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What is Bipolar II?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Bipolar II is a psychiatric disorder that involves mood swings from depressed to hypomanic states. Unlike bipolar I, also called manic depression, bipolar II does not involve manic states. However, like bipolar I, the person afflicted suffers from varying degrees of mood. This disorder may create depression or anxiety so great that risk of suicide is increased over those who suffer from Bipolar I.

In order to properly diagnose Bipolar II, patients and their doctors must be able to recognize what constitutes hypomania. People in a hypomanic state may experience increased anxiety, sleeplessness, good mood, or irritability. The hypomanic state can last for four days or longer, and patients will note a significant difference in feelings from when they are in a depressed state.

Hypomania may also cause people to feel more talkative, result in inflated self-esteem, make people feel as though their thoughts are racing, and in some cases result in rash choices, such as indiscriminate sexual activity or inappropriate spending sprees. Often, the person who feels anxious or irritable and also has bouts of depression is diagnosed with anxiety disorder with depression, or merely anxiety disorder. As such, they do not receive the proper treatment, because if given an anti-depressant alone, the hypomanic state can progress to a manic state, or periods of rapid cycling of mood can occur and cause further emotional disturbance.

Manic states differ from hypomania because perception of self is generally so deluded as to cause a person to act unsafely and take actions potentially permanently destructive to one’s relationships. Additionally, the manic person may be either paranoid or delusional. Those with mania may feel they are invincible. High manic states often require hospitalization to protect the patient from hurting himself or others.

Conversely, hypomanic patients may find themselves extremely productive and happy during hypomanic periods. This can further complicate diagnosis. If a patient is taking anti-depressants, hypomania may be thought of as a sign that the anti-depressants are working.

Ultimately, though, those with bipolar II find that anti-depressants alone do not provide relief, particularly since anti-depressants can aggravate the condition. Another hallmark of the disorder is rapid cycling between depressed and hypomanic states. If this symptom is misdiagnosed, sedatives may be added to anti-depressants, further creating mood dysfunction.

The frequent misdiagnosis of this disorder likely creates more risk of suicidal tendencies during depressed states. Patients legitimately trying to seek treatment may feel initial benefits from improper medication, but then bottom out when treatments no longer work. The fact that multiple medications may be tried before the correct diagnosis is made can fuel despair and depression.

Depression associated with either bipolar I or II is severe. In many cases, depression creates an inability to function normally. Patients suffering from major depression describe feeling as though things will never feel right again.

Severely depressed patients may not leave their homes or their beds. Appetite can significantly increase or decrease. Sleeping patterns may be disrupted, and people may sleep much longer than usual.

This type of depression does not respond to reason or talking it out, because it is of chemical origin. Though therapy can improve the way a person deals with depression, it cannot remove chemically based depression. Because of what seems an inescapable mood and a feeling that things will never improve, patients frequently contemplate and often attempt suicide.

Once accurate diagnosis is made, treatment consists of many of the same medications used to treat bipolar I. These medications typically include mood stabilizers like lithium or anticonvulsants like carbamazepine (tegretol®), and many people also benefit from a low dose of an antidepressant.

Those with bipolar II rarely need antipsychotic medications since they are not prone to psychotic symptoms or behavior. Even with appropriate medication, it may take some time to stabilize a patient and find the right dosage. When patients have demonstrated suicidal tendencies, hospitalization may be necessary to provide a safe environment where medications can be adjusted accordingly.

When medication is combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, patients seem to respond more quickly and have the most success. Although this disorder is not thought to be caused by traumatic events, such factors as a history of abuse can affect recovery. By approaching the condition with both therapy and medication, the patient is likely to recover fully.

With treatment, those with bipolar I or II can live healthy normal lives and attain success in work and relationships. Many anticonvulsant medications are related to a high incidence of birth defects, however. Patients who are on medication and considering a pregnancy should seek the advice of both their psychiatrist and obstetrician before becoming pregnant.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon359852 — On Dec 21, 2013

How I cured my Bipolar Disorder: I read that omega-3 was being used for psychiatric disorders and gave it a try for myself. It didn’t work, but I noticed that after 13 years my urine had no calcium sediments in it anymore. Before omega-3 supplements, any extra calcium I ate showed up as extra urine sediment.

I then read that calcium was important for proper neuron function and added calcium supplements to my diet thinking that I might not be getting enough. I increased the amount until I started seeing calcium sediments in my urine again. My mental symptoms stopped then.

I believe the mechanism for the success of omega-3 is through its ability to allow the body to maintain a higher blood level of calcium. Higher calcium levels are known to reduce the level of excitability of neurons. Perhaps omega-3 allows the kidneys to reabsorb calcium to a level that satisfies all the body’s requirements.

By Raylan — On Mar 26, 2013

This is an amazing site. I wish I had known about it long before now. I was diagnosed with depression and GAD six years ago and went through many ups and downs. Two years ago, I was prescribed Pristiq and Diazapam for sleep.

Well, at first the Pristiq felt like a godsend and my mood lifted rapidly and I felt euphoric to the point I actually giggled to myself one night at how wonderful I felt. Following that, I became very energetic and productive. I became extremely confident and had flashes of inspiration. I left my job to go back to school. (I'm in my 40's with two children and a wife) I got by on three hours of sleep. I got straight A marks, etc. But then, I made a slow, steady climb into hypomania then mania. It was day by day and a slow progression over the course of a year. I didn't notice my strange behavior until it was almost too late.

I drank more and took up smoking like a chimney. I went on shopping sprees online. I had feelings of reverence about silly little things, like connecting with an old friend and ringing up a $700 bill on my cell. I became a full blown narcissist (from being very reserved and shy before). I had severe mixed episodes. During one of these, I made a solo trip out of town with plans of suicide.

I am fortunate that my increasingly erratic behavior became noticeable and a few events brought it to a head. I had memory blanks as well. I had drifted so far from the person I am it was horrifying. One day, the facade crashed down and it was like a jolt to my soul. I realized I was deeply not well and sought help immediately. My wife saved me. She stood by me and didn't give up on me once. The day the "crack" happened, I cried uncontrollably for three days straight and hid in my room.

Long story short: I was misdiagnosed. I have Bipolar II, not depression and GAD, which may seem frighteningly similar. I was taken off Pristiq immediately by my GP and put on Seroquel XR. This change was literally a lifesaver for me. I saw my Psychologist and she concurred and re-diagnosed me accurately.

My hypo/manic episodes are dead and gone, but I am currently battling a bad bout of depression. After my break, I returned to work at very non-stressful jobs and worked up to applying for a more substantial position at a large corporation.

Everything was fine and Seroquel XR was fine on its own. I went through training and felt confident and ready when placed in my new role. Unfortunately, the job and mainly my manager introduced an increase in stress that I was completely unprepared for.

I found that I always felt a step behind and my memory and efficiency were impaired. I could not multitask at all and constantly felt overwhelmed. As a result, I am on leave and have been trying different medication combinations. Currently, I am on 150mg Seroquel XR, 50mg Lamotrigine twice a day and 10mg of Diazampam at night for sleep. It has been one week at 100mg of Lamotrigine up from 50mg for two weeks.

I am now able to read and stay with a book, which I hadn't been able to do since my depression kicked up again. But I feel very flat and a little agoraphobic.

I am feeling frustrated and down on myself for not being at work and am coming to the realization that I will have to take on a more menial job, despite how hard I worked at school and training up to now. That all goes to waste.

I know even without my condition, life has its ups and downs, but I would just like to feel like I am on solid ground once again. Time will tell.

By anon314400 — On Jan 17, 2013

I was really happy to find this site. I have often thought I was bipolar but never matched the full bipolar I profile. I definitely have bipolar II and although my journey is just beginning. it has gone a long way to know I'm not alone to eliminate the feelings of shame, worthlessness and pain that I had developed.

Right now I am living for today and focusing on a great tomorrow. I know I can live a happy life and turn the page.

By anon293900 — On Sep 28, 2012

I would like to stress the support of the people who run the EMPowerplus program 0I am in Australia and they are in Canada and have called me! I also think that BP2 (in my case anyway) has a hypothalamus input, i.e., in the part of the brain where the circadian rhythm and cluster headaches arise.

Every month, I get a cluster headache (bang behind the eyes) at 4 a.m., and my mood switches up for a week before the downward spiral begins. Further, I have noticed I can have a stable mood, up or down, but my energy level is what is going up and down from inertia to strong activity, and will sometimes push the mood up.

By anon284381 — On Aug 09, 2012

I spent years of my life suffering on and off with what I thought was just depression and treated for it. Twenty-two years ago, I was offered a new treatment, Prozac -- big mistake! I ended up in the hospital. They took me off but I was still thought of as having depression. I experimented with numerous substances with mixed effects. Again, four years ago I was diagnosed with severe depression and put on Effexor. Wow! I felt great right away! I showed up at my counselor's office and he almost didn't recognize me, I was so different! So it might have been the wrong med, but the right med because they figured out I had Bipolar II based on my reactions. I did go back down the tubes mood-wise within a few days and hence "rapid-cycling" was added to the diagnosis.

I ended up with a psychiatrist and a whole new regime of meds that took a while since the depression persisted, but eventually what I took was 900mg Seroquel XR (yes that is nine hundred!) plus 200 mg of Lamotrigine or Lamictal and 20 of Cipralex. Yes I could function and drive and everything else but I was very "flat". So I have taken myself everything but a little bit of Seroquel, but after reading all the comments, I am realizing that I am headed for disaster once again. I can already feel it.

I wanted to be drug free because I just started a new job and I have to work night shifts too. Is there any way I can stay on my meds and stay awake for a 12 hour night shift?

By anon278526 — On Jul 07, 2012

I'm not sure how long ago most of these comments were made, but I really felt the need to share my story. I was on (and off) anti-depressants for 15 years with numerous diagnoses. I was labeled as being depressed to severely depressed to borderline personality disorder to anxiety disorders. I was hospitalized numerous times, sometimes for cutting, which they labeled as suicide attempts, which they were not, and sometimes for rapid medication changes. My bipolar 2 diagnosis only happened about 1.5 years ago.

I have been on just about every anti-depressant out there. I'm now on Lamotrigine twice a day, Divalproex twice a day, Synthroid once a day and Concerta once a day. I've been diagnosed with ADHD as well (that would've been real helpful to know that years ago). For those of you stating that you take your synthroid at night, check with your pharmacist. Synthroid ups the function of your thyroid, therefore giving you extra energy. If you're taking it at night, it can cause sleep issues. I'm going through a depression episode now. I'm a rapid cycler, but so rapid that my swings can happen daily and sometimes hourly. The doctors can't seem to get a combo of meds that really help me and I'm just looking for stabilization. I trust the shrink I have now so hopefully I'll stabilize in due time. Thanks for listening to me.

By amypollick — On Feb 21, 2012

@anon249615: I'm so glad you are seeking treatment for your bipolar diagnosis. My sister works in mental health and has told me that sometimes, it can take a little while to find the exact combination of medications that works best for each individual. We are all different, so different medications have varying degrees of effectiveness.

The important thing is that you are seeking treatment, taking your meds and getting healthy. That's huge and such a gift to yourself! Good luck!

By anon249615 — On Feb 21, 2012

Quite interesting. However, I must point out that those of us with type 2 Bipolar can also suffer from uncontrollable urges to do or say things which are not in our best interests. I have suffered with bipolar for most of my adult life and was only diagnosed in June 2011.

I am taking Citalopram (40mg) and Lithium (1200mg). While the Lithium has helped to reduce the regularity and severity of the manic episodes, I am still suffering from regular depressive episodes lasting up to three weeks. Although these periods of depression are not as deep and long lasting as before, they are still fairly regular, about every three or four months.

I understand that I have only just started my journey to stability and after reading up on Citalopram it appears that it doesn't work as well for some people as it does others. So maybe a change in my anti-depressant is required.

I would recommend everyone who needs it to seek help and treatment. Just the fact that I was able to put a name to my problems was a blessing and lifted a weight from my shoulders.

We all need to shake off the stigma that surrounds mental health and look after ourselves and our loved ones.

By anniewho80 — On Jan 29, 2012

I was diagnosed with Bipolar2 back in 2004 (I was 24). My "manic" phases are severe anxiety which would last for a few weeks. I would then find myself very depressed for days after that. Shortly after being diagnosed, I was put on Lamictal (an anticonvulsant) and Zoloft (an antidepressant). This combination has been extremely beneficial and my quality of life has increased! Of course, everyone is different. If you feel like you have Bipolar2, go right away to a doctor and see what your options are.

By ElizabethF — On Aug 15, 2011

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Two and was on meds for 15 years. My life was on hold. The meds didn't work well. I also recently found out I am gluten intolerant. I have two small children now and am doing great and living a normal life.

If you do a search on bipolar two gluten intolerance, you will find a lot of other people with the same story.

By anon204672 — On Aug 09, 2011

Man. I have just lost about everything I love and hold dearly to me. Depakote does not work. I yell at my kids my little boy who is only two who loves me to death and go off without no reason. I am really a nice person and very loving. I cannot show who I really am with this disease. I miss my wife and kids. They are gone now. I am alone. Stupid, messed up childhood. Ugh!

By sjo — On Jul 31, 2011

I apologize if any of this is a repeat of previous posts, however I only have time to read the first few but wanted to comment.

I wanted to provide some ideas for people who are struggling. I can't guarantee any of them will help you, but they provide you with options and things you can look into.

