Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Bipolar Depression

It’s approximated that 25 to 50 percent of patients with bipolar disorder attempt to commit suicide at least once in their lifetime. Moreover, according to the National Mental Health Association, approximate 30 to 70 percent of suicide victims suffered from major depression which could have been caused by bipolar. In this scenario, it’s important to know about bipolar depression and what may trigger it.

What is Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression is a cycle of major highs and lows or depressive phase of bipolar disorder. There is a big difference between bipolar depression and any other type of depression. To declare with certainty that you are experiencing bipolar depression, you must go through a period of mania or hypomania.

People experiencing the ‘high’ phase feel energized and easily excitable which keeps them from feeling like themselves. Additionally, they are unable to do things they would like to do. This is also seen in people with ‘down’ mood swing whereby they feel lethargic, sad and unmotivated.

Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

While going through the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, the common symptoms include:

  • Sleeping less or not having enough sleep.
  • Feeling sad, empty or worried.
  • Trouble to focus or remember things.
  • Decision making becomes hard.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Overeating or lack of appetite.
  • Constant aches, headaches, cramps or digestive problems.

You might experience some of this symptoms but the surest sign of depression is the low phase which can last up to two weeks. Anger is not a symptom of bipolar depression but it can be classified as a trigger.

Managing the Depression

The most important thing you need is self-help. Have a plan in place to help prevent the minor symptoms from turning into full-blown episodes which could be traumatizing. Try to get help from a mental health professional to come up with a way to recognize the onset of depression.

Also, you need to start and stick to bipolar treatment, including seeing a therapist and undertaking psycho-education.

What to Do When You’re Depressed

You’ve tried all the above things to avoid depression, yet you still get depressed from time to time. Don’t be afraid because that’s not the end. There are several things you can do to help you cope with depression.

First, you need to take mood stabilizers, antidepressants or antipsychotic drugs prescribed by your doctor. These are the commonly used drugs to treat bipolar depression. In addition to that, you need another type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy which teaches you ways to handle negative thoughts that come with depression.

Other steps you can take to fight depression include:

  • Asking for support from family members and friends. Inform them about the medication and doctor’s appointment. If possible, ask them to accompany you during the appointments and also to ensure you have taken the drugs.
  • Avoid alcohol or drug and substance abuse. They can stop your medication from working or make your mood worse.
  • Avoid making major changes while depressed because you may not be aware of what you’re doing. Let your doctor make the adjustments for you. For example, he/she can help you schedule absences from work or school if you have to.
  • Try as much as possible to stick to your everyday routine. Go to bed as usual, exercise, wake up the normal time and you can even try to meditate.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that can lead to a shift in mood. Also called mania-depression, bipolar patients experience an extremely elevated phase or episodes of depression. This condition can lead to trouble managing daily tasks at school, work or lead to a risky behavior.

About five million people have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hence it isn’t a rare condition. Some may disagree that bipolar can kill but, committing suicide is the same as dying from bipolar disorder.

Bipolar symptoms

The main symptoms include:

  • Mania.
  • Hypomania.
  • Depression.

Mania brings about high emotions, excitement, impulsion, or euphoria. It might be hard to diagnose bipolar due to its varied symptoms.

Types of bipolar disorder

Bipolar is divided into three major types:

1. Bipolar I – where a patient has at least one manic episode.
2. Bipolar II – a patient has one major depressive episode that lasts close to two weeks
3. Cyclothymia – patients have hypomania and depression.

Final thoughts

Figuring out if your depression is caused by bipolar disorder may take a while. The important thing is to talk to your doctor for a diagnosis to have a better understanding of the disorder. Remember, children and teens develop depression just like adults and show the same symptoms.


All images via Pixabay


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