Dr. Goel:

“Bipolar Disorder Type 2 is one of the most commonly missed diagnosis. It is a condition in which an individual often suffers needlessly throughout their life and are often misunderstood by their friends, family, and commonly by themselves. It is a very different condition than Bipolar Disorder Type 1 in terms of how an individual is viewed and functions in society.

Individuals with Bipolar Disorder Type 2 may excel in their field and may be viewed as very successful by society.  They usually have shorter periods of extreme highs in which they may be very productive, feel on top of the world, energized, and require less hours of sleep. They may have an urge to be somewhat wild leading to drinking, getting high, spending money, and being with multiple sexual partners. These periods of euphoria are commonly followed by longer and deeper periods of depression. They often suffer in silence. Their friends and family often view them as someone with an incredible amount of potential who just can’t seem to get it together. Patients often view themselves this way as well and begin to doubt themselves. They may end up in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, divorced, or having multiple failed relationships. They can be the life of the party or someone who brings chaos into the lives of everyone around them.

I often see the opposite as well. An individual may have really struggled as a teenager. Due to life circumstances, they may have been very emotionally reactive and were therefore, diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder. They often carry this diagnosis into adulthood. Providers may hesitate to question their diagnosis and adjust their medications due to the fear of triggering a manic episode. I often see patients who have been misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder as a teenager when they truly struggle with Depression.

I believe in a balanced and measured approach when assessing a patient and formulating a diagnosis. If an individual truly does have Bipolar Disorder Type 2, the proper individualized medication management regimen can be life-changing. Once their chemical imbalance is treated, suddenly they no longer have the need to go on alcohol benders, use cocaine, or seek fulfillment through multiple partners. Their mind and their life begins to stabilize.

If a person’s electrolytes are out of balance, do we hesitate to give them the potassium they need? Is it their fault that their electrolytes are out of balance? Is it someone’s fault if they have a genetic predisposition or biological factors that contributed to them having Bipolar Disorder Type 2? Should they be stigmatized just because their symptoms manifests through emotions rather than physical changes?

We must recognize that Bipolar Disorder Type 2 is a true medical condition. It is very important that we extend patients with this diagnosis the same level of compassion and understanding as patients with more common medical diagnoses. We must provide them with the proper medical treatment that they deserve. They did not ask for this condition. As health care professionals, it is our duty to provide treatment, without judgment.”