Some potential treatment ideas you can look into

1) Dark therapy: Holds a lot of promise for bipolar II who rapidly cycle, and in some early case studies has really limited cycling significantly. It involves being in darkness for periods of time (i.e. making your night longer) or using virtual darkness with certain blue blocker lenses (e.g. SCT Skyper Safety Glasses from UVEX).

2) Light therapy: Has not only proven effective for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but other types of depression as well (e.g. bipolar, major depression).

3) Wake therapy: This involves deprivation of sleep (e.g. Staying up all night or part of the night) that is done in a very scheduled manner in order to lift people out of depression (medications, light therapy, sleep phase advance help maintain this mood improvement for a period).

4) Sleep phase advance: Involves moving the bedtime later and later typically by one or two hours at a time and is often used after a sleep deprivation to maintain mood (e.g stay up all night, then go to bed at 7 p.m. the next night, then 8 p.m. the next night...and so on until you reach the prescribed bed time).

5) Keeping very strict bedtimes and wake times. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every morning.

The above five fall under chronotherapeutics and there is a clinic in Chicago that actually uses these. There are also books that detail the specifics of these techniques for those who are interested.

Some more things to look into:

1) Omega 3's: Have shown some promise as mild stabilizers but need to be taken over the longer term. They are not sure whether it is the EPA or DHA that may be beneficial.

2) Exercise: I have a background in exercise science, so I can attest to the numerous benefits aside from mental health, however there is a lot of evidence of its effect as an antidepressant.

3) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or other therapies : These cannot eliminate mood swings, but can make you a little more rational when they occur and can sometimes be helpful for anxiety.

4) Medications: I am writing this to provide some lesser known potential options, since most already know about medications.

4) Supplements: Not my first choice as there is limited evidence for their effectiveness (mostly anecdotal) and they are not well regulated, but some people still would like to give them a try (try to treat them as a drug and involve your doctor if you can). A few examples of potentially helpful ones include: l-theanine, taurine, melatonin, l-tryptophan etc., etc., etc.

I hope this was helpful! I believe I am an undiagnosed bipolar II, and have done a lot of my own research. I have a degree in human health (physiology, nutrition, exercise etc.) so it has really helped in my research and understanding.

I know the how painful the struggle can be (especially the lack of understanding), so I feel for all who struggle (from any condition). It is my dream to set up a national support company for people who struggle with anxiety, depression and bipolar. It would include things such as walk groups, exercise programs, dieticians, support coaches (just to encourage you on the bad days, who understand) etc. Anyway, if you are looking for more information please get back to me.

By anon189443 — On Jun 23, 2011

At the age of 47 with many years of seeing consultants and doctors, antidepressants and spells in the hospital due to failed suicide attempts, I was once again sent to see yet another specialist. This consultant said I have a personality disorder! (considering I have suffered all my adult life and this has never been picked up before, I thought he was wrong).

Unsatisfied with this, I again went back to my g.p., who disagreed with what he said and spoke to him regarding my medication. He agreed that I could trial one of the bipolar meds. Since being on this medication, I have felt so much better, although not ready to stop all the antidepressants and still cannot sleep without prescription meds. I am hoping to work towards this in the near future.

Persistence pays off, so don't give up hope is all I can say to those of you who feel the wall is never going to come down.

I know I need a lot of therapy and am probably not on the right dose of meds but at the moment after two months of not having the black cloud permanently hanging over me, I feel good. I am seeing the consultant in 10 days' time. Let's see just what he says about me this time.

By anon181355 — On May 29, 2011

I am 56 years old and from a very dysfunctional background. Had to diagnose myself as BPII and volunteer for a drug study to get a “proper” diagnosis from a psychiatrist to confirm what I knew. Then I had authority on my side when I went looking for help after the trial. While I was relieved to have a diagnosis after a lifetime of not so good moments, for some people the diagnosis is a bit confronting. This is fair enough, as it is a big unknown. For what they're worth, here are some suggestions.

First, so long as you can afford it, stick with the long, messy business of finding the right drugs for you. Each successive bout of depression I've had has been worse than the one before. Knowing that the next time will be worse, you should do everything possible to avoid falling into the big black pit again.

The drug trial I signed on for was for Seroquel and at first, it was a relief to be a vegetable. In the long run, although seroquel helped smooth out the (then) most recent depression, it left me feeling like I was trying to wade through wet concrete.

Second, you are not your disease. I have done some mighty stupid, shameful and humiliating things in the past 50 years. These are the result of a combination of dysfunctional background and chemical imbalance. What you must accept responsibility for is what you do from this day onwards. If you are religious (sorry, I'm not) take heart from the idea that God knows we are not perfect and what he wants from us is to try. Not trying is uncool. Not succeeding after a genuine effort is cool.

Who you are is the sum of your values. Start from scratch if you have to and decide what is right or wrong all over again. You can do this in any number of ways: follow the news and ask yourself what you agree or don't agree with. Revisit the rules of your religion and ask yourself what you agree or don't agree with -- and why.

Once you know what is right or wrong, work out where the line is. It doesn't matter if some people don't like me, because I don't like everyone I meet. This is not a crime, it's normal, and if people don't like you that's their problem so long as you stick by your values.

You are not your disease part two is this: If you become angry with someone, it might be justified. Do not let anyone get away with breaching your values by blaming BPII or dismissing who you are. If you become angry all you have to do is ask yourself was your anger a reasonable amount or just right? Do you need to manage your anger a little better? Maybe you need to learn to chill, maybe you need to be more assertive. Only your values can tell you where the line is, and you may have to decide where the line is as each situation arises.

By anon180957 — On May 27, 2011

For about eight years or so, I have had episodes of depression. Last year became very psychotic for about three months and on and off for the last years and half, decreasing in severity and length. During the harder times, I suffered from all sorts of delusions; at one point, i thought i was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

And so now, every time i start collecting coincidences to my racing heart beat, I just say "disorder" to remind that everything entering my brain is not connected. It's like I have to fight off delusion day to day.

Anyway, i just got off a placebo as part of a study and therapy is helping this psychotic decline and aggressiveness is going down, etc. The psychiatrist, 15 months after this huge break I'm still recovering from, wants to put me on abilify. I still feel like I have strength and hope that toward the end of my life, i can cope and reconcile this to some enlightenment happiness of really profound and pure.

Do you recommend that I take abilify? Is this dream and battle worth the ideal? Should I be convinced of the promise to take meds? Is it necessary to meet everyone else's adventure? I see benefits and trade off to not doing it, as well as doing it. i don't want to abandon my will, but i may need help.

By anon178194 — On May 20, 2011

So many stories like my own on here. I was treated for depression starting about 10 years ago. I have tried many of the anti-depressants out there and the same for me; they worked for a while, and then I crashed. Some would make me almost manic, and some caused me to sleep more than I usually do (which is hard considering I have hypersomnia to begin with).

I had my breakthrough in 2007. My mom had started seeing a great mental health professional who actually listened to her and had diagnosed her with Bipolar II. I was going through an incredibly tough time and even though he was not accepting new patients, he agreed to see me. He told me that Bipolar can be genetic and put me through all of the tests.

When all was said and done, he told me he was amazed that I could function on a daily basis. My final diagnosis: severely depressed Bipolar II and ADHD with sleep apnea.

Treatment has been ongoing since then. My current cocktail: morning - Lamictal 100, Provigil 200 (400?), Vyvanse 100, evening - Trileptal 300 + cholesterol and blood pressure meds and birth control. We tried bumping the Lamictal to 200, but I started having panic attacks which I never had before. I was on Abilify until about two weeks ago, but we were having to adjust the dose so much that my MHP decided to try the Trileptal instead. My mood has been stable for a while, but even with using a sleep machine, I am still hypersomnic despite being on two stimulants. Controlling my sleep is the hardest part for me. No matter when I go to bed, wake up, how many hours I get, or if I use the sleep machine, I always seem to be tired.

I do not have insomnia - thank goodness. Not to mention the complete lack of motivation this causes. I cannot get anything accomplished, which does not help my depression at all. All my napping and not wanting to do anything is starting to rub off on my husband; I have noticed recently that he is zoning out on a video game instead of doing the things that he used to enjoy.

I found this forum because I am looking for ways to help self treat the problems. Scheduling everything, journaling, diet and exercise are the things that I am finding. I have also found several supplements that I would like to try. My doctor has been telling me for years to take fish oil.

I want to try to get this under some semblance of control on my own. I am planning on trying to get pregnant later this year, and I will go off of all of my meds for at least the first trimester. I would like to nurse, so I am going to try to stay off of them for a while. We will see how it goes. Plus, I would like to be able to cut down on some of the medications I am taking, regardless. I have been trying to lose weight, and it is even more difficult being on all of this stuff. I am only 31 and I do not want to be dependent on heart medication for the rest of my life.

If I could find a method to control the sleep problems, I could go off of the Provigil and probably lower the dose of the Vyvanse. That would at least be a start.

Thank you to everyone else who posted here. I recently had a bad day and considered checking myself into a hospital. It is comforting to know there are others who deal with these issues and can still live normal lives.

By anon177206 — On May 17, 2011

I have recently been diagnosed with bipolar 2. I have suffered from depression for decades and been on several different antidepressants never really feeling totally well (I am in my 50s and depression started in my 20s).

After a recent very painful relationship break-up I went into a huge black hole. I took time off work, returned and nothing seemed to have changed.

I take 30 mg cipralex, 150 mg wellbutrin and just switched from 50 seroquel to 100 seroquel SR with the cipralex and wellbutrin.

I have read the many posts here and people describe exactly what I have been going through. I rarely have a day without tears and I have been off work again. I love my job, I can barely afford to not be working which doesn't help my mood. I have very little family support as they do not understand what I am going through and I only feel like a burden trying to explain my need to at least be checked on if I am not answering my phone to see if I am all right (I live alone). I feel for all they know, I could be dead.

I've just been on seroquel SR for a week or so. When do you feel better? I sleep away my days, no energy or motivation to do anything at all. I don't even shower or get dressed from my nightgown. I hate this!

By anon177015 — On May 17, 2011

Just wanted to say to everyone out there, or whoever takes their own time to read this.

I'm 20 years old going on 21 soon. I've had three suicide attempts and was previously diagnosed as a severe recurrent depressive with anxiety.

Now some time on from this, I am having an ongoing diagnosis of emerging Bipolar disorder with borderline personality disorder. In my 'hypermanic' phases, I've racked up a debt from the age of 18 of £7000 via credit cards and over drafts, etc. Obviously at the time, the experience i was getting from this felt absolutely amazing and I had not a care in the world. Then the depression comes around and destroys everything in its path.

I was studying for a degree in fashion but now am having to take a 'tactical withdrawal' from it as my mental health is in a bad situation again.

Saying this, there is a light side: it makes you realize how strong you are and can be. I'm not using the illness as an excuse but if we can deal with ourselves and the outside (others seem to have their own issues, but at least the majority aren't as severe) there is a hope.

It's not how you fall; it's how you get back up.

Bipolar is not the end. It's a creative beginning.

By lindsey23 — On May 11, 2011

Any comments about light boxes would be appreciated. I was advised to get one but wondered if anyone has any feedback.

By anon174949 — On May 11, 2011

I have Bipolar II disorder. I was diagnosed a few years ago when I was 22. I am pretty lucky, really, as I have a great network of friends and professionals around me.

I currently work, but it’s hard. In a lot of ways I don’t really understand myself or know when the illness will rear its ugly head again, so it’s hard to gain people’s understanding because no case of BiPolar II is textbook. I have had so many jobs where my illness has got in my way and people just don’t understand why one week I am super efficient and a model employee the next I’m late because I can't get up and have no motivation and end up having time off to get my head together and sometimes the depression lasts for months at a time. When I have too much work I get stressed and when I’m stressed my head races and I can’t concentrate.

Having Bipolar II itself gets me down as it gets in the way of living my life. I’d like to progress in a career and earn good money, just like all my friends seem to be doing, but with increased responsibility comes increased stress. So I guess I’ve given up on my dreams and ambitions for now. Which is very frustrating as I was high achiever in education and always told I was capable of going very far.

I have recently reduced my hours after my first hospitalization last year and to be fair, the working tax credits you can claim really help as it means I can still afford to pay bills, etc., but not get too stressed. I would recommend people looking into the benefits available to them, lots of which are not income based and also the working tax credits, since financial stability is always a major worry in anyone’s life, so it's worth considering.

I am lucky to have a job but its not been easy because I’ve had trouble getting jobs in the past due to time off and absences ruining my references, and people labeling me as unreliable because of lateness.

I would also recommend volunteer work to people. After my first serious depressive episode when I was aged 17, I started volunteering at a local hospice. It gave me a reason to live and get out of bed to help people less fortunate than us. It was flexible around how I was feeling and not too stressful. It helped me get back into a routine of some sort and it also opened up doors in employment because I gained some experience.

I think this forum is really helpful. Too many posts to read in one go, but just so, so reassuring to know I’m not the only one going through this. When I was first diagnosed I searched the web and all I found was information on Bipolar I, which did not always help.

I currently take quetiapine, which works well for me, and when the depression kicks in, I take citalopram, but only when I absolutely need it. I have recently been advised to look into getting one of these light boxes that apparently lifts your mood. If anyone has any experience in these, or comments, I would really appreciate it. Take care and God bless.

