Bi-polar II Disorder

A mum shares her experience of Bi-polar II Disorder (another form of PND)

She writes:

Bi-polar II is a disorder which involves mood swings from high to low but with Bi-polar II the “up” moods never reach full mania like with Manic Depression.

I had no idea it would be something I could get, especially as I didn’t have PND with my first child even though I had my first depressive episode 10 years ago.

Only 1-2% of women suffer from bi-polar depression during and after pregnancy and it is often difficult to diagnose because you do not get the hypomanic euphoria that is associated with manic depression.

For 75% of women, their first episode is a depression so the treating doctor does not know if they are treating unipolar depression or whether it may be the first sign of bipolar depression.

With Bi-polar depression you get an elation in mood (called hypomania) which is then followed by a very depressive episode, which is more frequent and more intense. And those with Bi-polar II are at the highest risk of suicide among the bipolar spectrum.

Bi-polar II is characterized by at least one hypomanic episode (elation) where I felt great, full of confidence, had copious amounts of energy, went without sleep for 3 days straight and was on a “high” after the birth of my daughter.

Unfortunately a hypomanic episode is soon followed by a major depressive episode where I felt very suicidal, I felt disassociated from my baby and toddler and husband, I would cry for no reason, I had no emotion about anything, lacked energy, couldn’t eat and didn’t want to socialise or see friends.

It took trying six different types of medication that included a combination of anti-depressants, mood stabilisers and anti-psychotics, before the right combination was found (a anti-depressant and anti-psychotic) to stabilise my mood and allowed me to function “properly” for the first time in 10 months since the birth of my daughter.

But this was not without the huge stress it caused for my family as I did end up in the emergency department due to an over-dose, had a week long stay in the acute psychiatric ward in hospital, and the intervention and expertise of the MMH (maternal mental health) team to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the correct medication.