About Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Depression and bipolar disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Feelings of sadness, worthlessness and hopelessness can become disabling, preventing the sufferer from functioning in their day-to-day life. A depressed person can feel empty, unmotivated, worthless, or excessively guilty. Thinking and concentration are disrupted and thoughts of death or suicide are often present.
Symptoms of Depression
- Loss of interest in things that usually bring pleasure
- Social isolation
- Depressed mood most of the day, most days
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Feelings of restlessness or of being slowed down
- Fatigue, loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt
- Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness
- Recurrent thoughts of death, suicide thoughts, or plan
Indications of Bipolar and Related Disorders
- Mood instability alternating between depressive (described above) and manic or hypomanic episodes (described below)
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
- Decreased need for sleep
- More talkative than usual
- Racing thoughts
- Increase in goal-directed activity either socially or at work
- Excessive risk-taking, shopping sprees, sexual indiscretions, etc.
Many factors can increase the occurrence of depression including:
- Abuse from past relationships of a physical, sexual or emotional nature
- Medications used to treat unrelated conditions, for example some drugs used to treat high blood pressure cause depression
- Conflict or disputes with family members or friends
- Death or loss of a loved one
- Major events, even good events like marriage or graduation can upset the balance and bring on depression
- Other personal problems such as social isolation or family issues
- Serious illness
- Substance abuse
How it feels
It is really tough to understand how it feels to be depressed until you have experienced it. When depressed, people usually report feeling not able to find joy or interest in much of anything. They do not feel like socializing, or doing active things. Things that would normally seem easy like paying the bills or making a sandwich become daunting tasks that a person doesn’t have the energy for. The feeling is so heavy and painful that death starts to look attractive as the mind searches for a way to escape the pain.
Depression is a complex disorder, affecting people in different ways for different reasons. Two related disorders are Bipolar or Manic Depression and Seasonal Depression.
- Bipolar/Manic Depression is a mood disorder that alternates between periods of clinical depression and periods of extreme elevation of mood or mania. A manic episode is a distinct period during which there is an abnormally, persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and persistently increased activity or energy for at least one week. This mood disorder can occur in more severe and less severe forms as in Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymia.
- Seasonal Depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually fall or winter and subsides in the spring or early summer.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)-depressed mood that occurs for most of the day, for more days than not, for at least 2 years
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder essential features are the expression of mood swings, irritability, dysphoria, and anxiety symptoms that occur repeatedly during the premenstrual phase of the cycle and remit at the onset of the menses or shortly thereafter
Treatment of Depression
Psychotherapy can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Through the safe and gentle counseling offered by your therapist, you will learn what causes your depression, how to recognize triggers and identify unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. You will explore past experiences in a safe and comforting atmosphere to find better ways to cope with and solve your problems. You will gain a new sense of hope and increased happiness and control in your life.
Treatment of Bipolar and Related Disorders
Your therapist will help you identify signs and symptoms of mood changes and how to respond to these in order to manage the changing experience that comes with Bipolar. Your therapist will work with your doctor to adjust medications as needed during times of worsening depression or periods of mania. Psychotherapy helps with identifying and developing coping skills to assist you in being stable and effective.