By anon173055 — On May 05, 2011

I am 30 years old and was diagnosed with depression (with anxiety) at the age of 14. I was put on Paxil when it first came out. Over the past 16 years, I have taken every single anti depressant you can take except Celexa. Cymbalta was the worst. I never thought I had bipolar, because I've never been happy! In the least. I do not get manias. I tend to get very irritable or severely depressed, then it passes, then it comes back. This can happen from minutes to hours to days to years.

At 28, something happened and triggered my severe depression. Over the past two and a half years, I may have had one or two decent weeks. I shop like mad. I feel this compulsion because it makes me feel good for a split second. I have no job (but do have a college degree) and I live with my mom. Life is just so grand.

Without a job, after finding out I had decent credit, I opened three credit cards. I maxed out two within a week or two. The other my mom took. I feel disgusted, hopeless, scared, guilty (there is anger buried deeper down) and very irritable and agitated at times. To an extreme. I go to the doctor in two weeks. I know what my diagnosis will be. In a way, I'm relieved and in a way, it's just freakin' depressing because it doesn't go away. Thankfully it can be treated. But I don't want to get fat.

I have not started on any mood stabilizers but I think the one that starts with an L would seem to help me, because I'm much more on the depressed spectrum. I am also a cutter and have contemplated suicide many times. It is scary not to be able to control your own mind. And it's such a shame.

I hope we all get better. I believe with time and a little therapy and the correct medicine for your own chemistry, we can be totally normal. Unlike Borderlines, etc, who tend to not get better or get better very slowly. Anyway, this has all been a big surprise to me. I have been looking for a job for two years. I find mistakes on my resume, and I realize why I didn't get called back. My life is hell. Pure hell. I am absolutely terrified of the future. I pray God give us the strength to endure this hideous disease and that more attention is brought to it. God bless you all. Find the right meds, and live your life fully! --Your partner in bipolar

By makeitwork — On Apr 29, 2011

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 today, and I am afraid of what lies ahead. I went into a psychiatric urgent care clinic today to deal with the depression I've been feeling for the last three weeks. I decided to go in after yet another mostly sleepless night last night. I felt like I could not handle another day of feeling this way.

At the clinic, I first spoke with a social worker who didn't realize how bad off I was until the last 15 minutes of our hour-long session, when I finally told him that I have never really had periods of happiness in my life, and that I only consider myself depressed when the suicidal or self-harming thoughts occur very frequently. He was taken aback, as he assumed by how I present myself that I have everything under control, and he thought I was only going through a rough patch. He had previously stated that he didn't think medication would be the best answer for me, but after I told him what I considered to be depression, he decided to speak with the psychiatrist.

A little while later, I also met with the psychiatrist. I went into his office thinking that he was going to give me a prescription for whatever anti-depressant is most popular nowadays, but instead he presented a series of questions that I've never been asked before. And, thankfully, he asked the right questions. Why have no psychiatrists or therapists done this before?

Even when I admitted myself to the psychiatric ward at the hospital five years ago, they didn't ask the right questions. Or maybe it’s me – I might not know how to communicate what exactly I’m going through and have gone through in the correct manner.

Anyhow, at least this is happening now at the age of 30, instead of years and years from now. I do feel thankful for the help that I've gotten for my depression over the last 15+ years of my life, however all of the knowledge and self-care did not make me feel right, or good about myself, or make me feel that life was worth living.

I’m feeling a little bit better tonight. I feel hopeful that there might be a chance I might make something out of my life, instead of a bunch of jumbled up, depression-laden, messed up experiences that constitute the majority of my life thus far.

Everything in my life is disgusting, including the dead-end, rat infested job I've held due to extremely low self-esteem over the last eight years, and the technical school I’m attending because I didn't think I was good enough for a traditional education (which I desperately want, but due to depression issues never made it through). Changes need to happen so that I don’t have to live in this hell anymore. I cannot do this anymore.

By anon170508 — On Apr 26, 2011

Having issues with SSRIs can actually be a red flag for bipolar disorders- I personally had some horrible experiences.

Wellbutrin made me have my first serious manic episode-- four months- it was awful. Dysphoric mania is mixed angry state-- depressed, agitated, angry, etc., etc. This is the greater marker that differentiates BiPolar I and II.

By anon168586 — On Apr 18, 2011

This is very helpful. There are many people with Bipolar disorder who often do not even know they have it. I found a great Bipolar Test if anyone would like to take it.

By anon168490 — On Apr 17, 2011

I was recently diagnosed with BP2. I have been treated for anxiety and depression for the last 10 years, the last eight of which have been with the same doctor. To say BP2 is hard to diagnose is an understatement. The biggest problem being most people don't ever bother to mention their periods of hypomania. They just feel like some days their antidepressants work and some days they don't. I have been on Wellbutrin for about eight years. We have varied the dose based on the “sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't” theory, but a couple of years ago, I just asked my doctor why it seems like sometimes it works, and I feel great, can't sit still, my house is clean, I run, run, run and don't need to sleep and then sometimes it doesn't and I am calling in sick, can't get out of bed, don't shower for days. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. The higher my up days, the lower my down days.

That was when she figured it out. She asked me how often I'm having my up periods. Then she wanted details. I told her I would be at Walmart at 3 a.m., spending money I didn't have on things we didn't need or even want. I couldn't sleep but I wasn't tired either. Then I crash. At first, I thought it was just guilt for the way I behaved on my high but I didn't always have a reason to feel guilty. Sometimes I just ran 100 mph and cleaned my house top to bottom in the middle of the night. My husband started pointing out that when I'm on my highs I am very short tempered. It's like I expect everyone to function in the same elevated state I'm in, and when they don't, I yell for no reason.

My doctor added Lamictal to my Wellbutrin along with a small dose of Prozac. At the time she said we were treating mood swings. After a couple of months, we noticed I wasn't on the rollercoaster anymore. Things were great for about a year. Then I unexpectedly got pregnant. Lamictal can cause cleft palate if taken during pregnancy. Elevated doses of folic acid are supposed to offset that but, my doctor said she felt the pregnancy hormones would help level me out and it just wasn't worth the risk. So I stopped taking the Lamictal and the Prozac. The pregnancy hormones did help, and I was okay. Some mood swings but, pregnancy brings those anyway. I stayed off the meds after giving birth so that I could nurse my daughter. She is almost a year old and now that she is eating food and since I'm not nursing as much, the hormones dropped, I guess, because the roller coaster is back.

This time when I told her the roller coaster was back, she actually diagnosed me as BP2. We decided to tough it out for a couple more months, allowing me time to completely wean my daughter (she will be a year). Then we will add the Lamictal. Right now, after reading some of these posts. I'm just praying it works as well as it did before. It is very encouraging to see so many of you are on Lamictal with an anti-depressant.

All in all, assuming that the Lamictal works as well this time around, I would take the break for another pregnancy. And even my husband thinks it would be okay. For those of you wondering if you can have BP2 and still have children. It can be done. A little patience from your family and increased monitoring from your doctor, (I saw my MHP every month during my pregnancy) and you will be fine.

By anon158543 — On Mar 07, 2011

Thank you all! I'm on Valproic Acid instead of Lithium, as I was concerned it would numb the charismatic qualities that I value about my BP2. Has anyone any thoughts on the difference in treatments? Are there FaceBook type forums like this to offer support? I couldn't find any BP2 support meetings in my major Canadian city.

By anon146578 — On Jan 26, 2011

I have always suffered from inexplicable mood swings since about age 15. I was overly concerned with mortality and issues a kid should never have to worry about, like the end of the universe. I was a straight kid who stayed away from drugs so I knew it had to be something else. At the time, I just thought I was different and dealt with it. When my friends distanced themselves from me, I always put it down to them.

I became a police officer later on and witnessed and experienced some terrible things, and eventually this led to a major depressive episode and PTSD. I was treated with Mirtazapine (SSRI) which was good for a while but ultimately made things worse. I felt like I was walking around in a daze, with no energy, was getting fat and it felt like I was looking through milky eyes. I would sleep half the day, which made the depression worse because I felt worthless. But finally, I managed to climb over this, got off the SSRI after three years of barely leaving the house or finding anything positive in life and with the support of a wonderful wife, I sought a new job in a career miles from what I used to do.

Career-wise, it's going great. But then I noticed, and others noticed, that my moods were swinging terribly and I was starting to destroy myself again. I would go from euphoric highs where my mood would be lofty and I would be the best friend in the world to anyone, then come crashing down and be horribly unpleasant and lose friends. Just like when I was a kid, only much much worse now.

The lows were getting as bad as my previous depression; they just weren't lasting as long. Sometimes my mood would completely change within about 3 or 4 hours. I talked with my wife about some of the things that I do that are odd. It was like ticking a checklist. Spending sprees. Obsessing over something I had instantly become passionate about and staying up until four in the morning reading on the internet about it. Then going to work. Feeling invincible, righteous and grandiose. Seeing special connections in ordinary, everyday events. Hyperactive sex drive which ashamedly had caused much distress earlier in our relationship.

Finally, I had enough and went back to the doctor and am now being treated for BP2 on an anti-convulsant (Epilim). In a short time I have noticed much stability in my mood. I was worried that I wouldn't feel emotions, but I still do. In fact, my mood still varies, but it's like the peaks and troughs are cut off. I feel much better reading everyone's experiences and seeing that I am not alone. It's good to get the help I need to live like the good person I know I am, and not that one that comes around when I'm off the planet.

By anon145644 — On Jan 24, 2011

Today is the first day I ever considered the idea of any diagnosis past Major Depression I. I was diagnosed that six years ago. But I realized yesterday as I yelled at my dogs for no reason at all, and also how they don't even want to be around me, that there has to be more. I didn't even know about BP2.

I've been on a downward spiral since I walked out of my job 4/2008. I have no confidence, I live at my mom's, I'm 35 and have no desire to live anymore. I just feel I can't do it. I've had to pay this car payment for a week, and I can't even get it in the envelope.

I went into hysterics in November and decided I should go to the doctor. Since i have no job and no money, I can't go back so I had to quit taking the Zoloft he prescribed. I seemed to be OK on it, yet sweating for four hours every morning is too much to take. Now I've been off for 12 days and I'm falling apart. I have no money and I feel I can't even get help. I barely leave the house and sometimes have wine at 9:30 a.m. just so I can stop crying.

I never considered BP because I never really have a high, ever. I don't even know when I began to fall apart. Was it when my very best friend died 11 years ago? Was it when my dad abandoned us with zero money? Was it Dad told us he was an alien? Was it when I was molested? I've always been fairly intelligent and productive and able to take care of myself. Except my massive spending sprees which led to extreme credit card debt which led to giving up. Oh and then trying to make a relationship with a meth addict.

I don't know where to turn anymore. I'm suicidal, yet I have been my whole life, and my extreme love for my Mom has always prevented that. Along with my own grieving for my friend, I cannot allow my mother to feel that pain. So instead I sit in her house and do nothing.

I know I need help. I've done therapy and effexor in the past, which when I quit my job, I could no longer get the effexor which led to three or four months of severe sickness. I've never been able to pick myself up since. I just want to be normal. Now I feel like I'm already dead. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

By anon143107 — On Jan 15, 2011

I'm 28 and i have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder with a possibility of post traumatic stress disorder.

Things are starting to look up for me since i started taking cipralex and divalproex. i was diagnosed as bipolar when i was around 16 and had things under control until a few years ago, when i started dating my first boyfriend. I was with him for five torturous years, and only stayed because of threats towards my family. it's been 2.5 years since he left.

He had screwed me up so badly that i spent most of the past couple of years not being able to leave my house and not doing anything but staring off into space. i am over all of that now or at least as over it as I'll ever be.

the guilt over all the pain i caused my family though is debilitating at times. they have all been so supportive and i know they don't blame me, but the thing is that i blame me and can't seem to get past it. like i said though things are getting better since i discovered yoga and a passion for music and writing.

I'm not sure why i am putting all this on here, maybe just to get it off my chest. it helps me to know that i am not alone in this.

By anon121378 — On Oct 24, 2010

Get the info right from the source. Check out the actual Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

By anon121178 — On Oct 23, 2010

hi all,

I've tried multiple anti depressants, but most of them just make me feel so like agitated and kind of weird in my head i couldn't deal with it.

now, i am on nothing and suffering extremely. the words doom dread and terror are what i would describe it accurately. I'm wondering if i could have bp2. I've been seeing a psychologist for six months now and still no progress. i have the occasional day where i feel almost great, but not outrageous if that makes sense.

i am aware of it. it'll be usually one day out of 12 or something, which to me isn't a proportion that i particularly can deal with. if anybody has any ideas, I'd be grateful. I'm wishing it was bp2 so then i could get the correct medication to help me and the therapy would maybe be more beneficial to me then.

By anon104753 — On Aug 18, 2010

Just found this site as my doc gave me the homework of researching BPII. I think we've finally figured out what is "wrong" with me. I just want to thank you all for sharing. It's a relief to know I'm not the only one freaking out inside.

By anon100845 — On Jul 31, 2010

I have Bipolar 2 and I am 27 and was diagnosed at age 24 (after having my second child. We have three now). I have had a terrible time with depression and exhaustion. Anxiety has been a more recent problem.

For me SSRIs were very bad. (Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa). They always worked at first, but then stopped working and even made the depression and the cycling much worse.

