severe.” However, mania can be reversed in a matter of hours, days, or weeks. Depression, by contrast, can be much harder to treat and generally takes a lot longer to achieve remission. Plus, mania can even be fun sometimes! I’m not trying to say that bipolar I is a walk in a park, but I think there’s a misconception that bipolar II patients are “more disabled” than bipolar II patients, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bipolar II has a higher mortality rate than bipolar I.

The bipolar II patients that I know, in general, have a much harder time in life than the bipolar I patients.

June 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm
(47) Kim says:

I just now almost left my family and though my therapist and doctor believe that home stress is a huge part of my depression – I feel guilty -like I was just “having a bp2 manic moment” and how I feel isnt real. I cant tell anymore what is really me and that alone makes me want to go away.

August 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm
(48) Anonymous says:

Brett – your symptoms sound very similar to mine. I have experienced very few manic highs, in my life, but a lot of anger, volatility, poor impulse control, and suicidal ideation/planning. When I read that four symptoms are needed to diagnose hypomania if the mood is “merely irritable,” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. My “irritability” takes the form of vicious outbursts against those I love. I have spent years repairing my relationship with my daughter due to the volatile anger and mixed episodes. The article is very validating as my baseline mood is mildly depressed even with my pharmaceutical cocktail. I can also attest that BPII is very debilitating. I’ve been on disability for six years because I’ve had trouble maintaining a stable mood in stressful situations. I so appreciate hearing from people who have “been there” as I face so much ignorance and insensitivity from those who lack experience with this illness.

October 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm
(49) tony says:

I have just recently been diagnosed bipolar 2. (in the last few weeks) am now on lamictal and seroquel and i find the lamictal in particular quite effective-so far. As regards which is more disabling, I find this to be a futile arguement. Both illnesses cause suffering, especially I find the dangerous depressions but we must live and continue to live and hope. In order to try and educate the masses we should try as much as we can to live fulfilling lives. Having arguements and debates about which is more disabling is self defeating. I am not in denial about my illness but I am certainly not going to let it take over my life. Stay strong together.

November 18, 2012 at 3:45 am
(50) Nick says:

I agree with Tony to a point, but this “article” is pure opinion and I would even go so far as to label it pervasive “disinformation”. To even attempt making a statement of one being worse than the other would be completely false, and I have two inarguable words to prove so. Subjective and Relative. The individual spewing this nonsense should have disciplinary actions brought against them. I guess “professionals” are now making such nonsensical comparisons even though every person experiences and feels things differently and in more or less intensity than another. And another thought, why is SSDI / Disability given to patients with severe Bipolar I and not to individuals with severe Bipolar II? Why not both? Now that is actually worth discussion.

April 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm
(51) Phillip says:

I agree with that. I have bipolar 2 with psychosis in depression. I cycle a lot between hypomanic symptoms and depression symptoms. Depression is always my underlying episode but rarely severe. It just sucks because when I get moderately depressed or severely depressed I start hallucinating. I get tired of the cycling and the severe hallucinations aren’t as persistent as manic psychosis but the delusions and hallucinations stick to the theme and they last as long as the depressive episodes last which can be for years.

April 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm
(52) Karen says:

I definately agree with this and so many people especially those closest in my life like family members don’t seem to understand at all. I believe they mostly think I’m lazy and don’t want to do anything. This isn’t the case at all. Noone except someone else with the illness copuld understand how debilitating it can be. Meds which I take consistantly aren’t the answer to everything. They help and sometimes you need them tweeked or changed. It’s complicated.

April 22, 2014 at 4:58 pm
(53) Kez says:

Arguing about which is worse reads as quite vain. Both bp I and II are unfortunate diagnoses. They are in the same family but quite different animals. I just know what I deal with (bp II) and that monster is enough for me to worry about.

Bp II is quite disabling and I haven’t been able to hold a job for years. I am 3 weeks from graduating with an Associate’s degree in graphic design; a degree that has taken me over 12 years to achieve. I don’t remember a lot of what I have been taught due to memory damage caused by the disorder but I do my best.

