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Signs Of Bipolar II In Teens

bipolar teenager

Bipolar disorder is also referred to as manic depression, manic-depressive disorder, manic-depressive illness, bipolar mood disorder, and/ or bipolar affective disorder. Bipolar disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) with four specific classifications, which are bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. Bipolar disorder is characterized by noticeable, unprovoked, sometimes extreme, changes in mood and behavior. Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed after one or more major depressive episodes and at least one episode of hypomania (possibly with level moods occurring between episodes). Hypomania is the term used to denote the “highs” occurring in bipolar II disorder. Due to the fact that the hypomania symptoms that present in bipolar II disorder are not as pronounced as those that occur with bipolar I disorder, it is not uncommon for bipolar II disorder to be misdiagnosed as major depression, because the hypomanic episodes go unnoticed. 

Signs And Symptoms

Each teenager is different and could exhibit varied signs as well as present with a somewhat unique combination of symptoms associated with a bipolar II disorder diagnosis. An adolescent with bipolar II disorder will have abnormal mood swings, lasting anywhere from one to two weeks long, that shift between mania and depression. Stanford Children’s Health provide the following examples of signs and symptoms that could occur in a teen with bipolar II disorder:

  • Depressive Symptoms
    • Feelings of despair, helplessness, and guilt
    • Lasting feelings of sadness
    • Feelings of inadequacy
    • Low self-esteem
    • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
    • Changes in appetite
    • Weight fluctuations
    • Reduction in energy levels
    • Lacking concentration 
    • Difficulty making decisions
    • Feelings of anger, aggression, or hostility
    • Body aches and pains
    • Exhaustion
    • Suicidal ideation
  • Hypomanic symptoms
    • Easily distracted
    • Overly inflated self-esteem
    • Irritable
    • Engaging in reckless behaviors (i.e. substance abuse, unprotected sex, driving while intoxicated, etc.)
    • Unpredictable mood changes
    • Elevated energy levels
    • Increased sex drive
    • Hallucinating

It is helpful to have basic knowledge of common signs and symptoms of bipolar II disorder, as early intervention is critical. The sooner a young person can begin to arm him or herself with coping mechanisms and emotional tools to manage the symptoms of that occur from bipolar II disorder, the stronger his or her foundation will be for navigating all that accompanies his or her diagnosis in the long run.

Diagnosis And Treatment

With the expansive medical information available to anyone with access to the Internet, you may be tempted to self-diagnose your teenager. However, it is imperative obtain an accurate diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional, as the precise diagnosis will directly inform the treatment recommendations. A tailored treatment plan should be developed for a teen in diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. This can include a combination of a variety of different therapeutic modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), creative arts therapies, group therapies, and more. With mental health support, therapists can help a young person learn to identify and circumvent triggers for mood episodes. 

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at or through our contact form.

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