I have really like Wellbutrin. I have gone on and off of it several times (between pregnancies and nursing, etc - FYI it dries up breast milk). I wish I had not come off of it the second time because this time it doesn't seem to be cutting it as well. It's only been a month, do I'm giving it time. Things got a lot worse for me after having our third baby. I was cycling several times in an hour, just torture.

But, I have found a lot of relief from a product called EMPowerPlus by a company called True Hope. I would say after my second baby it took care of about 90 percent-plus of my symptoms. I was even a bit hypomanic right at first, but it definitely stabilized me out and made me feel good. I stopped taking it when I became preg with baby no. 3 (such a hippie). And then when I started it again after having my baby it didn't quite work as well. I would say it took care of about 80 percent of the symptoms. not bad for some vitamins and minerals!

So, here is my suggestion for those of you out there looking for a more natural cure (be it due to pregnancy or maybe you haven't found medications that are working for you).

Take EMPowerPlus; 10,000 IU/day of Vitamin D (a life saver!); Fish oil (high quality: Nordic Naturals); and for the women out there: try some natural progesterone supplements. (oils or creams -- not hormone replacement therapy),

I absolutely love a product by Young Living essential oils called "Progessence Plus". I encourage you to look up the benefits of adding some natural progesterone to your routine. I lost two pounds off my stomach after a couple days of use and my libido went up after a couple of weeks. The company Neways also has a progesterone cream I have heard good things about (but haven't tried).

I think if you tried balancing hormones and taking the proper nutrients you would find a relief of symptoms. Did you know that research supports that connection between bipolar disorder and thyroid function?

Also, exercise and sunlight help of course, but won't really cure anything. Maybe just temporarily help with some of the milder symptoms.

Of course, some people will find that they need more than natural alternatives. And some will find a mixture of natural things and medications does the trick for them.

Good luck to you all. I know, first hand, how horrible this disease can be. I have had some very bad days.

Just a note: my five year old was suffering from severe anxiety attacks and has been a different kid since taking EMPowerPlus. She takes five capsules twice a day and is a happy and carefree child now. Miraculous!

"It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that micronutrients can affect psychiatric symptoms given that they are essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters; it is possible that some individuals with mental illness either have deficiencies in nutrients or may need more for optimal brain functioning." Dr. Julia Rucklidge, PhD,University of Canterbury

By anon100332 — On Jul 29, 2010

Had the misery of BP2 symptoms for 13 years. I was prescribed low dose lithium three years ago. My life is 1000 percent better. Nevertheless, those murky moods are still waiting under the surface. I will always take these pills. No question and no problem! It can get much, much better!

By anon99290 — On Jul 26, 2010

I noticed some people posting about how they feel exhausted and worn out by the search for a proper treatment and/or diagnosis. Treating BPII can easily be a marathon, not a sprint, so it's completely understandable you might feel that way.

Some with BPII will respond quickly to mood stabilizers like lithium and find relief right away, and others will find a combination of medication and lifestyle change will help them manage the condition, but many will find it takes a long time to find any reliable management of BPII.

My wife has gone through what feels like dozens of medications (but can't really be that many), and has now been admitted to a hospital for the first time so we can try another in a more managed and observable environment. It has been a process of up to a decade from treatment of depression through to diagnosis and treatment of BPII, still not resolved at present, and she probably has suffered for decades in reality, just not as severely as she has over the last few years.

I am not sure a stay in hospital will be the magic bullet either, but if it isn't we will try finding a bipolar specialist for the next step, and something else after that if necessary. I now understand her symptoms well, and can fully see how this has impacted our lives, and it is essential that we find a way to manage them, but I am under no illusion that there is a guaranteed solution just over the rainbow. It's just far too complicated a condition, and in my wife's case her reactions to the medication (ranging from adversely mental to physically allergic) make finding any solution exceedingly difficult.

My message, though, is don't give up. There is a solution, even if it's a huge pain in the butt, and soul-tearing just to make it through the days or years until you find it.

Be patient, be self-aware, be brutally honest with revealing yourself to your MHP: journal or log your progress, and give your nurse/doctor this information. Don't go with GPs. Seek out the most specific specialist you can, and if you find you can't open up or have a rapport with one MHP then switch to a new one.

Do not lose sight of the goal. BPII depression carries with it the risk of suicidal hopelessness, and it is important to remember such thoughts create a door that leads nowhere. Clearly nothing about life can be improved once it's gone.

Reach out to whoever you need to, but especially those qualified to help: your MHP, a crisis hotline, or 911, if you at all feel you might be giving up. Do reach out to family, friends, or your extended community, if you have them available and are comfortable with that, but don't assume they are the best to help you if you're feeling truly depressed.

Also, do not feel that someone else's solution should or will be your solution--you are you, and you will need your own solution, and it's not your fault if a given option doesn't work.

When you find a moment to think clearly, remember that BPII is chemical; it controls you and changes your emotions and experiences and by consequence your actions, and you need to forgive yourself for that and how it makes you feel and how you may make others feel while under it's influence.

Suffering from a mental illness does not diminish you as a person, in the same way that suffering from a broken leg, or breast cancer does not diminish you as a person. It's not your fault that you suffer from this illness, even if those near and dear to you feel it must be. If that's how they think, they just don't understand what it is, and perhaps never will. If you can, though, educate them by finding suitable information for them to read, or bringing them into joint counseling. If they can't or won't accept this, again remember that's not your fault, and it won't stop you finding your solution eventually.

Well that's my take, and I wish you all well and the best of success in treatment and life. Take care, accept help, and keep hope and love around you, and inside you, as much as you can.

By anon93455 — On Jul 04, 2010

My doctor has finally took notice that I may fall into the bi-polar spectrum. For now, she is considering cyclothymia. I haven't had depression in a very long time, luckily. But I used to have bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts often.

I was never "okay." I was always known as the person with problems and would often be hysterical on the phone or on the floor somewhere. Finally, a few years ago I sought treatment because of how sick I was and people were finally urging me to get help or I would of been hospitalized essentially.

I'm 22 now and have been seeing a psychiatrist for a couple of years and in/out of therapy.

I've been on Lexapro for a couple of years. 10mg at the moment. This is one of the few drugs I can tolerate. It really, really, has helped me. We have tried almost every SSRI. No luck and I can obviously see why; it is making things worse! Most of them agitate me or send me into a hypomanic mood. When I took Prozac, I thought I was going to jump out of a window and non-stop talking and moving. Zyprexa, just makes me tired and depressed. We have only tried a few mood stabilizers-- Lamictal, which I actually really liked, however, I think it started to "dull" me out, or so I thought at the time. But I'm thinking of going back to try that. I had no side effects from it.

Neurontin made me feel so terrible, I experienced more panic on that than I had in awhile.

As much as I have had luck with Lexapro, however, it doesn't do a lot for my moods or anxieties. I don't get depressed like I did, I may have bouts of sadness, but nothing extreme. However, lately, I have been having severe cases of panic and anxiety with racing thoughts. Some of the worst I've had in years-- to the point where I am lying in bed, hysterically crying, and completely debilitated. It varies from day to day. Does that happen to any of you?

If you're cycling into a hypomanic mood, do you become agitated with panic and racing thoughts?

This has been happening for over a week and my doctor is out of town; great timing! I'm hoping I can try a mood stabilizer again and have better luck and get a clearer understanding of what is going on, because it's definitely not just depression and anxiety. I wish you all the best of luck.

By anon91442 — On Jun 21, 2010

I was diagnosed with bp2 disorder about three months ago. After ten years of being in and out of the mental health clinic at least two to three times a year always either extremely depressed or going a hundred to nothing for days and weeks. Bad anxiety no sleeping or eating for days and after all these years my cycles began to go from lasting a few days at a time to weeks and even into months. As high up as I would go is also as hard as I would fall.

Once finally correctly diagnosed a few months ago at age 23, I have now been on lexapro and seroquel xr. I'm now up to 200mg of seroquel and 20mg of lexapro, however I still am having a lot of anxiety.

I was looking for advice on one if many other people still have high anxiety on these meds and what they have been prescribed with these other meds for treatment. Also, I seem to becoming immune to the seroquel very quickly. I started at 50 mgs just three months ago and already am taking 200 mgs to be able to sleep all night.

I want some input from women who have gone through pregnancy with bipolar2 and if you took your meds or if this disease is going to determine whether or not I will be able to healthy carry a baby.

This was horrible timing. We have one kid who's seven and just when we both decide we did want one more, I now have all of this to consider. I am not finding much info online about these meds and pregnancy.

By anon90129 — On Jun 14, 2010

i was told i had BPD two two months ago. and i don't know how to feel about it. it's good to know i'm not alone and that there is hope for me. but i am still in shock.

i am on lamictal and i am still getting in funks and crying every other week. and then having a week or two where i get maybe six hours of sleep the whole week. i just don't know who i am anymore. and now everybody treats me different which makes me want to withdraw even more. so, now what?

By anon86971 — On May 27, 2010

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 about five months ago. However for the past eight years, I had been diagnosed as just have Major Depressive Disorder. The anti-depressants did not work and my doctor did not listen.

Finally after being hospitalized, I found a doctor who did listen and diagnosed me properly. I am taking Seroquel, and Lexapro and I have been feeling better. I was so happy to finally have a name for the erratic behavior and mood swings. I finally feel hopeful for the future.

By anon86306 — On May 24, 2010

I was diagnosed BP2 six months ago although I suspected it for years. I've been on 200 mg Lamictal for 10 weeks but it isn't working.

I began training for a half marathon four months ago hoping the exercise would help my mood, but it has had only a minimal effect. My husband has been on Paxil for major depression for years and it works so well for him.

He is like a ray of sunshine. I am like a storm cloud. His success is how I measure whether my meds are working. No matter what med or therapy I've tried, I never had his kind of success. After 24 years of this cycling without relief, I am growing weary.

By anon81578 — On May 02, 2010

Well, for years i was told i had depression and anxiety and was given antidepressants. but the weird thing was i kept having symptoms of anxiety and depression. i got stressed out at my job and had to leave and haven't been back.

my doctor first sent me to this program through kaiser for two weeks. once i completed i thought i was feeling good, and one day, bam! It hit again.

My doctor than sent me to partial mental hospital where two weeks turned into six weeks. i had the best care and they monitored me all the time.

The doctor prescribed celexa. That's some good stuff. i was so happy smiling and just being crazy about life.

when he saw me on that monday he told me that he would take me off celexa for now and i needed a mood stabilizer -- lamictal -- because i am bipolar 2. I'm like, "Huh? i feel good. I'm not depressed anymore." He explained that just as good as I'm feeling now i will crash and it will be bad. so that morning they gave me lamictal. the following week i came in crying, hair not combed, had on a hoodie. i remember leaving group to go cry in the restroom.

The doctor was like OK, it took you down too much, so let's put a low dosage of celexa in there and now my depression is over. i still have bouts of anxiety every time i think about working again -- i freak out. -- js

By anon81189 — On Apr 30, 2010

I have had success with lamictal and abilify and prozac but had to discontinue the abilify due to side effects. I seem to have a lot of side effects to these medications.

I consider prozac a mild antidepressant (or perhaps they mean low doses?) I also find the name (bipolar II) somewhat confusing since as the explanation states (and my course confirms) it doesn't involve full mania. The general community and virtually all medical professionals only understand bipolar I and they don't understand that anxiety is my primary feature, not mania.

I tend to just tell people now that I have an anxiety disorder, just to be clear.

By anon81086 — On Apr 29, 2010

Four fish oil tablets a day, loads of exercise and meditation is the best way to deal with BPII.

By anon76392 — On Apr 10, 2010

i am self diagnosing myself as bipolar 2, and have the first appointment with a psych in three days. You all sound like me! I've been told at 21 i had an anxiety disorder and the cognitive therapy helped for years. then two years ago and after my second baby, i was on anti depressants until a month ago when i became suicidal on them. So I've been taken off and now just take the occasional xanax til the psych appointment.

i feel better without the meds but can notice the mood swings so much more like as though the meds were a smoke screen for my problems. is there anyone who has decided not to take meds for bipolar 2? and i would like to know if there are any parents among you?

i struggle every day to stay balanced (mood wise) for my children, and it seems as though i keep it together for a few days then crash into hypomanic, screaming and snapping? on down days i feel as though i will ruin them in my care and blame myself for all their bad behavior.

when I'm down i really wish there was someone who would take them from me until i was back on a high.

i succeed in turning my moods around a lot of the time, but sometimes i seem to indulge in the guilt and sadness and am completely unable to pull myself out.

my highs are great. I'm confident, mother of the year, life of the party, etc. and when younger i was quite sexually adventurous. sounds like bipolar 2 i think?

By anon75445 — On Apr 06, 2010

to post # 78: let us know how you feel after you get accustomed to 200 mg lamictal.

