Avoiding Wrong Diagnosis of Bipolar Depression Symptoms

The bipolar depression symptoms show during the depressive phase of the bipolar disorder. In bipolar disorder there is a depressive phase and a manic or a hypomanic phase.

The symptoms of bipolar depression are similar to the major depression symptoms. Therefore during the depressive phase it is difficult to determine whether it is the depressive phase of bipolar disorder or is it unipolar depression?

Then which feature differentiates between the two?

“It is the past history of mania or hypomania that separates the two conditions”.

If you had an episode of mania or hypomania before this depressive episode. Then it is bipolar disorder. The current depressive episode will be called the bipolar depressive episode or the manic depressive episode.

Bipolar II disorder can be wrongly diagnosed as unipolar depression.Getting the right diagnosis is important from the treatment point of view. The treatment for bipolar depression is different from that of unipolar depression.

The signs of manic depression are:

In Nutshell| Bipolar Depression Symptoms

✓Low mood.

✓Loss of pleasure in life.

✓Low self esteem.

✓Feelings of guilt.

✓Sleep disturbances (difficulty sleeping or over sleeping).

✓Mental and physical slowness.

✓Changes in weight ( gain or loss).

✓Thoughts of suicide or self harm

In the depressive phase you may have some or all of the above symptoms. You have low mood and feel like crying. Sometimes you feel like crying and cannot cry.Life appears gloomy. You do not enjoy life. You lose pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. You feel energy drained. You feel lethargic.

You feel that you are a worthless person. No one likes you. No one needs you. You are of no use to the society. You think that you are responsible for all the wrong things happening around you.

Your sleep also gets disturbed. It is not refreshing. You find it difficult to sleep or you wake up early in the night. Once you wake up you cannot fall back to sleep again. In this time you may ruminate. Rumination means that you keep on rethinking the negative thoughts in your mind. As a result the negative emotions keep on returning onto you.

You may gain weight or lose weight during this depressive episode. It just varies from person to person. Some gain weight during the depression others lose weight. This variation occurs in sleep as well. You oversleep or under sleep.

You become indecisive .You ability to think, analyze and make decisions decreases. . You get mentally slow. You forget things. This is due to the concentration lapse. You get physically slow as well. Life appears useless to you. It appears a burden.

Thoughts of suicide start coming into your mind. Nearly 75% of the depressed individuals think about suicide. 10-15% of them actually commit suicide.

”If you are having suicidal thoughts please call the helpline or call your friend. Talk about your thoughts. This is a temporary dark phase in your life. It will go away. Seek help.Please!” 

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National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Publication: "Bipolar Disorder".

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