I want you all to know that you CAN get SSI/SSD for bp II because I did. You may have to wait for 3 or 4 denials but stick with it. It took me 2-3 years to get mine. Just make sure you go through a lawyer that specializes in disability.

I wish you all stability but I just hope people stop segregating themselves by diagnoses and start integrating and realize that we all suffer in different ways but just that; we’re all suffering through something, no matter to what degree or label. All of us are important and what we deal with is real, no matter what degree or severity. NO ONE is less important based on a diagnosis. People need to stop competing and start coming together.

April 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm
(54) Arnitra Harris says:

I feel that big polar from all spectrums is hard. We as big polar patients have to understand that we will not make everyone understand our condition. I have lived with since my college years in the late 90′s. It is very difficult with waking and not knowing what mood you will be in. The nedicine has made me huge and I feel worthless. I am attempt to move through life for my daughter who has to live seeing this illness each day. I hate that for her. Some days, I just want to end it all because I feel like life has to be better somewhere else. My best friend in the world no longer wants to be my friend due to my actions. My family don’t quite understand me and that causes so much havoc. So I believe the illnesses are the same. This was basically discussing the disorder in general.

April 22, 2014 at 8:16 pm
(55) Kathy Powers says:

A label is supposed to describe something. When one starts dividing “people labels” into Is and IIs, the original description disintegrates, rather than refining it. As a lifelong patient, I have little use in getting hung up on labels ascribed to me. I have other more important things to do.

April 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm
(56) Kathy Powers says:

I read all of the comments with interest, especially the ones about anger. I think anger is a result of unresolved aggression. Research shows that aggression turned inward often the result of a physical predisposition to aggression (in the serotonin systems of the brain) and emotional and/or sexual trauma in childhood.

Since we have no control over the past (childhood), perhaps we could improve our current environment and take meds to address the physical end of the syndrome.

DSM labeling does not prognosticate the course of our illness. We do!

April 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm
(57) phillip says:

I think the article covers my life pretty well, in short. Whether one is worse than two i wouldnt know as i fit more in the two category. No ones mentioned bipolar 3 yet-more hypomania and rapid cycling and what I call being hypomanic and depressed at the same time. Maybe it will ring a bell. Im on the road to wellness and recovery thanks to meds and counsel! 4 months on Latuda 80mg. Give it a try if you havent! No weight gain either. Thanks!

April 27, 2014 at 5:39 am
(58) susan says:

I am bipolar 2 and get so frustrated daily trying to get ahead. After so many years I am learning to take one day at a time and this helps immensely, but am fortunate to be retired and thankfully do not have to work, which is such an added burden when coping with this illness.
I am lucky to have a supporting husband and family.

May 13, 2014 at 11:02 am
(59) April says:

I have bipolar 1 (it’s severe, but I’ve finally found the right combo of meds where I feel totally stable now) and always thought bipolar 2 was more crippling. Most people I know have that version and can’t seem to function at times…so I agree with this.

May 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm
(60) jkg22 says:

I am taking Latuda at 120 mg (max dosage). It’s approved specifically for bipolar depression. During my “stable periods,” I am basically just less depressed than during my depressed periods. It’s true that my depressed periods are really deep depression, so less-depressed means functional, but the Latuda isn’t helping get me any further than functional, which is still not great.
I’d like to add that I like Kathy’s comments about labeling. My initial diagnosis was depression, but antidepression meds triggered severe hypomanic periods(of course). I was re-diagnosed as bipolar II, but my pattern has varied a lot over the course of my life, to the point that that label is totally meaningless now. Really, the only label I could honestly give myself now is “Not Bipolar-I.” That’s all I know for sure.

May 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm
(61) Rosie says:

I have never understood why bipolar 2 was not thought to be as serious as bipolar 1, I have a friend who is BP 1 and he has never been depressed- oh how I wish I could say that! My life has just gone from one depression to another with a very occasional “up”. I am lucky I am still here.

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