By anon75305 — On Apr 06, 2010

After years of up and down moods, I asked my dr for an antidepressant, celexa which worked well for 5 year - I called it my happy pill. 2 year from when I started on celexa I took a job which helped me become anxious, depressed, afraid, helpless and hopeless. When I was finally fired, depression cannot describe what I felt. It was like post traumatic syndrome, overwhelming fear, flashbacks, depression and horrendous anxiety at their finest. My dr and a therapist tried to help me but I wasn't in the frame of mind to really reach out and accept help and became tired talking about it. I stayed in therapy for a few months. Life went on, and I presented like a together, positive and happy person at work, home, everywhere. But by myself it was a different story. I cried almost every day, wanted to die, indulged in self-hate and felt my family would be better off without me. During these 3 year there were times of being OK but a lot of rollercoasting with feeling 'a little too good' and depression and anxiety. Prior to Christmas, I crashed big-time - someone from my old job contacted me. My dr sent me back to the therapist who diagnosed me with BPII and recently with GAD. I'm still on celexa and now Lamictal 100mg daily (which was given to me in graduated doses) I've been on 100mg now for 4 wk. 10 days ago I crashed which came as a shock - no outside stressor. Depression lasted about 1 wk and now it's pure anxiety such that I had to stay home from work today - most unusual for me. It's in the pit of my stomach, shakey, difficulty moving my chest in and out to breathe, palpatations, fear of impending death. I started at the gym a month ago - going 4 - 5 times a wk, walking daily. I started meditation a wk ago, and for the past 3 months I've been doing workbooks on cognitive therapy and also on anxiety. I'm doing things to help myself get better but trying to work in changes gradually.

My childhood wasn't particularly happy but I wasn't molested or anything and I have a great husband, grown-up kids doing well, good extended family... I love my job. But I'm having a lot of difficulty coping. I am weary of it all and wonder how much more depression and anxiety I can take. I wonder how much longer I can live the facade as a normal happy person when I'm dying inside. This is so not a good day.

By anon74071 — On Mar 30, 2010

To post #75. Please hang in there and fight. You are a strong person and will find the right balance of medication and therapy to get back your life, it won't be the same as before, but it will be good.

I have just been diagnosed bipolar2, I haven't even started any meds yet but I know that if I keep fighting I will have a life again. Because I deserve one, just like you. Please take care.

By anon73566 — On Mar 28, 2010

to post #75. if the pill you are trying is lamictal (lamotrigine) then you should feel better on it than off it. not a cure but it helps. also try exercise. that helps too. your life sounds like mine. best of luck.

By anon73005 — On Mar 25, 2010

I have recently been diagnosed with bipolar2 after being treated for 10 years for clinical depression and severe anxiety problems, mood swings and acute PTSD.

I cannot work and feel like my life is over but I promised my doctor that I would try this new pill prescribed for anxiety, depression and bipolar2. I hope it helps because right now I just wish I could disappear.

My family does not need a nutcase on their hands. I've put them through enough already. Please respond.

By anon71683 — On Mar 19, 2010

I'm currently diagnosed with severe depression and an anxiety disorder (and was diagnosed with anorexia in the past), but recently I saw something on the TV about bipolar disorder and it was like looking in a mirror. I just thought oh my god, that's me.

After that I looked for more info about the disorder, and I'm pretty certain I have bipolar 2. I have every single symptom, and reading this stuff is like reading about myself!

Sine I was about 10 I've always just thought I had really bad bouts of depression, but now I think about it I've always had the hypomanic too - it used to get me into a lot of trouble at school when I was younger!

I'm sort of relieved because the past six months I haven't been coping at all, and now I feel like I know what's wrong with me, at least! I need to talk to my psych about it, but I'm so nervous. Damned anxiety disorder, haha.

By anon70601 — On Mar 15, 2010

to anon70410: you have described me in your description of yourself. Dread is a perfect word. read entry 48. that is me.

perhaps i'd still have my teaching job if i'd been diagnosed earlier. as it is now i am an old man with few job prospects and no help from SSDI. to avoid getting arrested again i just stay home away from people and hope the neighbors lay off the unreasonable loud noises. best of luck to you and try lamictal.

By anon70410 — On Mar 14, 2010

I was diagnosed with Bipolar II last week. For years I felt that I was losing my mind. My anxiety was at a high all the time. I have lived with depression and feelings of dread constantly throughout my life. But in the last year it was a daily thing.

My family thought I was crazy as I would yell at them for no apparent reason. I would talk about ending my life and say that "breathing is a painful experience to endure".

Because I couldn't cope with the depression, dread, anxiety and having contact with other people, I began to isolate myself more and more. I found that way I could not insult, hurt and/or lash out at people.

My boss told me that I had to get my crap together. She told me to question if I was in the right job. My job revolves around people and that would make me more anxious.

I would not look at staff when I walked in, in the mornings. I could look at their eyes or acknowledge them and this would then build up into more of the anxiety, depression and dread, and the whole cycle would begin again. It got so bad that I had to take sick days off. These led to taking sick week (five days) every third week. Paranoia set in and then I began having involuntary bulimia.

Since finding out that I have Bipolar2 with OCD, it has helped me to search for information and read about other peoples experiences just like me. It has helped my family understand me better as well.

I really am surprised that it has never been diagnosed before. All the symptoms were there. And if I had known this earlier I could have had a less stressful life without feeling so completely isolated and disconnected to everyone.

By anon65817 — On Feb 16, 2010

I was young when I was told I had bp2. Before they figured out what I had they did the whole shotgun theory of just shooting every pill they could write down at me: xanax 4 bars a day, lexapro 60mg, seroquel, klonopin, zyprexa, doxepin and others. I can't remember them all. I was thinking about suicide all the time and had to be placed in the hospital.

Not two weeks after being released and told that i had bp2I took the whole bottle of my zyprexa and went to my stepmother's family Christmas party (I had to be part of the family she said no matter how much I didn't want to go ). I walked around, not talking to anyone for a while till I felt them kicking in, so i made my way to the basement where I could be alone and sat/waited.

I had a grand mal seizure and smashed my head open on the concrete. I woke up at the hospital two days later with most my muscles torn and some staples in my head. I felt horrible and now I had to live with my whole family thinking I'm crazy.

I moved back in with my mom across the country and stopped all my meds and started smoking pot. I know it sounds like a joke to most people but it leveled me out and calmed me down. I got my appetite back. It felt like I was getting my life back. After a while I noticed I haven't thought about suicide in a long time and that i liked the place i was at and who I was and how my life was worth living.

I just had my 21st birthday and have been off my meds for a while now and recently quit smoking pot. I live with my anxiety every day. I still get depressed pretty bad but everybody does, even if theirs is nothing close to mine or as frequent, I deserve to live life and smile.

I have had the same girlfriend for the past four years and she reminds me every day how lucky I am to be here just by waking up to her face every morning.

I see a lot of posts from people looking for info on their loved ones' bp2 disorder. I am no way a doc, but I could shed some light on bp2. Remember, crazy people don't know they're crazy.

By frankyf208 — On Feb 12, 2010

Franky 208 from New Zealand again. Hello all you other peeps with the same "Wart on our Brains"..

Who cares if we ain't "normal"? Because it don't bother me.

So what? Do we stand out from the crowd? Are we the life of the party? (I'm still a party animal at 43 years young). Do we sleep around? (i have three current girlfriends who know about each other). Do we love extreme sports? Yes to all. I'm ex-military, film crew (Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Xena etc). I don't take meds, just alcohol and weed. I'm in control. I'm happy. I live life to the fullest.

I'm surrounded by true friends and family who support me emotionally, and do not judge or ridicule me. That is my real medication through my odd bad week. I'm not condoning my lifestyle, just documenting it. Take care out there in the "normal world".

By anon65329 — On Feb 12, 2010

i couldn't see a better parallel to my own life. my marriage broke up 10 years ago, I was forced to leave my teaching job due to my immense emotional problems and depression.

I spent the last eight years doing menial jobs and getting fired from all of them. Eleven years on prozac and xanax which didn't help much. then in september i was diagnosed bp 2. now in addition to my other meds i take lamictal. it sure helps. i recommend it to all bp 2 patients.

By anon65209 — On Feb 11, 2010

My marriage broke up 12 years ago and I attempted suicide. I was diagnosed with severe depression and placed on several meds. None really helped. About a year ago the diagnosis was changed to BP II. I'm now on four meds but can't honestly say I feel better. The last 12 years have been a living hell.

Prior to the marriage shattering I had been a high achiever professionally but that has gone away. I lack both energy and ambition. It's hard to imagine spending the rest of my life feeling this way.

I never could have imagined my life crumbling away in this manner. I hope it gets better.

By anon64978 — On Feb 10, 2010

My wife and I have been together for almost four years. We couldn't have been a happier couple. Two months ago I came home and she was packing to go stay with a friend. She wouldn't talk to me about what was wrong. We had been working opposite schedules which made both of us miserable, because we didn't get to see each other. A couple other issues too, which could have easily been worked out.

She left, and we would text each other every day. On Christmas, she called me crying, telling me that she loves me and what was she thinking getting rid of me, etc. I went and saw her Christmas, we had a very romantic reconnection, for four hours.

By afternoon, she was depressed, unresponsive to me. I didn't understand. I would text her. She didn't want to see me. She then sent me an e-mail, the day after Christmas that she was done with me. She no longer loved me.

A week later we were packing our house, moving to separate places. She now barely texts or call me. Only once. And we had lunch once.

She'll send me a casual text about something we used to laugh about. I'll send her a text how much I love her, then she will not respond for weeks.

She has said this has nothing to do with her being Bipolar II (is what she has been diagnosed). I have spent countless hours reading on the internet what bipolar is and reading other people's stories. Her family doesn't talk to me. This is the hardest part. I don't understand.

Is she manipulating them? Or do they not want to accept that how she left me is strange and she is sick? I am so mad at her family, yet not angry at her.

What is going through her head right now? Will she ever want to come back to me? Do I move on? Every day these are the questions I go through. Thank you.

By anon64253 — On Feb 06, 2010

I have never dealt with BPD 2, or any BP before, until I met the man who has only ever appeared in my dreams, and he has it. And I can tell you, if this helps, that it doesn't matter to me what health issue he has, this is not his fault, and I will be damned if I am going to let this affect the connection that we have.

I have seen him at his best, and he didn't want to see me at his worst, for two months I hardly heard from him, yet I continued to keep in touch and send him messages everyday and then he said he needed me. And I can tell you, that it made me more determined to stick by him and be there for him.

For those of you who carry this around with you, I am talking for the ones who love you, and no, its not easy, but we love you enough to help in any way that we can. To make sure you are OK, to make sure that you have eaten, and had a cuddle and been told that you are wonderful. You are not a problem, and like I said to my partner, we are in this together.

I really take my hat off to those of you who stick this out, because I don't know what it's like to have BP, but all I can do is try and make life a little easier for the one who has captured my heart.

By anon63975 — On Feb 04, 2010

Is there anyone who had a head trauma and then developed the disorder? I was slammed into concrete onto back of the head and have been manic since.

By anon62765 — On Jan 28, 2010

Since childhood, i remember having a different attitude from the other kids. I remember wanting to commit suicide as a child. My parents never wanted to believe in medicines and therapy. Finally, at the age of 27, i tried to overdose on pain killers. According to my doc in the hospital, i just needed to up my dose of Celexa to 60 mgs.

Another female in the hospital and i were in group and i was explaining my symptoms; the other female (who was bipolar) warned me that i sounded like her. And i may be bipolar too. Two weeks later i ended up back in the hospital due to suicidal thoughts.

I didn't believe either that i might be bipolar until i ended up with a new therapist who just couldn't understand why the docs wanted to say i was MDD but yet i have the symptoms of being bipolar 2.

Being correctly diagnosed feels way better than not understanding. The biggest problem i am having is convincing a doctor that antidepressants do nothing but make me lash out, cry all the time, shut me down to my house and bed room, and i have been hospitalized every time a dose goes up! Now, i have a doctor that wants to put me on Wellbutrin! I am honestly afraid to try another antidepressant.

By anon62484 — On Jan 26, 2010

I was diagnosed over three years ago after a traumatic marriage breakdown which spilled over into my work life.

I had been experiencing symptoms that I had been having since I was 15, but like others thought it was normal behavior. It wasn't until I realized that I was capable of hurting my children, that I knew I needed help.

I was prescribed atarax for depression and this sent me off the planet. I thought I was superwoman. Knowing this wasn't quite right, I went back to the doctor, who then realized this was more than depression.

Alas, I was diagnosed Bipolar II and prescribed Concorz to take in the morning and another mediation to take at night to stop the violent dreams. I stopped taking the night one as it made me extremely drowsy and useless. So for two years I'd been going well, in my health, my body and most importantly my mind.

In the past 12 months, I have moved towns, changed jobs, started a new relationship and my ex kidnapped my kids. Needless to say, I am in the middle of a relapse and my partner really has no idea how to handle me nor does he understand the illness.

I live in the middle of outback South Australia where help is a long way away. I have made an appointment with a local doctor who hopefully can help me back to recovery.

Well that's my whinge for the day. :)

By anon61754 — On Jan 22, 2010

I was just diagnosed with Bipolar II a week ago, and it was such a relief to know that there was a name for what has been going on with me. I have battled serious bouts of depression for as long as I can remember, certain things really triggered the depression such as failed relationships, or losing a job. But most of the time the depression would come and I just didn't know why or how to break out of it.

About a month ago I was battling a very serious bout of depression and was having suicidal thoughts, I knew I didn't want to hurt myself but the thoughts were there and I didn't know how to make them go away they were truly scaring me. I went to my doctor and was placed on Seroquel XR 200mg. Wow! let me tell you this has truly changed my life.

I feel like a completely different person and the suicidal thoughts and racing thoughts have dissipated, however I am still experiencing bouts of depressing far less severe than they had been, so I will be working with my doctor on possibly adding an antidepressant.

I also have noticed that when I get depressed and this was true before the Seroquel, that along with my depression I have anxiety, which really is a killer and it feels like I'm losing my mind.

