Q & A: Bipolar and Depression
November 14, 2019
Q: What is bipolar disorder?
A: Bipolar disorder, as defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is a “brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” NIMH reports that 5.7 million adults in the United States have bipolar disorder, which equals roughly 2.6 percent of the population. The average age of onset of bipolar symptoms is 25, though symptoms can present in early childhood and even as late as 50.
There are four different types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I disorder. Bipolar I disorder is characterized by periods of severe mood disturbances that range from mania to depression.
- Bipolar II disorder. Bipolar II disorder is less severe in intensity than bipolar I disorder but still includes hypomania and depression.
- Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder is defined by very short periods of hypomania symptoms and depressive symptoms. The symptoms exhibited are much milder and do not reach a full-blown state as seen in bipolar I and II.
- Other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders. This type of bipolar disorder occurs when someone is experiencing symptoms of bipolar but that do not fully fall into bipolar I, bipolar II, or cyclothymic disorders.
Within all four types of bipolar disorder, both mania and depression are experienced to some degree.
Q: What are mania and hypomania?
A: Mania and hypomania are essentially the same in terms of symptoms, however mania is much more intense than hypomania. Someone with bipolar disorder will experience some level of mania depending on what type of bipolar they are experiencing. Generally, symptoms of mania/hypomania include the following:
- Extreme euphoria
- Very high self-esteem and confidence
- Talking excessively
- Racing thoughts
- Lacking a need for sleep
- Getting distracted easily
- Engaging in dangerous behaviors and/or making bad decisions
Each person with bipolar disorder is unique, so the length of his or her manic or hypomanic episodes can vary. Some people can bounce between mania and depression more than once a day, while others can experience mania for weeks at a time before their mood changes.
Q: What is depression?
A: Depression is a mood disorder that causes individuals to experience pervasive sadness and keep them from doing the things they enjoy. Depression can be so intrusive in one’s life that it even prevents them from functioning. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that about one in 12 Americans has depression. Today, it ranks as one of the most common mental illnesses in the country, coming in second only to anxiety disorders.
Major depressive disorder is the most common type of depression, however there are several other kinds of depression, including the following:
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Postpartum depression
- Peripartum depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Psychotic depression
- Situational depression
- Atypical depression
Also included as a type of depression is bipolar disorder.
Q: What are the symptoms of depression?
A: The symptoms that someone with depression can experience can vary based on what type of depression they have, if they are experiencing other mental health problems or diseases, and other unique factors. The American Psychiatric Association describes the following as the most common symptoms of depression:
- Feeling sad or being in a depressed mood
- Problems concentrating
- Changes in sleep patterns (not sleeping enough or sleeping too much)
- Loss of energy
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Increase in purposeless physical activity such as pacing
- Slowed movements or speech
In order for a person to be diagnosed with depression, he or she must experience symptoms for at least two full weeks.
Q: What are psychotic symptoms?
A: Psychotic symptoms can occur in people with bipolar disorder and depression. These types of symptoms include the following:
- Healthline explains hallucinations as “sensory experiences that appear real but are created by your mind.” Someone who experiences hallucinations may hear, see, smell, or feel something that is not there. Common hallucinations in people with bipolar disorder or depression include hearing voices, seeing people who are not there, and feeling something crawling on the skin.
- Delusions occur when someone has beliefs that are out-of-touch or unrealistic. Examples of delusions experienced by people with mood disorders include feeling like they are being spied on, that someone who is not in love with them actually is, or that they have special powers.
Verywell Mind reports that approximately two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder will experience at least one psychotic symptom, if not more, in their lifetime. It is reported that approximately 14 to 18 percent of people with major depressive disorder will develop these symptoms.
Q: How are mood disorders treated?
A: Mood disorders, like bipolar disorder and depression, are treatable conditions. When someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder or depression, it is usually recommended that he or she obtain professional therapy and begin taking one or more medications to stabilize their mood. The combination of therapy and medication has proven highly successful in treating these and other mood disorders, allowing individuals to continue to enjoy their lives without struggling from painful, disruptive symptoms.
It is extremely important that mood disorders are treated, as continuing on without professional care can lead to worsened symptoms and an increased risk for suicide.
Do You Need Professional Help for a Mood Disorder?
Many people who battle the symptoms related to a mood disorder find themselves addicted to drugs or alcohol. It is common because individuals feel that getting high or drunk helps to mask the pain they are experiencing. And while that might seem to work at first, all it does is make the disorder worse.
If you are experiencing a mood disorder like bipolar disorder or depression, know that you do not have to go it alone. You do not need to self-medicate yourself, nor is there any shame in speaking up and asking for help. JourneyPure Lexington can treat your mood disorder and potential co-occurring substance use disorder. Let us show you how to manage your condition in a way that promotes your health and happiness. Call us now.