Bipolar disorders are a series of mental illnesses that affect mood. A mild form of bipolar is usually called bipolar 2. In all bipolar disorders, a person has extreme mood swings from highs or lows. The highs are known as mania and the lows are called depression. Millions of people suffer from these mood disorders. There is no one cause for the mental disorder, but there are treatments available that can manage the disease and help a person live a more balanced life.
In most forms of bipolar disorder, a person suffers from mania, which is an extreme high. But in mild bipolar disorders, a person has hypomania instead. In a hypomanic episode a person feels happy, but not ecstatic: energetic, but not hyperactive. The symptoms of hypomania are less severe than mania. There is none of the reckless behavior, racing thoughts, or fast talking that is frequently found in manic episodes. With hypomania the symptoms are closer to normal behavior.
The depressive episode of bipolar 2 is evident when a person feels sad, melancholy or hopeless for several weeks or a few months. Other signs of depression are eating or sleeping too much. Conversely in other situations some people suffering from depression eat or sleep very little, which leads to other problems such as severe weight loss or mental distress from lack of sleep. People who are depressed also show very little interest in hobbies, work or family. With severe bouts of depression a person may feel suicidal or actually attempt to end his life.
Mood disorders affect everyone differently. Scientists are not certain what causes bipolar disorders or why one person has bipolar 2 instead of bipolar 1. But it is suspected there are a few contributing factors. Heredity may play a part. Experts notice that in some cases several members of a family suffer from bipolar disorders. Environmental changes like marriage, birth of a child, death of a loved one, job loss or a move can trigger the symptoms of bipolar 2 in some people. There is also evidence that biochemical changes or physical changes in the brain are related to bipolar disorders. Hormonal fluctuation can also cause bipolar 2 symptoms.
There are many prescription drugs available that treat the symptoms of bipolar 2. These mood stabilizers keep a person balanced emotionally. Drugs like lithium and antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil have all proven effective. The problem is finding the right drug and the right dosage. It usually takes trial and error to find the best combination of drugs for an individual. Psychotherapy is also highly recommended for those suffering from mood disorders. Behavioral therapy is useful in helping people to recognize behaviors that may trigger a hypomanic or depressive episode.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “The deep mood swings of bipolar disorder may last for weeks or months, causing great disturbances in the lives of those affected, and those of family and friends, too.” Millions of people from all works of life are afflicted with extreme mood disorders, and according to experts a large percentage remains undiagnosed. Bipolar 2 can be managed with drugs and therapy, but if left untreated bipolar disorders have a high suicide rate, states the Mayo Clinic.