Anyway it's nice to know that there are others out there having the same issues as I am and that I'm not alone. I do wish that none of us had to go through this.

This truly is a debilitating disorder and is only worse when not treated, for those of you talking about going off your meds, really think about that you know what it's like to not treat this disorder. Do you really think it will get better by not taking your meds?

By anon59212 — On Jan 06, 2010

I was just diagnosed with Bipolar II today (I am 27). I have been dealing with hypermanic episodes, depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety all my life. I thought it was normal and never wanted to complain.

My fiance finally convinced me to seek help. I have not started any of the meds yet. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one.

By mel3bel — On Jan 02, 2010

Wondering if it was possible to chat with anyone diagnosed with Bipolar II via AIM? Thanks. I really don't want to be on medication, but I am on Seroquel 50mg QD and Klonipin 1mg BID...wasn't sure if Seroquel was just to help with sleep and should I try Lamictal again?

By anon58547 — On Jan 02, 2010

I was diagnosed with Bipolar II back in 2006 and was placed on 7 medications at once because of attempted sucicide, self harm, severe depression, and high anxiety, so the Bipolar II was placed on the back burner.

For a year I have been stable until I started having hypomanic episodes. I was placed on Seroquel 50mg QD, and I remain on Klonopin 1mg BID. Seroquel just knocks me out. Does it really help with Bipolar II? Should I try Lamictal again?

By anon58169 — On Dec 30, 2009

I was diagnosed a month ago, and have ADHD also, I am a 27 year old student and single mother of my three year old. Being diagnosed has helped me immensely, as I now understand why I struggle with life so mum, let alone parenting. I was prescribed seroquel, 50 mgs a day doubled after a week.

Well, 50mg's knocks me out every night, my partner says I'm a different person, unable to get up in the morning and unemotional. I've decided to stop taking them and want to learn how to deal with the lows, any advice?

Miss dollypop :)

By anon57368 — On Dec 22, 2009

Just diagnosed with BiPolar two weeks ago. I'm 43. Been suffering with this my whole adult life. Started on Lithium, which I've been on for two weeks. Doc just started me on Lamictal today. It's a process, and not a great one.

I've been having crazy lucid dreams, and not pleasant ones. Nausea. I puked the other night. Loss of appetite. But what am I going to do? I've ruined my business, trashed my marriage (she's sticking with me for now) and can barely find the energy to get out bed in the morning. Hopeful? A little. Someone had me on Wellbutrin about three years ago and it took all of two days to put me into a full blown manic episode. Needless to say, I was off that drug a day later.

It's nice reading these comments, in that there are others out there who are going through what I am, but I'm sorry for me and for all of us. This is definitely a life changing thing and not sure where to go from here.

By anon57332 — On Dec 22, 2009

since being diagnosed with bipolar 2, three months ago i have been on 150 mg of lamictal. it's no better for me than 100mg.

before lamictal i'd be severely depressed for days and then i'd rapidly cycle to irritability and explosive anger for a couple days and then back again to depression. the lamictal has given me a day or two of symptoms free per week. that's nice but i need more to function better in society. anyone have any ideas?

By anon57118 — On Dec 20, 2009

anon56035: Please, please get a mood stabilizer. You are likely to end up in terrible shape on an SNRI. These not only don't fix bipolar II, but they may greatly increase its symptoms.

There is a huge shift in the medical community on this topic. Mood stabilizers depakote, lamictal, tegretol (carbamazepine), or lithium are the better way to go. A few people seem to benefit from an SSRI or SNRI in addition, but most people do not.

The other path is an atypical antipsychotic, like seroquel. I hope you get help on this.

By anon56035 — On Dec 11, 2009

Does anyone know if Bipolar II can be effectively managed with a SSNRI alone? My symptoms began when I was about eight, or maybe younger, intense highs and intense lows, I've been suicidal intermittently since I was eight.

The nature of my symptoms is that depression affects me much more than hypomania, they're just periods of high energy, high confidence, elation, spontaneity, creativity, I'm productive and creative and charismatic.

My psychiatrist doesn't think I need a mood stabiliser because it doesn't get me in trouble, in fact I'm very productive when I'm up (I wrote two essays totalling 7,000 words in a weekend and got high distinctions for both), but the depressions are debilitating, and lately in the last six years, they have come more frequently and lasted longer, and I'm thinking that the Effexor (now Pristiq) alone is not an optimal treatment, and that a mood stabiliser maybe Lamictal might prevent them from recurring?

By anon55662 — On Dec 08, 2009

Two weeks ago I was diagnosed as bi polar II, ultra-ultra rapid cycling -- about ten major life changing things finally set off panic attacks, including a real good whack to the head.

After a week on lamictal (no real difference for another three weeks), and two weeks of study, I have been manic and hadn't noticed, and depressed episodes since I was five years old, I am now 56. I smoked dope for 16 years and that masked it so well no one knew. "He's just stoned".

After 22 years of recovery from drugs and alcohol, the bi polar swings have started ruling my life. I stay busy health wise, eat reasonably right but am eating more fish, and more vegetables now. What a tornado in my mind. At least the witch is out of the closet and I can pour water on her.

I am better in knowing what the problem is and am closer to being healthier and less suicidal, less manic. I always thought it was fun to drive 120 mph or sleep with everyone, or play with explosives. Who knew?

By anon54708 — On Dec 01, 2009

I have tried many of these drugs and it triggered hypomania with the first(zoloft) and continued in varying states with the subsequent (cymbalta, lexapro, celexa). The most worrying things were the alcohol craving (to compensate for mania?) and the selfishness that almost destroyed a good marriage.

I have just (two months ago) dropped the celexa and am on nothing. I was so depressed that I finally tried a program for my Iphone: relax lite (free program) which seemed kind of hopeful. I bought two programs which I'm using that are part of Andrew Johnson's hypnotherapy. Sounds corny, but it seems to be helping with coping, at least. And, now that I have read this series of discussions, I think I won't fill the wellbutrin prescribed by my shallow psychiatric nurse practitioner who, like the doctor that I first saw, seems very little interested in these discussions. It took a medical friend to diagnose my behavior and hypomanic, not the doctor I'd been seeing for three years.

I hope that I don't have to go on another medication!


By anon54328 — On Nov 29, 2009

I was diagnosed Bipolar 2 about two years ago after 20 years of being on Zoloft for depression. I definitely had the hypomania which was great for me. I started two successful business and worked 80 hours a week. The severe depression would show up and last for a few days to a week, but was getting worse.

I cannot tell you the number of times I had planned or attempted suicide. My psychiatrist added Wellbutrin to the zoloft a year ago and the racing thoughts went out of control, followed by major depression and suicidal obsession. I was cycling every six or seven days. It was absolute hell. I self-diagnosed the Bipolar 2 and talked to my doctor about starting me on Lamictal. Wow, what a difference.

I had started taking the supplement Empower Plus from True Hope just a week before starting the Lamictal. I felt great but wasn't sure which one was doing the job. Things were great for about nine months and I felt the most stable I could remember in my adult life. Money was tough and I decided to drop the Empower Plus. Two months later, I was in a long suicidal depression that lasted for weeks. I had the suicide note written, the noose hanging, the ladder in place, and my head in it. I just couldn't go through with it. I thought I would wait a little longer. The depression finally lifted again as it always does, thank God.

Long story short, it appears that for me the Lamictal with the Empower plus is the right recipe for me. I re-ordered this morning, cost be damned. Best wishes everyone.

By anon54150 — On Nov 27, 2009

I am so glad that there are others like me, but than not, because I hate being this way. I am assuming that I have had this disease for years. My marriage of 20 years is no longer, my daughter who is 17 will not have anything to do with me, my 21 year old son has to support me.

I do not think that I can sink any lower than this.

I wish that I could have done things different so my life at 47 would not change so much. I am on three different medicines for all this, but there is not a day that does not go by that I just want all this to end.

I have to struggle every day not to commit suicide. I only wish that no one had to go through this and that we would not scare away the ones we love most. I am newly diagnosed within the last month.

By anon53549 — On Nov 22, 2009

I hate, hate, hate having bipolar II. I ruined a marriage, hurt those close to me, and have been involved in high risk behavior. Looking back, I am lucky I survived.

I recently found a new therapist who is a specialist in the disease. I truly hope it helps. I am "the life of the party" and display typical bipolar II symptoms. Most people think I am high energy and extremely happy. Little do they know how much I suffer and how close I am to suicide. I am back on Lamictal and optimistic. This time I am going to stick with the plan.

By ac4142 — On Nov 16, 2009

i am 53 years old and was just recently diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. i have been struggling with this is since i was a kid. At age 43 i went to a doctor and he put me on prozac. i went berserk on an off duty cop who insulted me and i lost my teaching job as a result seven years ago. Three months ago i went berserk on some white trash neighbors blasting loud stereos and riding four-wheelers with no mufflers for hours a day for over two years. they called the cops on me and i was arrested with a slew of ridiculous charges. Two months ago i started lamictal and feel better. i loathe young cops with combat boots and whitewall haircuts and mustaches.

By anon52691 — On Nov 16, 2009

I'm tired of taking medication but if i don't i know that i will be a box of noodles. I was told that i had Bipolar II and that my life would never change if i didn't take my medication. I'm married and I really don't get any support from my spouse because he doesn't understand. sometimes I don't understand. can someone tell me how do we get this disorder? is it in the family gene or is it something that pops up in your life? I just want to know will I always be this way.

By anon49687 — On Oct 22, 2009

Yes I also have been struggling with major depression, borderline - personality, anxiety etc. Tried nearly all meds on market. I also hat ECT (shock therapy) three times due to my severity of depression. Every day is a new day for me. I don't know what my mood is going to be.

Currently I am using 300mg Seroquel, 125mg Lamictal in the evening and 150mg Venlor and 125mg Lamictal in the morning and I still get my bad days. I have also been hospitalized a few times, the longest was for three months when I received therapy and ECT (shock therapy). The only thing about shock therapy is that you get temporary memory loss.

I just wish there was a quick solution to this Bipolar 2 condition that I have, even though I am fighting this battle especially for my three daughters and husband.

Good luck to you all!

By anon49587 — On Oct 21, 2009

I was diagnosed with bipolar II (instead of unipolar depression) about 12 years ago and I felt/feel nothing but relief to finally know what was happening to me and why. It helped me to forgive years of behaviors that hurt me and those I loved.

My psychiatrist just returned from an international conference on bipolar disorders. He told me that current research points to the possibility that anti-depressants may not help most people with Bipolar II with depression. (I can testify to that). It also is now pointing to the use of small doses of seroquel.

I was on effexor for years with no substantial relief from my depression and have lived in deep despair that I would never know a life without serious depression. I am going to start on seroquel in two weeks. It's worth the try for me personally.

I want to thank all of you for writing in. It's so nice to hear from other people suffering from what I do.

By anon47227 — On Oct 02, 2009

Recently diagnosed with BPD II. Now that I look back there was always something amiss, but I (or anybody else for that matter) could never put their finger on it. First year of college really exploded my symptoms of depression. But normal or hypomanic in-betweens weren't even considered unusual. I just thought I was having a good day or week. Now i am a graduate of college and the correct diagnosis is here. The meds are another thing. I have been on lexapro 20mg for about 3 years. Now am also on Klonopin 0.5mg 3x day and the lovable seroquel 200mg at night-which i think just makes me go to sleep and nothing else. I am thinking of switching the seroquel to lamictal and keep the lexapro and klonopin. If that doesn't work then I'm in a world of hurt trying to work on these med combos. The best advice I have is to have some one person that you can tell everything to, whether it be your therapist, sibling, parent, doctor, whomever. You need to express some of this built up and powerful emotion.

By anon45535 — On Sep 17, 2009

I'm 53 years old and been fighting this illness for about 10 years. I've been through the entire drug spectrum and am finally semi functional on 200 mg of seroquel daily. I hate this damn illness, never knowing how I'll feel or behave from one day to the next. No one should have to live like this!

By c30 — On Sep 12, 2009

I have suffered with Bipolar II for many, many years. I have taken so many combinations of meds. I also had ECT several years ago. They leave me feeling like I am just existing. I came off the meds about four months ago. I went through horrible withdrawals: twitches, blood pressure dropping to where I would get dizzy and occasionally faint. I stuck to it, I am now med free. With no withdrawal side effects. I have just however started on a manic episode. I guess I did not realize it until a coworker said to me what are you on, I would like some of it. Hello, that was a wake up. I am just trying to deal with it right now. That particular coworker does not know that I am Bipolar. A couple of others do. I am talking to them now to get through this. My friends did not know I came off my meds until now. They want me to go back on them. I just can't deal with the dead feeling. What do I do?

By anon43826 — On Sep 01, 2009

I was told today by a medical doctor I trust that I could have bipolar 2. I have been diagnosed with OCD in the past, an eating disorder, and have dealt with a whole slew of anxiety related issues. depression too. The meds I've been on have been for depression, and have never actually made a difference, so I wouldn't stay on them. I'm relieved to know that maybe it wasn't just in my head, that maybe those meds weren't for me, but terrified at the word bipolar. I was OK with OCD, it gave me something to describe to help people understand where I was coming from. Bipolar just makes me not want to tell anyone, even though I really relate to the description of it.

