The experience of women living with bipolar II disorder

Date of Completion

January 2004


Health Sciences, Mental Health|Women's Studies|Health Sciences, Nursing




Bipolar II disorder is a mood disorder and a subtype of bipolar I disorder. It affects about 0.5% of the population and appears to be more common in women. Often this disorder is misdiagnosed, leading to inadequate treatment and self esteem problems in women during their reproductive years. No qualitative studies were uncovered in the literature review; in fact, the voices of women were invisible in the literature. The phenomenon of the experiences of women living with bipolar II disorder is the focus of this study. Colaizzi's (1978) phenomenological method is used to investigate this phenomenon. In this method, the women become participants in their own research. The research question for the study addressed the essential structure of the lived experience of women with bipolar II disorder. A purposive sample of 11 women, diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, was interviewed. Their interviews were audio taped, transcribed, and analyzed for significant statements and formulated meanings. The four themes that emerged from the analysis of the formulated meanings were (1) melancholy to mayhem at the flick of the switch, (2) dwelling in the maze: the journey toward diagnosis and treatment, (3) emerging in steadiness: regaining control, and (4) cultivation a new self. The findings provide increased awareness, understanding, and knowledge of a woman's experience of living with bipolar II disorder. This knowledge will be used for education, practice and research in the domain of women's health care. ^