Getting To Know The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Depression

Depression and bipolar disorder are not the same conditions. Depression lacks a manic or “up” phase, which is one of the primary differences.

Because bipolar disorder can include depressed episodes, it is frequently confused with depression. The fundamental distinction between the two is that depression is unipolar, meaning there is no “up” time, whereas bipolar disorder includes mania symptoms.

Understanding the signs of each disorder might help you differentiate between the two.

Depression Symptoms

The main feature of major depressive illness is a two-week or longer duration of either a gloomy mood most of the day nearly every day or a lack of interest or pleasure in virtually all activities. Other possible symptoms are:

  • Substantial weight loss when not dieting, or weight gain and appetite changes
  •  insomnia or hypersomnia, almost every day
  • psychomotor agitation or retardation, almost every day
  • fatigue or a loss of energy, almost every day
  • Emotions of inadequacy or undue guilt
  • Reduced capacity to think or focus, as well as indecision
  • Persistent suicidal ideation without a strategy, as well as a suicide attempt or suicide plot

The symptoms of major depressive disorder cause harmful suffering or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. There should be no history of a manic or hypomanic episode to meet the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Although bipolar disorder contains depression symptoms, it also includes manic symptoms. Bipolar disorder is distinguished by mood swings that range from depressive lows to manic highs.

A manic episode is defined as at least one week of unusually and continuously high, expansive, or irritated mood and increased goal-directed activity or energy.

Manic symptoms include:

  • Excessive self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Sleeping requirements are reduced.
  • More chatty than usual or rushed speech
  • Ideas flying around, racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • More goal-oriented activities
  • Over participation in potentially dangerous activities (usually involving drugs, money, or sex)
  • Bipolar disorder mood episodes are severe enough to impair social or occupational functioning or require hospitalization to prevent self-harm.

Depression Test in 3 Minutes (Self-Assessment)

This quick quiz created by an expert might assist you in determining whether you are experiencing symptoms prevalent in people with Depression.

Bipolar Disorder Types

There are two forms of bipolar disorder and two conditions that are closely related. Knowing the many kinds of bipolar disorder can aid in distinguishing bipolar disorder from depression.

Bipolar I disorder

This is diagnosed when a patient has had at least one manic episode, regardless of whether or not a depressive episode has occurred.

Bipolar II disorder

This diagnosis is provided when a patient has experienced at least one depressive episode as well as a time of heightened mood known as hypomania. Hypomania attacks are less severe than mania attacks and last less time. Individuals with bipolar II had longer depressed episodes and shorter hypomanic states. Individuals frequently seek treatment during a depressive episode since hypomanic symptoms may have less of an influence on functioning.

Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is distinguished by persistent, fluctuating mood instability characterized by multiple hypomanic symptoms and distinct periods of depressive symptoms. The hypomanic symptoms do not meet the whole hypomanic episode criteria, while the depressive symptoms do not meet the full depressive episode requirements.

Unspecified bipolar disorder

When there is clinically substantial abnormal mood elevation that does not meet the full criteria for the other three illnesses, this diagnosis may be given. These problems can be caused by substances or be connected with other conditions.

Pic: Depression

Bipolar and Depression Treatments

Both bipolar disorder and severe depression can have a significant impact on social and professional performance if left untreated. Both involve the possibility of suicide. The good news is that both illnesses can be managed. In both circumstances, a combination of treatments works well. Among the therapy options are:

  • Talk therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT)
  • Family counseling (involvement of family members increases success)
  • Management of medications (including antidepressants and/or mood stabilizers)

If antidepressants or other depression drugs are taken, an accurate diagnosis is critical since some might exacerbate bipolar disorder symptoms.

Individuals suffering from depression and bipolar disorder both benefit from highly regimented routines. Developing a routine allows patients to know what to expect and to manage their medications on their own.

What Should You Do If You Are Depressed?

The first thing you should recognize is that you are not alone. Depression is only transitory; there is assistance, hope, and a way out. You can make lifestyle changes that will significantly improve your depression.

  • Get professional care as soon as possible if your depression symptoms are severe or causing suicidal thoughts or significant functioning impairment. Depression is a treatable mental health illness that you do not have to “push through.”
  • Exercise may be beneficial for minor depression symptoms or as part of a treatment plan, as evidence shows that it can improve mood, especially when combined with medication and talk therapy. Even simple exercises such as a quick stroll might help alleviate depression symptoms. Selecting a team activity may help alleviate feelings of loneliness.
  • Going out in nature on a regular basis may also help to alleviate depression. This does not require you to be in the middle of nowhere. Simple, nature-based activities such as gardening or a trip around the park or around your neighborhood can be beneficial.
  • You might also try writing about your emotions. This can be accomplished through therapeutic writing with a skilled therapist, creative writing, or song lyrics, with an emphasis on how you’re feeling.

Socializing is an important part of dealing with depression. People with robust social networks feel and function better than individuals with poor or limited relationships, according to research. Of course, it’s easier said than done. It can be tough to connect with others when you are depressed. Realize that there is always someone who can assist you in taking the initial step. 

Suicide and Depression Related to Bipolar Disorder

So many people suffering from bipolar depression believe that suicide is their only option. It’s not. There are certain practical precautions you can take to avoid it, such as:

  • Keeping a list of important contacts on hand
  • removing all ways of suicide (guns, razors, medications you may overdose on)
  • abstaining from alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs
  • Avoid websites that promote negativity and suicide.
  • Taking part in a support group

Remember that depression is a brief state and that being proactive in your rehabilitation is critical to achieving great results.

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