By kaya — On Aug 29, 2009

I've had Bipolar for about eight years. My husband, then boyfriend, had told me that something was wrong with me. I don't do or talk or even act normal. Nice, eh? So we went to the doctor and yes I ended up with the most horrible news. I have been through it all. I was a little rat being put on all sorts of meds. It's been about 20 different ones, and half of them made me try committing suicide. From cutting, to slicing, to overdosing, and I've been taken to the hospital a few times for it. But back in 1991, I received a major head injury to where they thought I wouldn't live, then they told my mom I would probably be a vegetable. Well none of that happened but they feel that having Bipolar was the cause of my accident. So I guess instead of being a vegetable I get to be a mental one, instead. Living with this is hell. I never know from when I get up in the mornings what that day will bring me. The meds I take now seem to help more but it stinks not knowing what will happen next. I feel sorry for you all who have this disorder. May God bless us all. Good luck to all of you.

By anon43041 — On Aug 25, 2009

I have had progressively severe episodes of depression since my early 20s; until about 5-6 years ago I was suicidal. My psychiatrist mentioned bipolar 2, but I didn't want to consider it. Finally, after several years and much therapy, I realized that I was cycling, and the irritability was affecting my work, and possibly my marriage (I divorced). Still working on the dosage, but I am on Lamotragine (however you spell it - lamictal generic), Clonazapam, and Lexapro, though I hope to get rid of the Lexapro soon. I believe in the combination of drugs and therapy, and I feel better than I have in years (I am now 43).

By anon41880 — On Aug 18, 2009

I was diagnosed with bipoler disorder 2 disorder about 2 months ago. prior to that I had been diagnosed with major depression, and my meds did not work. I suffered for many years. I got to a point where I could not function normally in everyday life. I was cycling through hypo manic, or complete anxiety and depression, to the point I was suicidal! and shut out everything and every person I knew, including my family. I ended up being hospitalized for stabilization. that's when I was diagnosed with bipoler 2. they put me on lexapro 10 mg, seroquel 25 mg, and depakoteER 500 mg. after about a month I started thinking more clearly, and the mood swings started to level out. I feel better than I have in years! It is still early in my treatment, but I now feel hope for my future. that in itself is amazing.

By anon41728 — On Aug 17, 2009

I was recently diagnosed as Bipolar 2 as well. It's genetic I've had it for probably six to eight years. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with a stress related myoclonic seizure disorder, and was treated for that with Topamax, Paxil and Klonapin, unknowingly treating the Bipolar 2.

An event last year was the cause of my coming off the seizure meds, causing full on ultradian cycling. One minute I'd be depressed, the next hypomanic- elated. Three to five hours later, I'd be fine, only to be followed by waking up irate and irrational. My children and relationships were suffering, because even I never knew how I'd be feeling one minute to the next.

I recently saw a friend that I'd last seen before starting therapy. She said, "You are so calm. It's creepy.".

Luckily, my first combination of meds worked- Lamictal, Paxil and Valium. My moods have been stabilized, but I'm struggling with missing what I came to define as part of me. The emotions I feel are less intense and that's a little scary. It's been a struggle, but it's nice to finally have a name to what's going on in my head -- and to know that I really *cannot* control it.

By anon41067 — On Aug 12, 2009

The one thing that has helped me the most is reaching out to friends and family. Talking to others, listening, and sharing. It's amazing how much people care! Always remember this.

By anon40369 — On Aug 07, 2009

I would just like to say that I think all of you should keep on keeping on. People find it hard to deal with what they don't understand. Immediate friends and family should be let in I think. Just so they can be told the full info. Ignorance is *not* bliss.

Today my doctor told me that I should go see a psychiatrist to talk about whether they feel I have bipolar 2. It semi- made sense. Then I did a ton of reading today about bipolar 1, 2 and all the mood disorders in between. Bipolar fits. I am 34 and the description fits me all the way back to being a young teenager. I don't exactly think I can be "cured", but I do know that actually having a name put to something feels better. Esp, better than "depression," "anxiety disorder," "seasonal affective disorder". Yes, have been classified of all 3.

If you or anyone you know feels that you may have bipolar tendencies, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, or severe depression and anxiety, keep talking until someone listens. Some things are hard to diagnose in a few minutes. Make sure you lay all the facts, behaviors, moods, all out on the table. Provide examples. It helps the doctor be able to get a clearer picture an determine if you are at risk and if you need immediate care.

Most people who want to kill themselves don't really want to, they just feel that there is nothing else. Get help. Other people have felt similar.

By anon39609 — On Aug 03, 2009

I am 46. I have lived with this all my life. I have destroyed my life over and over with the behaviors described here in the article. I was finally accurately diagnosed this last fall. I am still not on the correct meds. The despair is overwhelming. The regrets from a lifelong undiagnosed condition weigh heavy on my soul. Suicidal thoughts? Every day. My profession? Soldier (no longer capable), and city employee. My marriage, hanging on but every day is hard. Outlook: each day is a struggle. Life should not be this way.

How to explain to family, friends, coworkers: Don't, to most. I tend to be quite open and tell anyone who asks. Not a good idea. Work will use it against you if they need to. Friends? Well friends tend to stay with people that are not that hard to be friends with. Too intense: no friends. Life is hard enough for them too. Coworkers: they may need to step over you on the way up. They will use this against you.

Just say you have a condition and don't care to discuss it further. You don't need to lie and you don't need to tell anyone. That is one way we are better off today than before. Confidentiality.

Good luck to you all. I hope you get treatment faster than I did. Take your lives back before you ruin any more of it.

By anon39608 — On Aug 03, 2009

My partner has recently split up with me. i am confused as to whether it is because of his Bipolar II or it was just unfortunate. I was aware he had this and was willing to accept and help if possible. He would be very distant then loving, no motivation, pushed friends away, drinking every day, smoking increased within 5 weeks of me moving in. Then recently he said he wanted me to leave the next day. When I was leaving he broke down on more than one occasion saying he never loved me but told me every day he had drank quite a lot and was told to come off meds four weeks prior. Then sent messages saying it was not me, it was him which confused me about whether it was me or how he felt or Bipolar. Has anyone experienced the same or similar? I am still worried and hope he can get the help he needs but he has pushed me away.

By anon38341 — On Jul 25, 2009

Does anyone have a way to less scary word than bipolar to explain to people? My coworkers keep asking what type of doctors appointment I have or what is wrong with me today but I don't want to say I have bipolar 2 or am depressed. Any ideas?

By anon34971 — On Jul 01, 2009

All i can say is that I'm judged on a daily basis for being just that little bit different! It's not fair... I've met someone who I'm madly in love with and I'm sure he now does not want to be with me. Now he is about to find out my condition which is actually trauma induced. I've had to deal with this since I was 14 years old and now I'm 32 on no meds and with a beautiful child. Am I destined to be alone for something that's not my fault and that I have spent half my life trying to fix? I wish I could just be accepted for the different but special person that I am? Since finding out that I have this condition which totally stinks I've never felt so alone in my whole life! Please love me for who I am Daniel and not discard me for something that's not my fault :( *I love you beautiful*!

By frankyf208 — On Jun 16, 2009

Franky here from New Zealand.. Im still having my good and bad dayz.. on a natural *high* at the moment but starting to annoy my family and frendz..

By Sonja — On May 21, 2009

I am sixteen years old. Two days ago I was diagnosed as having bipolar 2. This was after a year of counseling and treatment for anxiety disorders and depression. Two months ago I attempted suicide and was diagnosed as severely depressed. My doctor prescribed prozac and it seemed to have little effect. I still couldn't take care of myself or make decisions that positively impacted my future. I had periodic breakdowns, but these alternated with periods where the prozac seemed to be working.

After talking to my doctor again, she suggested going to a psychiatrist. I went to the NW expert on teenage mental disorders and was diagnosed as above. I have been in therapy for a year for various unsavory instances in my past and it has continued along with my changing diagnosis.

I'll be honest, I was a straight A student, but I failed three classes this year. I'm terrified that I may have ruined my chances forever. My parents and friends are upset with me, and though they are trying to help I feel like no one understands how much I am trying to pull myself back together. I've been doing everything I can. How can I explain what's going on? I'm lost and confused and need help. Does anyone have any suggestions?

By anon31868 — On May 12, 2009

I was diagnosed with manic depression (since diagnosed as Bipolar II) around 3-4 years ago and it came as a real relief that my problems had a name. I was started on mild antidepressants and they really worked wonders. Over the next year or so, my meds changed and the doses were increased to the point where I have been taking 300mg a day of Effexor (after a really horrible period on just 10mg of Lexapro that made me quite suicidal).

A week ago, I stopped taking the meds. Not ideal, I know, but I just decided that I'm sick of taking the meds and seeing myself fall back into old patterns. The meds seem to be making me more aggressive - that would be the mania that Effexor tends to increase. And really, I'm tired of it. The first few days without any meds were really bad because I was getting the shakes, head zaps, disorientation and the rest of it, including some mild depression but I've decided to persevere - the moods are just a symptom of withdrawal. I've taken 150mg on a couple of days when the dizziness was too extreme, just to feel a bit normal, and it helped but I'm back to cold turkey.

I decided to do this because, luckily, I can manage the Bipolar II – that is, even though I’m alienating people and often feel like dying, I can still manage to get up in the morning, interact with people and hold down a job, and I’ve never had the need to be hospitalized. So I wouldn’t recommend my course of action to just anyone. But I realized that I want to see what happens. Perhaps the manic and the depressive episodes (which were worse but further apart) can be managed? I’m going to try to just see them as who I am. But it’s early days yet and I’m feeling really buoyant and hypo so I don’t know what tomorrow will be like. One day at a time. I’m keeping a mood chart, which I would recommend to everyone. It helps you to really analyze the intensity of the peaks and troughs as well as their duration, possibly helping pre-empt them.

I’ve spoken to my manager at work about working from home for a few days as soon as I get the hint of an “episode” coming on and they’re really supportive because, let’s face it, if it was so easy to just change our thinking as soon as an episode started to rear its ugly head (like all of those feel good mantras tell us – “you *can* choose to be happy!”) then who would need meds!

Good luck everyone – and remember to question everything your shrink recommends and not just take meds as a first resort in the case of Bipolar II.

By mbtul123 — On Apr 06, 2009

My daughter age 28 was just diagnosed bipolar II and is currently doing inpatient for co-occurring "Axis II" and substance abuse. She has had many different med combos and has frequently gone out "on the street" and taken no meds.

She has thyroid deficiency too and needs synthroid. Many behaviors are consistent with borderline personality disorder. Are BPD (borderline) and Bipolar II related and are they often confused/misdiagnosed for each other?

By anon29131 — On Mar 27, 2009

i am 15 and i think i have Bipolar 2. i have all the symptoms. its really hard. my friends don't understand it and see it as an excuse when i treat them badly when i am in one of my bad moods. i didn't even notice i was doing it at first until my friends kept pointing it out.

By amberlily — On Mar 24, 2009

I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder only 2 weeks ago. I am on Geodon and paxil. Any luck with the two?

By anon27385 — On Feb 27, 2009

Wouldn't it be nice if there was just a blood test or something tangible to determine the perfect med.? I have been on paxil for 10 years (after a gamut of different meds. and doing therapy). I never went back to 100% of me but, looking forward at the future and impact to work and family. I was OK.

I recently "crashed" again and am working with a new psychiatrist and psychologist on another cocktail. This time is nothing like 10 years ago. So far we have, lithium, clonazapam, abilify and 1/2 of my paxil dose. I'm still waiting to feel emotions and be functional again.

We're all different so, we go fishing for the right thing and hope for the best. Because of my longevity of playing with "major depressive" now "bipolar II" I have just learned to play along no matter how bad it gets...the other alternatives and consequences to my family are just to great to give up. The question is....Are we willing to take the time and try to find the best we can? ...Are we willing to accept who we are now?

By anon27197 — On Feb 25, 2009

it sounds like you people have a lot of experiences and i don't. i was diagnosed in five minutes with bipolar 2 and the doctor really didn't let me talk or explain. i've lived a very stressful life and in the fall my girl left, my business went under, and i developed severe anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks so on.

i've been working with a different doctor and counselor who have changed my diagnosis to ocd, and i do admit that it fits.

the question i have is they put me on zoloft and when they upped the dose i now feel nervous and anxious. i've got this this thing in my head that it could be making me manic, i'm not sure because i really am confused how being manic feels like. can anybody help?

By anon22586 — On Dec 06, 2008

I was diagnosed with Bipolar II 3 years ago. I started on Citalopram (I think it is the same as Celexa). That made me crazy and I had a lot of trouble sleeping. It also prevented me from feeling anything emotionally, which was quite scary.

Next, I went on to Lamotrogine (a.k.a. Lamictal I believe). I was taking 6 pills a day and didn't feel much of anything in the way of improvement. Didn't seem to help, but didn't seem to hurt. For $400+ a month, I wanted something that made me feel like a superhero.

Then I went on lithium. 3 pills a day and the best medication for me. I did get a bit toxic and got severe hand tremors, but that was resolved by increasing my sodium intake (I had cut salt out thinking that would help, but it actually made things worse). I just made sure I got regular blood tests and was aware of myself.

I decided to go off all medication about a year ago. I'd changed jobs and could no longer see my wonderful psychiatrist because my insurance changed. I found one who continued my prescription, but didn't seem to think I was bipolar because I seemed okay (the meds were working, duh!). I just got to a point where if I took one more pill, I was going to vomit. So I stopped and it wasn't actually all that bad.

