There are many types of depression, including manic depression, often called "bipolar disorder" by mental health professionals today. In this article you will learn what bipolar disorder is and how it differs from clinical depression. You will also learn the steps you can take to seek treatment for this serious mental health disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Many of the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder are similar to those one might expect from clinical depression. People with bipolar disorder usually experience depression, but also experience periods called "mania" where they may feel unusually active, irritable or engage in unusual behaviors.
Many times a person goes to see a doctor because they have symptoms of depression. These may include:
- Feeling sad or experiencing long bouts of crying without end.
- Feeling guilty or upset.
- Feeling anxious and irritable, or angry at times.
- Lack of desire to engage in daily life activities.
- Feeling suicidal or wondering what the purpose of life is.
- Feeling pessimistic about one's life and purpose in life.
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
Sometimes a doctor treats these symptoms with antidepressants. In a patient with bipolar disorder, antidepressants, especially a group of antidepressants called SSRIs, may cause a patient to flip from depression into mania.
Here are some symptoms of mania:
- Feeling overly energetic and excitable.
- Having delusions or feelings of self-grandeur.
- Feeling reckless and engaging in reckless or dangerous activities.
- Sleeping little without feeling overly tired.
- Talking very quickly or switching from subject to subject.
- Having poor concentration.
This list is not exhaustive, and patients with bipolar disorder display symptoms in different ways. It is critical you examine your family history and report this to your doctor when seeking treatment. Often bipolar disorder runs in families.
Important Tips for Patients
While many patients experience bipolar disorder as described above, there are others that may have other forms of bipolar disorder, including a "mixed" state bipolar disorder where they may experience symptoms of depression at the same time they experience symptoms of mania.
Many patients may have subtle symptoms that a doctor may not recognize without examining the patient's file and medical history closely. Bipolar disorder typically affects a small percentage of the population, although in recent years doctors are diagnosing more and more patients with this disorder.