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Old 24-08-2013, 10:18 PM   #1
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"Soft" Bipolar

So I've been attempting counseling lately. As with every mental health professional I have ever come across eventually we entered the bipolar discussion.
Basically I have had depression on and off for 13ish years but I also go through periods where I don't sleep or eat, have lots of energy and ideas and start all sorts of projects, I talk fast and often and am very social.
Right, I know, sounds pretty bipolar right? Except these periods last a week a most and are few and far between. According to the DSM I do not fit enough of the criteria often enough to be bipolar.
So my counselor starts asking the screening questions and she can tell I know where this is going but then surprises me by bringing up "soft bipolar". Not on the DSM but its supposedly "evidence based" and is like bipolar lite I guess and suggests that a person can cycle without reaching a full manic state.
I'm not sure if this is a real thing or just some new made up label...
So my question is: has anyone else heard of soft bipolar? what are your thoughts or experiences?

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Old 24-08-2013, 10:36 PM   #2
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Cyclothymia is often called soft bipolar.

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Call me Kate.

I have dyslexia so please excuse my poor spelling and sometimes poor understanding.

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Old 24-08-2013, 10:39 PM   #3
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I have never heard of it, but I think a lot of people are subclinical for lots of disorders. There is a spectrum/range for a lot of things, and people don't always fit in boxes, neatly or clearly.

There are two bipolar 'types' one is where people reach a manic state [1], and the other is where people reach 'hypermania' [2] rather than full blown mania. I wonder if she means the latter?

I don't have bipolar by the way, this is just what I know from others.

Edit- there is Cyclothymia also, never knew it was termed soft bipolar, but it is a milder mood disorder that can include swings.

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Old 25-08-2013, 01:00 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by thumbelina View Post
^a wee bug bear of mine, the term is hypomania (the prefix refers to mania rather than the normal state), sorry for nitpicking

I (most probably) have bipolar II in that my elevated moods are not as extreme as mania. The most notable difference is the lack of psychotic features and less impact on your ability to function. The difference between bipolar II and cyclothymia is the intensity of the depressions with the depressions associated with cyclothymia being less severe than bipolar II.

One thing I would say is not to put too much emphasis on the terms, especially terms like "soft" and "light". The impact these varying illnesses have on your day to day life doesn't necessarily correlate with where you are on the scale of cycling moods. There are some people with cyclothymia that have little time when they are not in one mood state or another and others with bipolar I that spend much longer times "well" just when things go wrong they implications are greater. The more important thing for me is to have it recognised that my moods cycle between extremes, with my team we are working on getting my moods stable then we work out what to call it, hence the most probably.

I came here to say something very similar to this. I have bipolar type II but without asking her you wouldn't know what she was referring to. Either way it sounds like it's impacting your life and is a problem so I hope that by identifying it in counseling as you have now, something can be done x

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Old 26-08-2013, 09:17 AM   #5
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I was previously diagnosed with bipolar II as I experience rapid mood swings, but more intense depressions which lasted for much longer.

After recent discussions with my psychiatrist, we are agreed that my symptoms do not seem to fit BPII. My mood swings occur over hours rather than months like typical bipolar. I do not really get manic or hypomanic, I do get elevated mood and some increased productivity but it does not negatively impact me. I do get impulsive with spending money and binge eating. We are agreed that it sounds like I have Borderline Personality Disorder, which I was previously diagnosed with. It can present very similar to bipolar, so it is worth looking in to.

Basically my symptoms- rapid mood changes, can be many times in one day. Impulsivity with spending money and binge eating. Long periods of depression and suicidal feelings. Fear of abandonment. Self harm.

I am very sensitive to emotion, which is the basis for Borderline. Little stressors 'trigger' me and send me up or down, taking longer for me to reach baseline again.

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Old 29-08-2013, 07:56 PM   #6
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I have just been diagnosed with bipolar type 2, and through researching the condition, iv found bipolar type 2 to also be referred to the term "soft" bipolar

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