Over the past year off medication, I have been closely monitoring myself for any emerging symptoms and have been looking for a new psychiatrist, just in case (unsuccessful in finding a decent one though). I exercise regularly which really helps and try to keep a healthy diet. I've had a couple issues here and there, but have been okay for the most part.

I am going to continue looking for a good psychiatrist because it is important to monitor yourself and get help when you need it. It is also good to have some close people around you who know about your situation so they can let you know if you appear to be having problems. I would also like to find a therapist, but a psychiatrist is my priority at this point.

By WGwriter — On Dec 03, 2008

To a few recent comments,

It's great if you can manage without meds, but lots of people do need them.

My 2 cents, therapy can't work when the brain is completely fogged and when your behavior becomes so unreasonable that you just can't apply therapeutic methods to solve things. Plus, risk of being without meds is significant for some people. You can't know in advance that a manic or depressive episode won't cause you to be suicidal. It's just not predictable.

However, I fully recognize resistance to taking meds, and there's a kind of grief involved. Being on meds for life really does mean transitions and dealing with side effects and health sacrifices. Finding the right med combo helps, and can definitely affect the "no mood" syndrome, but that is very hard work. You need patience and a dedicated psychiatrist who will work with you on that.

Bipolar and Bipolar II are life changing illnesses and they are not easy. Once people stabilize on meds, therapy can be helpful in dealing with the grief that comes from being stuck with this diagnosis. We all want and expect a healthy life, and though many things can be normal with these illnesses, it's still not "normal" living, at least from my personal experience.

My best to everyone who has commented thus far. Tricia EC

By WGwriter — On Dec 03, 2008


Totally appreciate your comments. I too went for numerous years before getting the right diagnosis, and it was intensely frustrating. I agree with you on the alcohol, it can make you absolutely nuts when paired with the mood stabilizers and especially things like benzodiazepines.

Sometimes lower doses help with the "dull" aspect, but that's really individual.

I've been pretty lucky to keep that out, but I still get so tired sometimes, and I've gotten meds down to a mood stabilizer (tegretol) and one antidepresant, plus synthroid. It's still a vast amount of drugs to take at night, isn't it?

Keep us posted on that second opinion. Sounds like all the commenters here benefit from learning new things about this disease.


Tricia EC

By anon22079 — On Nov 27, 2008

After being diagnosed with dysthymia at the age of 19, this has naturally evolved into bipolar II by the age of 22/23. I'm 24 now.

I have found therapy to be more useful than medication in controlling this. I am fortunate in that my moods only flare up more seriously when I'm under an increased amount of stress. Learning to realize what triggers this stress pre-preemptively, and being aware of the signs and symptoms of a depressed/hypomanic episodes when they do strike, has been invaluable in forming a coping strategy. Minor rapid cycling to a very large degree can be controlled through a healthy lifestyle; diet, sleep, exercise, multivitamins and taking the time to find yourself. Self-maintenance and understanding are key.

However, when my moods do flare I have found low doses of Effexor to be very effective (37.5mg/day). It lessens the gut feeling of depression yet tends to temper the much sharper side of hypomania; in other words, it increases concentration in a much more positive way and allows me to use my energy constructively. Add to this being much more relaxed in social situations and it's a winner. It is not a magic bullet cure, though it does space thoughts out a bit for reflection when dealing with rougher times.

I have never believed in the efficacy of these drugs at high level doses, unless there are serious thoughts of suicide/self-harm. I've had full-blown manic episodes from average to high doses of other AD's, as well as Effexor, but low doses of this in particular have done wonders in balancing me until I am ready to return to a drug-free state =)

By anon20744 — On Nov 05, 2008

you guys all seem to be talking about meds but what if you don't want to take them? i have bipolar2 and i'm currently so confused as to whether or not i should take drugs. the drugs make me flat... there are no highs and lows just complete apathy almost. i want some kind of happy medium where i still FEEL things and have natural moods but I don't want life to be as hard or extreme as it is now.

Ups and downs are completely natural, being happy all the time is not real and the suggestion that we should be is unnatural and a trap. But that's not to say that the ups and downs that bipolar2 sufferers feel are normal either... they're too extreme.

all this "i take this and that mixed with one of these and then one of them to balance that" scares the CRAP out of me though. yes i've tried different combinations and options but I don't want a synthetic version of me, i want me... without the extreme extremes.

Is this too much to hope for and is there anyway for this to be achieved? cognitive therapy is a lovely theory but i can't by the fact that i still have to think about changing the thought when it arrives... does it ever just begin to change naturally?

like when you're learning a language, you have to translate everything in your head first... that's what cognitive therapy feels like for me. anyone else?

By anon19802 — On Oct 20, 2008

anon11113, my medication regime includes both Celexa and Abilify. I recently stopped Seroquel as I was having some unusual facial and tongue movements. We're still waiting to see if they go away. In the meantime I have benztropine (Cogentin) to stop the movements. I also use Klonopin fairly regularly because I also have social phobia. It's worked wonders for me. I've finally gotten my life back.

By anon19694 — On Oct 17, 2008

Sarah, yes it is possible for ADHD and depression to be diagnosed instead of Bipolar II. I had the diagnosis of ADHD with major depression for years. I am now 40 years old and was just diagnosed as Bipolar II. I believe that either Web MD or Wikipedia has an article that states this as well.

By anon17898 — On Sep 10, 2008

I would consider a mild anti depressant to be any anti depressant used at a low dose but in saying that a prescription is needed so discuss it further with your health care professional.

By anon17417 — On Aug 28, 2008

Hi, my name is Sarah and I just happened to read this and thought it was very informative. At a young age, I was diagnosed as having ADHD and later on, in my early teens, I was also diagnosed with depression. I never thought this was the right combination and the day I turned 18 I stopped taking all my meds. This screwed me up severely for about a year, and after that I started to discover that I have patterns of depression and hypomania. Would it be possible to mis-diagnose Bipolar II as ADHD with Depression?

By anon15614 — On Jul 16, 2008

I was diagnosed with major depression (suicidal) by my primary care physician. She prescribed me Celexa. Celexa sent me into a crazy hypomanic phase.

I do not blame Celexa since I really loved the euphoria associated with the hypomanic state. I met with my doctor every 3 weeks during this time, and I hid how I was feeling. After about 2 months of being incredibly euphoric, I came down on my own. I finally came clean about the episode with my new psychiatrist.

He re-diagnosed me as BiPolar II. He adjusted my dosage of Celexa from 40mg to 20mg, and added 200mg of Wellbutrin and Seroquel (to help me sleep). I am feeling pretty good on this combination.

By Tapscr — On Jun 25, 2008

Bipolar II--I was diagnosed with Bipolar II approximately 1 year ago. Prior to that I had been treated with an antidepressant for about 3 years. The problem with the antidepressant (Effexor) is that it seemed to exacerbate my problems and I would cycle in and out of hypo-manic and severe depression much more quickly. I had always cycled through these moods 2-3 times per year, but the cycles increased in time (5-6) per year and intensity. I was also seeing a licensed professional counselor who did not consider the possibility of a physiological illness, even though I was taking Effexor. I thought I was depressed and pushed my internist to prescribe the Effexor and we continued to increase the dosage.

My irritability levels while depressed and in a hypomanic state continued to increase and my ability to focus at home and at work continued to decrease. Finally, early last summer, I saw a psychiatrist friend and he immediately diagnosed me with Bipolar II. He put me on Lamectil, we continued the Effexor and Clonazam. By the end of the summer I was a mess, extremely manic, forgetful, and unbearable to live with. I was also drinking very heavily which had been a hallmark of my after work routine for years. All of this was very difficult on my family. We changed to Depakote in the fall and discontinued the antidepressant, but I continued to take small doses of Clonazepam. I quit drinking because the Doctor finally convinced me that he could not get the medication dosages right while I was drinking and thus, the effectiveness of any medication would be severely compromised. Upon changing to Depakote the manic state subsided. Unfortunately, we pushed too far and my depression kicked in again. We got rid of the Clonazepam, started Wellbutrin as an anti-depressant which almost immediately increased my irritability.

Finally, I switched the anti-depressant to Lexapro and moved the dosage gradually from 10 to 20 mg. per day. The major adverse affect was somnolence (sleepiness, lethargy) which extremely aggravated my wife. I then added Provigil (stimulant) to help me stay awake which is awesome in that it really only last about 12 hours if I've gotten a good night's rest the night before. I also take a low dose of Temazepam which helps me sleep all night (7-8 hrs).

Below is my dosing regimen: Morning: 20 mg Lexapro 100 mg Provigil

Night before bed: 1500 mg Depakote 10 mg Synthroid 10 mg Temazepam

My wife generally agrees that the treatment is working in that my irritability is gone, but she thinks the drugs have too much of a dulling effect. She also thinks that while I may be suffering from severe depression, she disputes the Bipolar II diagnosis. We are seeking a second opinion on the diagnosis, but I refuse to back-track on the steps that we have made. The illness over the years has severely eroded our relationship and I think that she is scared that I'll revert back to the mean husband and father that I was before. I am scared that without the drug therapy that I will back-track to the point that I was in early last summer. As I indicated, I was drinking heavily at that point, which when I realized it was inhibiting the drugs' performance, I quit immediately. Now I rarely even have a beer, much less any liquor. I would encourage anyone who are on mood stabilizing or altering drugs to seriously consider the adverse effects of alcohol. It really can mess your treatment up. Not necessarily the next day, but the next week or two. If you want to get well, you've got to push back the booze.

I very much appreciate your article because it explains almost exactly my experience with BiPolar II. Misdiagnosis as depression. Treatment solely with antidepressants which lose their effectiveness. More depression, anxiety and irritability. Job problems. Acknowledgment of the mixed-mood problem by family and co-workers. Things are great at work and I'm the most productive and happy I've been in years. Unfortunately, I am perplexed that my wife, having already lived through the long road back, is now refusing to accept the diagnosis and the treatment, hence the second opinion.

Any thoughts on any of the above are appreciated. Thanks again for the exceptional article.

By finarouge — On Jun 07, 2008

I was just diagnosed with Bipolar II. My experience started 15 years ago when I was in 7th grade. My family chose to ignore my symptoms, even when I asked for help. Eventually I saw a psychiatrist (1.5 years ago) who assumed I had Major Depressive Disorder and prescribed an SNRI. I was never asked about any hypomanic symptoms, and I wasn't educated about them so I didn't know that they were abnormal. My new therapist has finally diagnosed me with Bipolar II and prescribed Lamictal. I've also read that less than 25% of psychiatrists ask seemingly depressed patients about hypomanic or manic episodes. It seems to me that the community levels of those with Bipolar II are probably much higher than the 0.5% stated by the DSM-IV-TR due to the rampant malpractice by many psychiatrists. I'm just so angry that many mental health practitioners overlook this disorder, and often prescribe medications that can worsen symptoms (antidepressants) and lead to life-threatening situations.

By WGwriter — On Jun 01, 2008

Hi Manifest,

Thanks for commenting. At least from what I have read, there's a lot of problems with going the anti-depressant route only because it can spark up the manic phases like nobody's business. Some people do a combo of mood stabilizer and anti-depressant. Others find that mood stabilizers alone do the trick. I haven't heard of successful treatment from an antidepressant alone, since it wouldn't counter the "highs" of they hypomanic state.

It really does seem to affect everyone differently though. I can think of at least ten or twelve people I know with bipolar II, and no person is on the same medication regimen.

By Manifest — On May 28, 2008

Annon11113: I am a newly diagnosed bipolar2, but I thought you would like to know that Celexa threw me into major manic phases. you may experience it differently, I was not pairing it with a mood stabilizer.

By WGwriter — On Apr 09, 2008

Anon11113 - The correct combination of medications is a very individual process. Some people do well on just a bipolar meds like abilify. Others have a really hard time without going to one of the major bipolar meds (lithium, tegretol, depacote) and an antidepressant. Then there's the issue of the antidepressants. Too much (some people have a tough time with Prozac and Zoloft) and you can end up cycling too high. I've heard of some people going up way too fast (into hypomanic states) on wellbutrin. But, even though it would seem that the medical community understands mental illness -- there's significant evidence to prove that they're really not sure why or how some drugs work. The most important thing is to check in with yourself and assess improvement. Gotta say when I switched to tegretol, the world came back into focus, but that doesn't mean it's the right medication for you. It took 5 years to arrive at a correct diagnosis of my condition.

Important note: Avoid Neurontin. It is documented that the testing on Neurontin showed it to be a significant mood stabilizer, but this turned out not to be the case and the company has been found to have actually falsified data in their tests. Most people are not having it prescribed anymore, but if it's suggested, avoid it, as it proves completely ineffective for most people. It seriously complicated my diagnosis, since I was on it for years, and my psychiatrist concluded it couldn't be bipolar II because then I'd respond to Neurontin.

Also, check your thyroid levels. A lot of people with bipolar and bipolar II need small amounts of thyroid to help them better synthesize their medications. A low normal reading may mean supplementing with sythroid (thyroxidine). Most medical doctors are unfamiliar with the studies on this.

By anon11113 — On Apr 08, 2008

has anyone else been treated with doses of abilify along with Celexa with success? I was just diagnosed with bipolar II and was hoping for a miracle. thanks. god bless.

By KarenRB53 — On Aug 28, 2007

I thought this article on Bipolar2 was very informative. It states a "mild antidepressant" and an "anticonvulsant" may help. Are you at liberty to say what you consider a mild antidepressant?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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